April leap or May slog, Romney on pace to GOP nod

By Thomas Beaumont

Associated Press

Published: Friday, March 30 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

MILWAUKEE — April looks good for Mitt Romney, with its string of Midwestern and Eastern primaries seemingly tailor-made for the Republican presidential front-runner.

In May, the GOP campaign turns again to the South, where the former Massachusetts governor has struggled. But at this point only a total collapse will deny him the nomination.

Romney has amassed more Republican National Convention delegates than all his competitors combined and is nearly halfway to the 1,144 needed to win. And he can put a dagger in the ambitions of any remaining rivals in June, with states like California and New Jersey, where he's positioned well with money and key endorsements.

In the meantime, he's poised to dominate the next month, with money, organization and geographic advantages.

"April will be much more favorable to Romney," said Dick Hug, a Maryland Republican fundraiser who supports Romney.

What lies ahead in Romney path to the nomination:


Romney looks strong in Wisconsin, the big prize in Tuesday's three-state mini-sweepstakes.

And he got a big boost Friday when Wisconsin's influential Rep. Paul Ryan endorsed him in a nationally broadcast television interview.

Ryan told Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" that he feels Romney is best suited to be the party's nominee this fall and take on President Barack Obama.

Ryan, who is chairman of the House Budget Committee, also said he's convinced that "if we drag this thing on through summer, it's going to be harder" to turn Obama out of office.

The pressure is on Rick Santorum in the former Pennsylvania senator's last chance to make the argument that he can win in the all-important industrial heartland.

Romney has had his number. He edged Santorum in Michigan and Ohio and won big in Illinois.

The formula has been simple: Swamp Santorum with TV ads and get big help from a pro-Romney group. Romney and that group, Restore Our Future, were spending about $3 million on television advertising in Wisconsin, a roughly 4-to-1 edge over Santorum and his allies.

It seems to be working. Romney has overtaken him, according to a Marquette University Law School poll published Monday.

Santorum has campaigned aggressively in conservative rural Wisconsin in the past week.

Romney arrives in the state on Friday, but he has already been sponsoring phone calls attacking Santorum's labor record, a hot topic where GOP activists are rallying to Gov. Scott Walker's recall election for signing anti-union legislation.

And Restore Our Future has been on television attacking Santorum since last week.

"Romney hasn't been here, but other groups are spending heavily for him," said Mary Buestin, a Republican national committeewoman from Wisconsin.


Maryland and Washington, D.C., are a lock for Romney, despite his calling himself a Beltway outsider.

Romney has campaigned in Maryland. Santorum hasn't.

Then there's Restore Our Future again, spending nearly $900,000 on television ads for him there.

And Santorum failed to file to appear on the District of Columbia ballot.

Romney could really start to pull away Tuesday. Most of the delegates at stake in all three states are winner-take-all, not the proportional contests that dominated the first three months of voting.


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