ALBANY -- Mitt Romney cruised to victory in Republican presidential primaries in New York and four other states Tuesday, as the party began the process of uniting behind the former Massachusetts governor.
In New York, where Romney did not even make a public campaign stop in this heavily Democratic state, early returns Tuesday night showed him with 60 percent of the vote. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas had 17 percent and Newt Gingrich had 14. It was enough for The Associated Press to declare Romney the winner. Later, with 90 percent of precincts reporting, Romney had 62 percent of the vote; Paul, 16 percent; Gingrich, 13 percent; and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, 9 percent.
"Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee, and I'm going to support the nominee," Santorum said on CNN. He added he intended to meet today with the winner's aides, AP reported.
In Nassau County, Romney had 74 percent of the vote with about half of the precincts reporting Tuesday night. Gingrich and Paul had 10 percent each; Santorum had 6. In Suffolk County, early results showed Romney with a commanding 73 percent; Paul, 12; Gingrich, 10; and Santorum, 5.
Anthony Casale, chief of staff for the New York State Republican Committee, said Tuesday's results marked the end of the primary process -- in spirit, if not officially. Now, Republicans will turn from the intraparty fight to taking on President Barack Obama.
"We said New York was going to be the end and we were right," Casale said. "We're ready now to pivot to the general election."
Since Santorum exited the campaign earlier this month, Romney has been focusing more on the November election against Obama. He's also begun searching for a running mate.
He has campaigned with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a Cuban-American whose popularity with Republican voters and Hispanics has earned him a top spot on the list of prospective picks.
The five primaries held Tuesday were the first since Santorum pulled out -- effectively conceding the nomination to Romney and sparking a wave of Romney endorsements by high-profile party leaders.
Romney began the day with 698 delegates. Santorum, who remained on Tuesday's ballots, had been running a distant second, with 260; Gingrich had 137 and Paul (R-Texas) had 75. New York, with 95, had the most delegates at stake Tuesday.
He delivered his remarks to a national television audience as well from the state where he won his first primary of the campaign and one of about a dozen states expected to be battlegrounds in the summer and fall campaign for the White House. The speech served as an indicator that Romney was treating the moment Tuesday night as something of an opening of the general election campaign. His speech seemed aimed at the millions of voters who have yet to pay close attention to the contest.
Early Tuesday, Gingrich's daughter said the former House speaker would "reassess" his campaign after getting the results in Delaware -- where he campaigned the hardest during the last two weeks.
"He talked about waiting for the results and looking to see what happens and then potentially reassess," Jackie Gingrich Cushman told MSNBC.