Just as the Republican primary sputters into monotony, Mitt Romney consistently shoveling more delegates and meaningful states onto his seemingly unassailable claim on the nomination, President Obama on Tuesday added some punctuation.
Obama's rhetorical elevation of Romney in his address at the American Society of News Editors -- even in sarcastic disparagement -- wasn't necessary to gold-plate the former Massachusetts governor as the presumptive nominee. Romney and the foibles of his series of challengers have seen to that. But it was a reminder of where Team Obama's eyes have been set all along.
Romney's handle on his party's most energetic blocs is not as secure as his grip on the nomination, clutched even more tightly after his three-state sweep tonight. But the cavalry, in the form of his party's institutionalized fundraisers, has arrived. And their cash, and counsel, will likely help Romney transition into the next stage of the campaign: leaving behind the doubts and woes of the primary, and forcing the referendum on the president.
He'll have to hustle to catch up. It's a fight on which his fall opponent has been focused for some time.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
WISCONSIN, MARYLAND, AND D.C. PRIMARIES
Romney: Obama Left 'Out of Touch' By True Believers
[Chicago Tribune, 4/3/12] In his victory speech tonight, Mitt Romney said that the past four years have made President Obama incapable of understanding the plight of average Americans, and called the president an "out-of-touch libera[l]" in his victory speech to supporters in Wisconsin following his trio of wins tonight.
Wisconsin Exit Polls: 8 in 10 Voters Believe Romney Will Be GOP Nominee
[ABC, 4/3/12] In Maryland, exit polls reveal voters think Romney is far more electable and experienced than Rick Santorum, and in Wisconsin, voters expect Romney to be the ultimate nominee.
Santorum: 'It's Halftime'
[National Journal, 4/3/12] Santorum vowed to press on despite a trio of losses on Tuesday night, insisting to supporters in Pennsylvania that "it's halftime" in the race.
Romney Wins D.C. Primary
[National Journal, 4/3/12] Romney didn’t face much of a fight in the nation’s capital, where chief rival Santorum didn’t even manage to make it onto the ballot, and so cruised to an easy win in D.C.
Romney Wins Wisconsin Primary
[National Journal , 4/3/12] Romney dealt a bruising blow to Santorum with a projected win in Wisconsin on Tuesday night, shifting Santorum's attention to the next make-or-break state to vote, Pennsylvania.
Romney Wins Maryland Primary
[National Journal, 4/3/12] There were 37 total delegates at stake in Maryland, and Romney secured at least the 13 that are awarded to the statewide winner. The remaining 24 will be allotted according to congressional districts.
Romney, Ryan Accused Of Bribing Voters With Sandwiches
[BuzzFeed, 4/3/12] Romney and Ryan passed out subs to voters while Romney told them to "bring your friends to the polls, get out and vote." Wisconsin Democrats saw this as poetntial bribery, and have filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
Rick Santorum Has Much Riding on Pennsylvania Primary
[Washington Post, 4/3/12] He lost all three states to vote tonight, which puts even more pressure on Santorum to win his home state of Pennsylvania. A win there would replenish some of the validity Santorum's lost over his past few weeks of losses.
Obama Attacks Romney on Ryan Budget
[National Journal, 4/3/12] In a spirited speech today, President Obama for the first time took on Romney by name and mocked him for calling Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget ‘marvelous.’ Meanwhile, earlier today Romney appealed to the president not to simply blame Republicans for the current state of the economy and nation.
Romney's Focus on Obama Brings New Challenges
[Associated Press, 4/2/12] Because Romney still needs to focus some of his efforts on tamping down Santorum and gaining enough delegates to take the nomination, his campaign organization hasn't been able to shift to general campaign mode -- even if Romney's rhetoric has.
Obama’s Gender Advantage: A Closer Look
[National Journal, 4/3/12] Poll results that reveal the magnitude of the Obama’s gender advantage underscore the challenge Romney will face in dislodging the president’s hold on white-collar women votes after the primary campaign’s sharp right turn on social issues – particularly contraception.
GOP Primary 2012: The Thrill is Gone
[National Journal, 4/3/12] As the GOP race winds down, voters once on the edge of their seats now have the primaries down to a science: States with more moderate, secular voters fall to Romney, while states with superconservatives and evangelicals go to Santorum. What was once viewed as a competitive primary in Wisconsin on Tuesday is now expected to go to Romney, National Journal’s Beth Reinhard writes.
Gingrich: 'Either Romney Will Self-Destruct or Romney Will Be the Nominee'
[Washington Examiner, 4/2/12] Gingrich tells the Examiner’s Byron York that his campaign is not really about winning the nomination anymore, and is instead focused on a strategy of persuading GOP delegates to adopt a platform that will hold Romney to conservative positions.
Romney's Getting Blown Out in Caucuses and the South
[Slate, 4/3/12] Slate's Dave Weigel writes that it's possible to predict Romney's success by paying attention to the geography of each contest, and that he could become the first GOP candidate ever to win the nomination without taking a Southern state.
Romney, RNC to Raise Funds Jointly
[Wall Street Journal, 4/2/12] In a move that shows Republicans are coalescing around the party's front-runner, Romney plans to begin raising money jointly with the Republican National Committee this week as the GOP braces for an expensive battle against President Obama.
Weighing When Slim Hopes Become a GOP Problem
[New York Times, 4/2/12] With backing from big-name Republicans, huge financial and delegate advantages, and even the focus of the Obama campaign, Romney is the GOP nominee in all but name. There’s just one hitch: Someone forgot to tell Santorum.
Obama Ad Shoots the Messenger
[National Journal, 4/2/12] The Obama camp's new ad, unveiled Monday, is notable for its defensive crouch on energy prices and its attack against Romney for being a pawn of “Big Oil.” But National Journal’s Alex Roarty writes that it also takes aim at another prominent target: spending by conservative outside groups.
Romney Attacks Obama on Immigration
[National Journal, 4/2/12] In a pitch aimed at the nation’s growing pool of Hispanic voters, Romney attacked President Obama on Monday for failing to fix the nation’s broken immigration system. He said Obama “chooses to do nothing” about fixing America’s immigration laws despite pledging to make the issue a priority.