Washington: Mitt Romney on Wednesday appeared to have maintained his front runner status in the Republican presidential primary as he was projected to win in four States and had gained a slight edge in the key battle ground of Ohio over nearest rival Rick Santorum.

On Tuesday 10 States went to vote in the Republican presidential primary, which was expected to put former Massachusetts Governor Romney far ahead of his other rivals, Santorum in particular.

But with neck-to-neck race in Ohio, the mainstream US media was reluctant to project a Republican presidential nomination, which normally has been the case in previous years.

Besides his home State of Massachusetts, Romney was projected to win Vermont, Virginia and Idaho, and had taken a slim lead over his nearest rival Santorum in Ohio.

Santorum, the former Senator from Pennsylvania, was projected to win North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Newt Gingrich, the former House of Representatives Speaker, could win only his home State of Georgia, while Ron Paul – the Congressman from Texas – was yet to open his account. Paul, however, surprised many by gaining about 40 per cent of the votes in Virginia.

According to CNN, Santorum's victories showed his continuing strength among conservative voters, while Gingrich's win in the State that sent him to Congress allows him to keep his campaign going.

"It looks we're going to get at least a couple of gold medals, and a whole passel full of silver medals," Santorum said in his remarks in Ohio.

"Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney appear headed toward an extremely close finish in the race for the ultimate Super Tuesday battleground, Ohio, after the two candidates divided up Republican primary votes and traded victories in states across the nation," as reported.