SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Republican National Committee sees Tuesday's primary contests in several Northeastern states as the moment at which the party can semiofficially declare Mitt Romney the presumptive presidential nominee, Chairman Reince Priebus said on Thursday.
"This Tuesday, I think, is probably going to be a defining moment for our decision-making as to whether or not we move forward with the declaration of Mitt Romney being the presumptive nominee," Priebus said in an interview with National Journal. "It's sort of the culmination of the primary season right now, so that's why I'm waiting for Tuesday."
Priebus said he maintains close contact with all three candidates who remain in the race, but that the time to begin fully coordinating with Romney's campaign is drawing near.
"I'm going to talk to, obviously, Speaker [Newt] Gingrich and Congressman [Ron] Paul before we do anything and get their assessment, but I think we're reaching a point where we need to start moving forward not just on the edges but right down the center of the interstate."
"As we sit here today, it is true that we are communicating with Boston on a regular basis. But it's also true that I spoke to Newt Gingrich yesterday for a long time, and I continue to show him and Congressman Paul the respect that they deserve," he added.
Romney's campaign and the RNC have begun coordinating closely, raising money under a joint fundraising agreement and making plans to unify more closely at the staff level. Priebus frequently referred to "Boston," a shorthand for Romney's campaign headquarters, and during the interview Massachusetts National Committeeman Ron Kaufman -- one of Romney's closest advisers -- came in to say hello.
Though Romney has yet to technically wrap up the delegates he needs to win the nomination on the first ballot at the party's convention in Tampa, the annual meeting of state party chairmen has the air of a coalescence around Romney's candidacy. Romney will address the meeting of RNC members on Friday, and several of his top advisers -- including attorney Ben Ginsberg and campaign aide Jason McBride -- are holding meetings on the side.
Now that former Sen. Rick Santorum has dropped out of the race, Romney is expected to run the table in Tuesday's contests in Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Delaware.