Bloomberg News

Romney Says Wisc. Win Will Knock out Santorum

April 01, 2012

Mitt Romney greets volunteers at a phone bank for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in Fitchburg, Wisconsin on March 31, 2012. Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Mitt Romney greets volunteers at a phone bank for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in Fitchburg, Wisconsin on March 31, 2012. Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Mitt Romney predicted victory in next week’s Wisconsin primary, projecting new confidence that such a win would clear the way for him to lock up the Republican presidential nomination.

“We’re looking like we’re going to win this thing on Tuesday,” he said in Fitchburg, Wisconsin yesterday, suggesting he could also come out ahead in two other contests in Maryland and the District of Columbia (STODC1:US) on April 3. “If I can get that boost also from Wisconsin, I think we’ll be on a path that’ll get me the nomination well before the convention.”

A trio of victories would demonstrate Romney’s ability to win across the country, while also expanding his lead toward securing the 1,144 convention delegates needed to capture the party nomination.

Romney has 568 delegates, according to an Associated Press tally. Former U.S. Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has 273, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 135 and Representative Ron Paul of Texas with 50.

“If you do your job and I do mine, I might be able to pick up all three of those, and that would be obviously a big statement,” he told voters at a call center for Republican Governor Scott Walker, who is facing a recall election.

Romney wins could also mark the beginning of the end for Santorum, who’s struggled to maintain momentum amid endorsements for Romney and calls from numerous prominent party leaders to complete the primary process and begin preparation for the contest in November against President Barack Obama. Romney on March 29 was endorsed by former President George H.W. Bush.

Santorum’s Pitch

At a Republican party dinner in Wisconsin last night, Santorum raised questions about Romney’s general election competitiveness, saying he didn’t share their views on such issues as a health-care mandate. Romney, Santorum said, couldn’t make a strong case against the national health-care law championed by Obama because of his support for a similar state law as governor of Massachusetts.

“It’s important to stand behind principled conservatives,” he told voters in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. “It’s our best chance of winning.”

The Wisconsin primary is Santorum’s last opportunity to demonstrate his strength in the Midwest, a region where he has said he is better than Romney to compete against Obama. In Michigan and Ohio, Santorum held Romney to wins of 3 percentage points and 1 percentage point.

Romney Polling Ahead

In a NBC News/Marist poll released yesterday, Romney had an advantage over Santorum, 40 percent to 33 percent. Paul was third with 11 percent, and Gingrich was last at 8 percent, in the survey of likely Wisconsin primary voters conducted March 26-27 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

The next contests will be on April 24 in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Delaware -- states expected to favor Romney -- and in Pennsylvania, which Santorum represented in the House and Senate.

Santorum is looking ahead to the April 24 primaries. He scheduled his election night party in Mars, Pennsylvania, near his hometown of Butler, rather than Tuesday in Wisconsin.

On the campaign trail yesterday, Romney ignored his primary rivals, keeping his message focused on the general election. He framed the election as a battle for economic freedom, blaming Obama for “the most tepid, weakest recovery” and labeled his economic strategy a “bust.”

“This is a time for freedom, for economic freedom,” he said in his remarks before the Faith and Freedom Coalition. “It is not a time for a government dominated society or economy.”

Revive America

At the party dinner in Pewaukee last night, Romney promised to revive America, accusing Obama with failing to recognize the country’s unique place in the world.

“It is always a great gift to remember that we have something no one else in the world has: We’re American,” he said. “I want to make sure we bring back that conviction to every man, woman and child around the world.”

Even as he pivoted to the November election, Romney highlighted positions that appeal to evangelical and born-again Christian voters who make up the primary base of the Republican Party.

“I will restore and protect religious freedom,” he said. “We are one nation under God and that must be maintained.”

Romney, 65, struck an upbeat tone as he toured the state, joking with voters and praising Wisconsin U.S. Representative Paul Ryan, who has endorsed Romney.

Joking Romney

In Fitchburg, Romney teased an aide about his gray plaid jacket, saying that it was made out of the fabric of an old couch once owned by Ryan. “People always wondered what happened to that sofa,” Romney told voters.

After losing primaries to Santorum in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, Romney is casting Wisconsin as the state that can deliver a knock-out punch.

“I’m not counting the delegates before they hatch,” Romney said. “But I’m going to keep working very hard and hope I get a good strong send off from Wisconsin.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Lisa Lerer in Pewaukee, Wisconsin at llerer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net


American Apparel's Future
LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW

(enter your email)
(enter up to 5 email addresses, separated by commas)

Max 250 characters

 
blog comments powered by Disqus