SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Mitt Romney is taking no chances in his drive for the 1,144 delegates he needs to formally capture the Republican presidential nomination. At a meeting of the Republican National Committee here, Romney allies are locking down commitments from fellow committee members for votes at the national convention in Tampa this summer.
Romney, who will address the RNC on Friday, was scheduled to meet privately with committee members who have pledged to vote for him at the convention before his address here.
Saul Anuzis, a committee member whipping for Romney, said Romney allies expect to leave the meeting with as many as 120 of the 168 committee members pledging to vote for their man at the convention. Romney has grabbed 685 delegates so far this primary season, according to the Associated Press.
Unlike Democrats, whose party rules allow hundreds of party leaders and elected officials -- so-called super delegates -- to vote at their national convention, Republicans only allow members of their national committee a guaranteed spot at the convention. Romney has had the most success locking down support from RNC members. Only a small handful are bound to back former House Speaker Newt Gingrich or former Sen. Rick Santorum, and just one member has said he will vote for Rep. Ron Paul.
But this is a delicate time for some RNC members, many of whom must face their own reelection bids at state conventions in the coming weeks. Many members are being challenged by candidates positioning themselves to the right of the incumbent, making a Romney endorsement a potentially risky move.
The pledge RNC members are being asked to sign includes an option to remain a private supporter, rather than a public endorser, in deference to members' individual political situations.