In Wisconsin, Mitt Romney is running against Obama, not Rick Santorum
Even before Tuesday's Wisconsin primary is finished, Mitt Romney breaks away from a tough GOP primary season to reset themes for a November campaign against President Obama
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Governor Walker is facing a recall election in June and has said he is not endorsing a candidate, so he can focus on his reelection. Still, Romney drew strong applause from the Milwaukee crowd when he said he received a phone call that day from “your governor,” who called to urge Romney to talk more about his experience organizing the 2002 Winter Olympics.Skip to next paragraph
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The endorsements in Wisconsin are evidence the national “party is beginning to see him as the likely nominee,” says Charles Franklin, polling director at the Marquette University School of Law. Recent polls show that Romney has a better chance at defeating President Obama than his GOP rivals, he adds. The ultimate seal of approval will come if Romney defeats Santorum in Pennsylvania, Santorum’s home state, on April 24.
“A Romney win here really sets Romney up to say, ‘I won Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and now we’re into Pennsylvania – and I’m going to win there,’ ” Mr. Franklin says. “Obviously a defeat of a home state candidate is really the coup de grâce of a candidacy.”
Continually drilling down on social issues and reaching out to blue-collar voters might be effective in any other primary season, but the approach is working against Santorum in current polling, because some voters say they worry that his views on issues such as contraceptive coverage are alienating independents and the more moderate voters the party needs in the national election.
“I like the guy but he needs to think about the things he says,” says Mr. Blackburn. “I would vote for him next time. Not that social issues don't matter. But they don’t matter this year.”
Mr. Shober agrees: “Some of Santorum’s policy positions are not really part of the winning Wisconsin Republican message” who tend to be more left of the center while Romney’s “message is much closer to the standard mainstream.”
Ryan is such a star among Wisconsin Republicans – indeed, at the town hall meeting he received a more energized round of applause than the man he was introducing – that he would seem a natural choice on Romney’s shortlist of vice-presidential choices. His strengths: He is a fiscal conservative who, unlike Romney, has worked in government at the federal level.
“Ryan can say he knows what a federal budget looks like. That would be a complement to Romney,” he says.
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