THE MORNING LINE -- April 25, 2012 at 9:10 AM EDT
Romney Sweeps Primaries in Five States, Turns Focus to Obama
Mitt Romney celebrates with supporters Tuesday night in Manchester, N.H. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
With his sweep of five states Tuesday, Mitt Romney seized the GOP nomination and made clear that his focus would now be directed squarely on President Obama.
"To all of the thousands of good and decent Americans I've met who want nothing more than a better chance, a fighting chance, to all of you I have a simple message," Romney told supporters in New Hampshire, the site of his first primary victory earlier this year. "Hold on a little longer. A better America begins tonight."
The former Massachusetts governor remains 300 delegates shy of the total needed to clinch his party's nomination officially, but he holds an insurmountable lead over his two remaining competitors, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
Gingrich had said he would reassess his candidacy depending on the outcome in Delaware, where he actively campaigned. He lost the state by nearly 30 points.
You can see results from Delaware and the other four states that held contests Tuesday -- Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island -- at our Vote 2012 Map Center.
The setting of Romney's victory speech Tuesday night signaled the certain arrival of the general election campaign, as the Granite State is likely to be a battleground contest this fall.
The pivot to the matchup with Mr. Obama also came through in Romney's message to voters, which addressed the idea of "fairness," a theme the president has highlighted in his recent speeches.
"We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice," Romney said. "We will stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends' businesses; we will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next."
Romney's general election message on the stump will be matched by an effort to bolster his campaign's infrastructure over the coming months, which includes coordinating with the Republican National Committee.
The Washington Post's Dan Balz and Philip Rucker report that process has already started.
The Romney campaign has been cooperating informally with RNC officials in preparation for this moment, but Tuesday's date has long been circled on calendars as the moment when more formal cooperation probably would begin.
"The results of tonight will be very important as we move to accelerate the communication between the RNC and the Romney campaign," Sean Spicer, the RNC communications director, said shortly before the polls closed.
Officials in the national party and the Romney campaign expect the integration to go smoothly, in contrast to what happened four years ago when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) became the nominee. Two members of Romney's team who are expected to play important roles in the process of synchronizing operations are Brian Jones, a veteran of the McCain campaign, and Kevin Madden, a longtime adviser to the Romney operation.
THE YOUTH VOTE
As further evidence that the general election campaign is already underway, both the president and Romney are pushing hard to win over key constituencies, such as young voters.
Democratic National Committee executive director Patrick Gaspard and Alex Schriver, chairman of the College Republican National Committee, joined Gwen Ifill on Tuesday to discuss what's driving young people this year.
They both note that enthusiasm is slightly down since the historic primary and general elections in 2008, and that young voters likely will be driven to the polls this November by issues.
Schriver said that young people's unemployment levels may sway them toward Romney, while Gaspard outlined the president's plan to control student loan debt.
Watch the discussion here or below:
ARIZONA'S DAY IN COURT
The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday morning on Arizona's controversial immigration law, S.B. 1070.
In essence, the law gives Arizona the power to check for suspected undocumented immigrants and arrest those without papers. The Supreme Court will decide whether the law supersedes the federal government's authority to manage immigration. Though it's not part of the case itself, opponents to the law, including President Obama, have deemed it a gateway to racial profiling of Hispanics.
The NewsHour traveled to Arizona for a full view of the case's stakes. Correspondent Tom Bearden spoke with ranchers, an undocumented immigrant and the sheriff who vows to continue finding illegal immigrants and put them in a tent-city jail.
Watch Bearden's report here or below:
Tune into the NewsHour on its livestream Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET for more on the Supreme Court arguments.
2012 LINE ITEMS
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum told CNN's Piers Morgan Tuesday night that "Mitt Romney's going to be the nominee and I'm going to support the nominee whoever the nominee is.
Jack Gillum and Stephen Braun of the Associated Press dig into the level of disclosure among donors to super PACs.
Crossroads GPS, a conservative group, will spend $1.2 million to slam Democratic U.S. Senate candidates with attack ads. Here's the snappy ad against former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, plus links to others. (via Politico's James Hohmann)
The Washington Post's Nia Malika-Henderson and Aaron Blake look at the backlash from the left and the right over the Romney campaign's hiring of a new foreign policy adviser.
The Washington Post finds sources that say sordid behavior by Secret Service members has happened before. This article also updates the story after more agency members are out of a job and a second person under investigation was cleared. Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the agency, will likely address the scandal at a congressional hearing Wednesday.
The left-leaning Public Policy Polling finds that Gov. Rick Perry's approval rating in Texas hasn't recovered after his failed presidential bid.
POTUS slow jammed the news on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
"I'll be with Dave Matthews later" - And, with that Obama just lost 18-29 year old vote. But, he can win over "easy listening" adult demo.— amy walter (@amyewalter) April 24, 2012
When Newt rides a herd of giraffes into Tampa & steals nomination w/ a speech that makes Lincoln rise & endorse him, won't you feel silly— Drew Cline (@DrewHampshire) April 24, 2012
OUTSIDE THE LINES
Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz reports that Rep. Mark Critz defeated fellow Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire in Pennsylvania's redrawn 12th Congressional District. Critz will face attorney Keith Rothfus in the competitive western district near Pittsburgh.
The Allentown Morning Call reports that veteran Democratic Rep. Tim Holden lost a primary challenge to political newcomer Matt Cartwright.
Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and his likely Democratic opponent this fall, Elizabeth Warren, have said they will release multiple years of tax returns. He's putting out six; she's agreed to release four. This race is one of our "Senate Six" to watch in 2012.
The government and the U.S. tourism industry are teaming up to promote travel to the United States, according to American Public Media's Marketplace.
Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Ill., calls about 4,000 of his 70,000 constituents each year. Most like to hear from him, but he's not running for re-election. Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times profiles him.
Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio "was the subject of a threat deemed credible enough to merit police protection in Washington D.C. and at his home in West Miami," reports the Miami Herald's Marc Caputo.
The News & Observer reports on Day 2 in the John Edwards trial.
ON THE TRAIL
All events are listed in Eastern Time.
President Obama visits the University of Iowa in Iowa City, participating in a roundtable with students at 1:20 p.m. and delivering remarks at 2:20 p.m. on preventing student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1.
Mitt Romney has no public campaign events scheduled.
Newt Gingrich campaigns in North Carolina with stops in Cramerton at 8 a.m., Denver at 9:45 a.m., Kings Mountain at 11:30 a.m., Mooresboro at 1:30 p.m. and Boiling Springs at 2:45 p.m.
Ron Paul holds a town hall in El Paso, Texas, at 9 p.m.
All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.