The American voting populace was watching basketball on TV today, the first real day of the NCAA basketball tourney. And, increasingly, they’re watching Mitt Romney on TV.
Romney by tonight will have done three hits with Fox News the last two days, and had a private meeting with CBS's Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes today. The former Massachusetts chief executive has been AWOL on the Sunday shows and his TV interview performances have been spotty, but he’s more and more going on-air to pitch, still, inevitability.
Timely, too, because Tuesday’s Pew Research Center poll showed him 12 points down against President Obama. That number will move. More troublesome for Romney were the inside numbers: Just 28 percent support him “strongly.” And his unfavorable/favorable numbers are so far underwater as to jostle with shipwrecks: 29 percent/51 percent.
Rick Santorum’s numbers aren’t any better. But Santorum’s not the one pinning his candidacy on the argument that he’ll wrap up the nomination before Tampa.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
How Romney Lost Latinos
[Politico, 3/14/12] The GOP may be undoing a decade of work to attract Hispanics, thanks to its election-year rhetorical sprint to the right on immigration, a charge led by front-runner Mitt Romney.
Has Mitt Romney Run a Lousy Campaign?
[The Atlantic, 3/15/12] Maybe Romney's poor performance isn't due to the fact that he's an unappealing candidate – rather, it could be the result of an inefficient campaign operation that's made a number of clear strategic mistakes.
How Romney Can Make Over His Campaign
[Politico, 3/15/12] Romney’s campaign could stand a reboot. He needs to break some bad habits: talking delegate math, campaigning without a message, predicting he’ll win states, pretending he’s not a rich guy and making the campaign all about him. But then again, things could be worse.
Across Four Aprils: Mitt Romney's Long, Careful Health Care Evolution NEW!
[BuzzFeed, 3/15/12] He was for the individual mandate, then he wasn't. He suggested Massachusetts' health care law was a sound model for the rest of the U.S., but now advocates far less government involvement in health care. Buzz Feed's Andrew Kaczynski takes a look at how Romney's views have changed.
Santorum Strains to Compete in a Marathon
[Wall Street Journal, 3/15/12] The GOP contest is a marathon, not a sprint: It is increasingly focused on the gradual accumulation of delegates, with headline victories mattering less than meticulous organization. But the shoestring Santorum campaign wasn’t designed for a marathon race. Meanwhile, the delegate math is adding up for Romney.
Do the Math: Santorum’s Best Shot May Be Gingrich’s Remaining in the Race
[ABC News, 3/15/12] It may be true that there's no way any candidate alone can win enough delegates to prevent Romney from gaining the nomination, but together? If Gingrich continues to gain delegates and teams up with Santorum at the convention, perhaps then Santorum could snag the nomination.
Gingrich Casts Himself As Key to Stop Romney
[New York Times, 3/14/12] Face with intensifying pressure to get out of the race, the Gingrich camp is claiming that his exit would all but hand the nomination to Romney, who they say has been hurt by having two conservative candidates siphoning votes and delegates away from him in every state.
Illinois Next Big GOP Presidential Battleground NEW!
[USA Today, 3/14/12] The divide among Illinois Republican voters ahead of Tuesday’s primary is emblematic of the tug of war between Republican moderates and the conservative base that has characterized the race so far. Romney's already spending big there, and CNN reports that Santorum's campaign made a $310,000 ad buy in the state today.
In Illinois, Romney Camp Lets Inadequate Santorum Petitions Slide
[Chicago Daily Herald, 3/14/12] Santorum’s shoestring campaign nearly hurt him again, this time in the Land of Lincoln—of the 18 congressional districts in Illinois, Santorum’s campaign failed to file the necessary amount of petitions to appear on the ballot in 14 of them. But in January, Romney’s campaign decided not to challenge the screw-up. Still, Santorum remains ineligible for 12 of the state’s 54 delegates.
Swing Voters: Diverse, Misunderstood, and Crucial in 2012
[Los Angeles Times, 3/14/12] As the GOP primary battle has focused on the most conservative parts of the party’s core, several polls have shown Obama making headway with independents. Such swing voters are a crucial – and often misunderstood – piece of the American electorate.
Let the Campaign Begin; Biden to Rip Republicans
[National Journal, 3/15/12] Vice President Joe Biden will tear into Republicans, though not by name, in a speech today in Toledo, Ohio—the first of several slashing Biden speeches Obama's reelection campaign plans as table-setters for the fall campaign.
Santorum Downplays Senate Defeat NEW!
[Associated Press, 3/15/12] Santorum tries to explain away his 2006 defeat in Pennsylvania as part of a tide that swept Republicans out, and as punishment for him holding true to his beliefs. But a discerning look at the facts reveals Santorum's stretching the truth a bit.
Missouri Starts Caucuses, Winner Won’t Be Known Till June
[Associated Press, 3/12/12] Call it the Show-Me-Later State. Even though Missouri held a nonbinding primary in February, it is also in the beginning stages of caucuses that started on Tuesday. The state doesn’t get around to awarding all of its delegates until June 2.
California Could Decide the GOP Nominee
[Washington Post, 3/15/12] California offers 172 delegates when it goes to vote on June 5, and however unappealing such a drawn-out race might be for the candidates, it could be the state where the road ends.
GOP Hopefuls Turn Attention to North Carolina
[McClatchy, 3/15/12] North Carolina Republicans don't vote until May 8, but with the way the race is going so far, it may turn out to be yet another unexpected battleground state.
Paul: ‘It’s About Time’ GOP Rivals Moved His Way on Afghanistan
[National Journal, 3/15/12] Ron Paul calls recent shifts by some of his rivals on the war in Afghanistan a sign that he’s “winning the fight” with his signature hands-off foreign policy. Paul won standing ovations from some 4,600 people Wednesday night at a University of Illinois rally, his largest turnout ever, for his calls to "bring our troops home!"
Santorum Clarifies His Comments on English in Puerto Rico
[Wall Street Journal, 3/15/12] Santorum clarified his statements from yesterday that Puerto Rico, where citizens speak both English and Spanish, should accept English as its' official language to gain statehood..
Romney: We’re Not Going to a Brokered Convention
[National Journal, 3/15/12] Romney said Thursday on Fox News that there is no chance there will be a brokered Republican convention, and that he is generally pleased with the way the primary process has turned out.
Why We Should Have More Debates NEW!
[New York Magazine, 3/15/12] What?! More?! Yes, more than 20 GOP primary debates is a good idea, New York Magazine's Dan Amira writes. As the news changes, it would be useful to have candidates weigh in on issues that were at the fringes of American attention in previous debates.