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Romney rebounds with victory in Florida GOP primary

Former Massachusetts Gov.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney staked his claim to the distinction of being the frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination with a win Tuesday in Florida’s Republican primary.

Based on exit poll data and preliminary returns, NBC News projects that Romney will win the contest, which was limited to only registered Republican voters. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the winner of the Jan. 21 South Carolina GOP primary, will finish a distant second, followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in third, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul in fourth.