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Why Wisconsin primary could be start of something big for Mitt Romney (+video)

With a decisive win Tuesday in the Wisconsin primary, Mitt Romney could finally claim the mantle of the inevitable GOP nominee. Wisconsin is also important to the Republican Party as a potential battleground state in November. 

By Staff writer / April 2, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney attends a pancake breakfast in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, Sunday. Romney, just two days before the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday, continues to spend his days campaigning in the state.

Darren Hauck/Reuters

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Washington

Wisconsin's state motto is one simple word: forward. But after Tuesday's Republican presidential primary in the state, it's possible that the way forward will be slammed shut to all GOP nominees but Mitt Romney.

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Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum battle for Wisconsin Tuesady. But Obama surges in polls among women voters.

While Rick Santorum's campaign isn't a goner, even if he loses, Wisconsin stands out as a potential turning point in the national election for two reasons. First, the Badger State primary marks the moment when many elected Republicans across the country decided at last to cast their lot with Mr. Romney's campaign. Second, many Republican officials have lately stopped talking about "who" will be the party's nominee and are preoccupied instead with "how" to win against President Obama in November, including identifying which states (Wisconsin, perhaps?) are really up for grabs. 

Heading into the primary, the list of leading GOP figures to back Romney has lengthened. First, much-buzzed-about vice-presidential prospect Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida endorsed Romney last week. Then Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky stopped just short of endorsing Romey on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, saying the odds are "overwhelming" that the former Massachusetts governor will lead the party in November. "Most" Senate Republicans, he added, have already backed Romney "or they have the view that I do, that it’s time to turn our attention to the fall campaign and begin to make the case against the president of the United States." 

Former President George H.W. Bush gave Romney his endorsement last week, following in the footsteps of his son, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who did so a week earlier.

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