Mitt Romney recaptured momentum in the GOP race for the presidency Tuesday night with a projected victory in Illinois.
NBC News projected Romney as the winner of Illinois at about 7:40 p.m.
With a third of the precincts reporting, Romney had 57.34 percent and Santorum 27.09 percent. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, who did not campaign heavily in Illinois, were far behind, with 8.30 percent and 6.66 percent respectively.
"It’s time to say these words, this word: Enough. We’ve had enough,” Romney said in his victory speech.
The former Massachusetts governor needed a solid victory here to recover from a drubbing in Mississippi and Alabama last week at the hands of Rick Santorum.
Santorum, who surprised many by winning both those southern states outright, is behind Romney in the Illinois count but ahead of his closest conservative competitors Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.
The former Pennsylvania senator wasn’t on the ballot in four of Illinois’ 18 districts.
Santorum spoke after Romney from from a location in Elgin.
The second place finish by Santorum could renew calls for Gingrich to leave the race and allow conservatives to coalesce around one candidate in an effort to stop Romney from slowly marching toward the nomination.
In Illinois, as in Michigan and Ohio, Romney enjoyed an enormous advantage in television advertising. His campaign and Restore Our Future, a super PAC that supports him, outspent Santorum and his super PAC by $3.5 million to $500,000, an advantage of 7-1.
Romney leads in the delegate count and should increase his margin after the Illinois contest.
"Together we’re going to ensure that America’s greatest days are ahead," Romney said.