The Mitt Romney endorsement train is leaving the station, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, became one of the last to jump on board. The senator, who is in prime position to become Romney’s running mate, gave an awfully lukewarm endorsement to the GOP frontrunner on Sean Hannity’s show last night. The establishment may be rallying around Romney, but it’s hardly been an enthusiastic show of support.
Rubio premised his endorsement out of his desire to end the Republican primary, fearing an elongated nomination fight would only help President Obama in the general election. He didn’t sound at all excited about the candidate himself. He represented a large swath of conservative voters, who are likely to cast their ballots for Romney as a vote against Obama, not one for Romney.
That said, Rubio is one of the few VP possibilities who could genuinely get the conservative grassroots excited about the GOP ticket. He’s a compelling speaker who’s one of the best articulator of conservative principles on the national stage. He hails from a must-win swing state. And his Hispanic background would give Romney a shot at making inroads within the Latino community, not to mention adding appeal to suburban independents by picking the first Hispanic on a national presidential ticket.
The conventional wisdom crowd (aka “Morning Joe” crew) has been pouring cold water on the prospect of a Romney-Rubio ticket, but the logic behind a selection is crystal clear. As evidenced by his halting appearance, Rubio may not want to face the glare of the national spotlight, yet. But even in defeat, being on the presidential ticket would put him in pole position for the ’16 nod.
—Josh Kraushaar, Hotline Executive Editor
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
In GOP Presidential Race, Fat Lady Finally Sings
[Roll Call, 3/29/12] Although not everyone agrees that the race is over, and although Romney has not yet accumulated the necessary 1,144 delegates to the GOP convention, Stuart Rothenberg writes that the chances are evaporating that he can be denied his party’s nomination.
Democrats Take Aim at Rubio-Romney on Immigration NEW!
[National Journal, 3/29/12] As speculation that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is the top pick for Romney's running mate reaches a fever pitch, Democrats are looking for a way to stop such a team in their tracks. The solution they've found? Attack both on their immigration stances.
Romney Scores Rubio Endorsement--and More
[National Journal, 3/28/12] Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida on Wednesday endorsed Romney for the GOP nomination and called a potential floor fight at the convention a "recipe for disaster.'' He also offered something even better: The rising figure in the conservative and tea party movements vouched for Romney's conservative credentials.
Meet Subdued Santorum
[New York Times, 3/28/12] After several highly publicized remarks that left many in his party questioning whether he had crossed the line in attacking a fellow Republican, presidential candidate Rick Santorum has struggled to find the balance between being a tenacious underdog and leaving himself open to criticism that he is just an embittered also-ran.
Why is the Press So Ready to Count Santorum Out? NEW!
[Columbia Journalism Review, 3/28/12] Though a Romney nomination seems like a foregone conclusion, he hasn't yet snagged all the delegates he needs, and there's still much time between now and the convention for the race to change yet again. But the media, for a number of reasons, are already discounting Santorum's run.
Romney Thrived at Harvard, But He Mocks Obama’s Tie to School
[Bloomberg, 3/28/12] Romney likes to take jabs at the president for representing the values of the Harvard faculty lounge. But while bashing Harvard is intended to paint Obama as an ivory-tower theorist, Romney owes his business career to the school.
Health Care Ruling May Pose Test for Candidates
[Boston Globe, 3/29/12] If the high court rules Obama’s health care law invalid, Republicans will no longer have the luxury of addressing the plan with a simple “I am against it” and move on to the next issue. Matt Viser explores the consequences of the ruling for the GOP candidates.
George H.W. Bush to Romney Rivals: Know 'When to Fold 'Em' NEW!
[National Journal, 3/29/12] The elder Bush formally endorsed Romney today, calling on Republicans to coalesce around his candidacy and calling Romney a "good man."
Obama Outspends GOP Rivals by Millions
[Associated Press, 3/29/12] Obama’s campaign has spent more than $135 million on operations through February--about $3 million more than all the GOP presidential candidates combined.
Total TV Tab: $87 Million NEW!
[National Journal, 3/29/12] That's the amount spent by all the GOP candidates and their super PACs combined, but more than half of that has been spent on Romney's behalf.
Romney Joke Produces Not-So-Funny Backlash
[National Journal, 3/28/12] An attempt at humor and friendly voter outreach backfired for Romney, when he joked that his father, George Romney, as an American Motors executive decades ago, once shut down a factory in Michigan and moved it to Wisconsin.
Former Student Janitor Tells Gingrich Job Was ‘Embarrassing’
[National Journal, 3/28/12] Newt Gingrich defended his proposal to have low-income students work as janitors in their schools after he was questioned on Wednesday by a recent college graduate who had held the job in high school and said he found the experience "embarrassing."
GOP Faces Digital Divide
[Politico, 3/29/12] Some conservatives fear that one of the biggest challenges for the GOP this year could be that when it comes to mobilizing volunteers, donors, and voters, they are sitting on the wrong side of a digital divide.
Santorum’s Narrow Coalition: A New Look
[National Journal, 3/28/12] An analysis of exit-poll data released on Wednesday suggests that Santorum's strength is confined almost entirely to the overlap of evangelical Christians who also consider themselves very conservative.
Romney’s Southern Strategy
[Salon, 3/28/12] While Romney was mostly ignoring Southern states, his super PAC was spending millions of dollars to lay the groundwork in the South. Salon offers a detailed analysis of spending and possible coordination between Romney and his big-money backers.
Romney's Attack Ad Strategy: Time for Obama Soon? NEW!
[Associated Press, 3/29/12] The Romney campaign is known for its attack ads, which have been extremely effective in taking down his opponents. As Romney begins to look towards the general election, the target of his attack-ad strategy may change, but the substance will likely stay the same.
In Wisconsin, Romney Links Santorum to 'Big Labor'
[Associated Press, 3/28/12] In an attempt at capitalizing on the gubernatorial recall effort in Wisconsin, Romney tried to link Santorum to Big Labor. Santorum, who often alludes to his industrial, blue-collar roots, is now aligning himself with Gov. Scott Walker and his controversial positions on labor unions.
Romney or Not, the GOP Is Coming for 'Obamacare'
[Politico, 3/29/12] GOP operatives and party officials have begun crafting a strategy that puts health care front-and-center in the campaign against Obama. But how will Republicans run against “Obamacare” with Romney at the top of their ticket?
Rubio's Biography Could Be Ultimate Boon for Romney
[National Journal, 3/28/12] Part of Romney’s problem is that he lacks a compelling personal story, as National Journal’s Tim Alberta writes. Young, charismatic, and Hispanic, Marco Rubio’s gripping personal narrative would make him all the more indispensable to the Romney camp come November.
Gingrich Camp: Picturing Newt’s Convention Ascension
[ABC, 3/29/12] Having cut one-third of his staff after poor primary contests and lackluster fundraising, Gingrich now pins his hopes of being the GOP nominee on keeping the other candidates from getting enough delegates to lock up the nomination. But supporters think that a convention fight would not only help the former House speaker but would also help the party.
The Ron Paul Roadies Had To Go Home NEW!
[BuzzFeed, 3/29/12] The six Ron Paul fans who loved the candidate so much they traveled around the country with him had to go home, due to a lack of finances.
Santorum Turns to Sports to Connect With Voters
[Wall Street Journal, 3/28/12] Ahead of Wisconsin’s April 3 primary, Santorum has begun using his sporting skills in an effort to connect with Midwestern voters. The candidate has bragged about his golf, baseball, and shooting abilities, and he recently showed off his bowling skills at a campaign rally.
Mitt’s Mission in France: Then, as Now, Romney Worked Methodically to Convert Skeptics NEW!
[Time, 3/29/12] When he was 21, Romney spent time as a Mormon missionary in France, knocking on thousands of doors to try to get just a handful of people to listen to his pitch. Vivienne Walt reports on what his time as a missionary reveals about Romney the candidate.