Washington, April 25 (IANS) Sweeping five Republican primaries to effectively clinch the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney prepared to challenge President Barack Obama in the November general election.
"A better America starts tonight," the former Massachusetts governor told a cheering victory rally in New Hampshire Tuesday after building a big lead in delegates with victories in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
"The last few years have been the best that Barack Obama can do, but it's not the best America can do," he said. "Tonight is the beginning of the end of the disappointments of the Obama years and it's the start of a new and better chapter that we will write together."
Far ahead of the field in the battle for delegates, Romney became the presumptive nominee April 10 after his closest rival former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, suspended his campaign.
Santorum has yet to endorse Romney and declined to do so despite repeated prodding on a TV show Tuesday saying he hoped to meet with Romney "in the next week or two".
Meanwhile, two senior advisers to Santorum's campaign told CNN that the meeting with Romney is tentatively scheduled for May 4, and the agenda would likely include the possibility of an endorsement and the role of conservative issues on Romney's platform.
With the nominating fight virtually over, Romney's campaign has already been working to build up its general election organization, and engaged in a "rapid build-out", a Romney adviser said.
Romney plans a series of fundraising events Wednesday and Thursday in New York and New Jersey to build up his war chest for the November election.
To win, Romney needs to overcome a big Obama advantage among young voters. In 2008, voters ages 18 to 29 supported Obama over Republican nominee Senator John McCain by 66 percent to 32 percent, according to CNN exit polling.
Obama has maintained his lead among the group, according to the latest CNN/ORC International Poll, with 64 percent support to Romney's 32 percent.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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