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Republicans prepare for Super Tuesday -

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EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: In the United States, Republican candidates are gearing up for Super
Tuesday, where 10 states will hold primaries to select their presidential candidate.

The biggest prize is the state of Idaho, carrying 66 delegates.

For the very latest we're joined by our Washington bureau chief Craig McMurtrie.

G'day Craig. None of the candidates have so far been able to establish a clear lead. What are the
chances that today will finally offer some clarity on this contest?

CRAIG MCMURTRIE, NORTH AMERICA CORRESPONDENT: Some clarity is expected today, Emma.

For example, Mitt Romney is expected to eke out a win in Ohio, in the sense that he appears to be
closing the gap on Rick Santorum, but more broadly he's expected to win six or seven of the 10
contests - if not delivering a knockout punch, then really underlining that he is the inevitable
candidate in this Republican nomination contest.

And essentially, the big difference today is we've got 10 races, a coast-to-coast competition. It's
not like New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina before, where other candidates who aren't as
well-financed have been able to go directly at him with a local grassroots campaign. This time it's
spread across the country.

It's all about organisation and money - and perhaps the best example of that is near to here in
Virginia, where voting has just opened. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich didn't actually get the
required paperwork filed to get on the ballot in Virginia, so that's a direct contest between Mitt
Romney and Ron Paul - Mitt Romney likely to get all the delegates in Virginia, so that demonstrates
the clout there.

So after today, he's expected to make a big statement and if not deliver a knockout punch, then at
least underline the fact that he is the inevitable choice.

EMMA ALBERICI: And so, given the significance of Ohio, what are the polls showing there?

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: Well, in Ohio, Rick Santorum had a big lead, but that really has come back. The
major polls are showing now that the race is really a statistical tie.

But with that momentum, it is expected that Mitt Romney will eke out this win there. Rick
Santorum's saying he's been outspent 12 to one in Ohio. It's an important symbol, I guess, today,
because most Republican strategists believe that the Republican nominee to win the White House in
November will have to do well in Ohio, which is why the party is looking for a strong performance
there today - and even there the organisational aspect comes into it.

Rick Santorum wasn't able to file the required paperwork in all the congressional districts. A
significant number of delegates are being assigned by those congressional districts. So, even if
Mitt Romney comes second in Ohio today, he is likely to get most of the delegates out of Ohio -
certainly more than Rick Santorum.

EMMA ALBERICI: Aside from Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, will there be pressure on those other
candidates to quit with a very poor showing today?

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: Well, yes, there will be pressure, though all of them are saying they are staying
in the race. Rick Santorum looking to win in Oklahoma and is likely to win there. Newt Gingrich
really staking his claim in the south, Georgia, his home state. Interestingly that's where most of
the delegates are in a single state today. He's likely to win there. May do well in Tennessee as
well.

Ron Paul looking more towards the open caucus in North Dakota, possibly Idaho - but there's a big
Mormon population in Idaho, so Mitt Romney has chances there as well. There will be pressure on the
other three to drop out, as I said; they're saying that they are staying in the race.

The big question is, if Mitt Romney can make a big statement, will their backers stay with them,
keep giving money to the super PACs to support their campaigns.

That's an open question, but the Republican establishment is making it quite clear that it would
like this competition to start winding down. There is growing concern with negatives for all four
contenders rising in polls that if they keep getting personal, if this contest continues, it will
really undermine the chances of the eventual nominee.

EMMA ALBERICI: Craig, we'll watch with great interest and look forward to your full coverage
tomorrow night on Lateline, thank you very much.

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: OK.