Mitt Romney has struggled all campaign to bridge the disparate wings of the Republican Party. The affluent love him, the working- and middle-class harbor trepidations. Evangelical voters suspect he is not one of them, less actively religious voters like his chances against President Obama.
This week, he connected the party’s young and old. On Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the embodiment of the GOP’s 2010 electoral successes and pin cushion for national ticket hopes, announced his support for Romney. Today, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., personification of congressional Republicans’ intensive concentration on fiscal conservatism, did the same.
In between, during a brief and at-times meandering appearance in Houston, Romney won the endorsement of former President George H.W. Bush, emblematic of an earlier, gentler GOP and the very model of a senior statesman.
That Romney has so completely lined up the party heavyweights -- although Alex Roarty clocks one notable missing from the parade -- is unsurprising; he is the party’s nominee in all but name and bottom line. What’s unknown is the extent to which his acquired institutional muscle can succeed in forcing Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich from the race in time to ensure that Romney has the stage -- and direct line of argument with Obama -- with ample time to build more bridges.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Paul Ryan Endorses Romney
[National Journal, 3/30/12] House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan officially endorsed Romney for the GOP presidential nomination this morning, saying he has “the best chance of defeating Barack Obama.” The endorsement comes just days ahead of the primary in Wisconsin, Ryan's home state.
Poll: Romney Leads by Single Digits in Wisconsin
[National Journal, 3/30/12] Romney has a 7-point lead over Santorum in next week's Wisconsin primary, according to a new NBC News/Marist poll released early today. It also shows President Obama well ahead of his GOP challengers in the Badger State.
Obama Camp Calls for Romney Tax Returns
[Wall Street Journal, 3/29/12] Obama’s reelection campaign is calling on Romney to release his tax returns dating back to the 1980s to see if they contain information about a special investment arrangement that may have swelled the retirement accounts of Bain Capital employees.
Tough Math for Santorum Gets Tougher
[Wall Street Journal, 3/30/12] Romney is sailing toward the first election day of April not only favored to win all three of Tuesday’s contests but also highly likely to emerge from the day with his delegate lead greatly widened over the rest of the field, making it even harder for Santorum to realistically catch up. Santorum had better hope that Wisconsin polls are bad, as usual.
Total TV Tab: $87 Million
[National Journal, 3/29/12] That's the amount spent by all the GOP candidates and their super PACs combined, but the bulk of that has been spent on Romney's behalf. Watch National Journal's Matt Vasilogambros on MSNBC discuss some of the over-the-top campaign ads from this election cycle.
For-Profit Colleges Donate to Pro-Romney Super PAC
[USA Today, 3/29/12] For-profit colleges and individuals with ties to them have donated $430,000 to a super PAC spending millions of dollars to help elect Romney — even as the industry faces intense federal scrutiny over recruitment practices, educational quality, and the amount of debt its students incur.
Santorum: Ryan's Budget Doesn't Go Far Enough
[The Hill, 3/29/12] Santorum signaled partial but not total support for Paul Ryan's 2013 budget plan, which was approved by the House earlier on Thursday. He said it didn't go far enough in slashing government spending. "It's five trillion dollars over 10 years," he said. "We need five trillion over five years."
[National Journal, 3/29/12] National Journal’s Beth Reinhard writes that at a time when it makes sense for Romney to start reaching out to independents and Democrats with his jobs-first message, the politics surrounding Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election are forcing him to engage in a heated debate over labor rights. Meanwhile, Romney is attacking Santorum for being too cozy with labor.
Romney’s Hawkish Stands Drawing Attention
[Wall Street Journal, 3/29/12] Romney’s labeling of Russia this week as America’s "No. 1 geopolitical foe" has drawn attention to his emerging hawkishness on several foreign policy fronts, fanning concerns that his desire to contrast himself with Obama has led to extreme positions.
Gingrich Says Three GOP Rivals Agree: Time to Focus Fire on Obama
[National Journal, 3/30/12] Gingrich confirmed Friday that he met with Mitt Romney last week in New Orleans and said that all of his rivals have been talking together about how best to defeat Barack Obama in the fall. He did not indicate that he had any plans on dropping out, however.
Ron Paul Brings his Message to Thousands at U. of Wisconsin
[Wisconsin State Journal, 3/30/12] More than 3,000 boisterous college students gathered at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Thursday to see Ron Paul, who is hoping to break a trend of drawing enthusiastic young crowds only to follow up with disappointing election-night results.
Santorum Repeating Missteps of 2006 Calamity
[Huffington Post, 3/30/12] The senator who stumbled so badly six years ago in his reelection bid is the same candidate now locked in the race for the Republican presidential nomination: pugnacious and unscripted, talented at retail politics but often his own worst enemy.
Maryland Votes: All Four GOP Camps Have Their Say
[Baltimore Sun, 3/29/12] Representatives from the four major campaigns write for the newspaper about why their candidate is the best man for the job ahead of Tuesday’s Maryland primary.
Romney Supporters Yearning for Personal Side
[New York Times, 3/29/12] On the campaign trail these days, voters often talk of their yearning to see more of Romney’s personal side. But it is not clear that Romney can satisfy Republican voters’ desire for such warm, revealing moments.
Gingrich Talks Motorcycles in Wisconsin
[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/29/12] Newt Gingrich brought his faltering presidential campaign to Marquette University on Thursday night, seeking to inspire around 300 spectators with a talk centered on values and innovation and a recent visit to the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. The pro-Gingrich super PAC has also started spending money again.
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