Romney Takes Lead in Pennsylvania, Santorum Takes a Break

BY Christina Bellantoni and Ryan C. Brooks  April 5, 2012 at 8:51 AM EDT

Mitt Romney; photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A new survey shows Mitt Romney, above, leading Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Mitt Romney has Pennsylvania to himself on Thursday.

And he might just have it to himself on April 24.

While the front-runner stumps through, Rick Santorum is taking a few days off the campaign trail for Easter and won’t be back to talk with voters in his home state until Monday. A late-night release from the Santorum campaign promises he’ll return for “a full-calendar of events” next week. The message, amid speculation he might drop out to avoid a potential embarrassing loss in the Keystone State: I’m not going away.

A new survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling shows Romney now leading Santorum, 42 percent to 37 percent, in Pennsylvania, a swing of “23 points in the last four weeks.” PPP notes in its analysis that just over a third of GOP voters think Santorum has a chance at capturing the party nomination, while more than half think he’s out of luck. And Romney’s favorability has increased in recent weeks.

While Romney enjoys the spotlight, he’ll also rack up some new endorsements. The Texas Tribune’s Jay Root scooped that National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas will back Romney. Also signing up on Team Romney are Texas Reps. John Carter and Mac Thornberry.

It’s yet another signal from party establishment to Santorum, ahead of the May 29 Texas primary he says he can win.

On Wednesday’s NewsHour, Judy Woodruff talked with Christina and Patchwork Nation‘s Dante Chinni about Romney’s pivot to the general election.

Dante (@dchinni) noted that from here on out, Romney and President Obama will be competing for the same suburban voters in battleground states.

Christina talked about the GOP’s efforts to match the Obama organization at the state level and reported that the Republican National Committee has opened new offices in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, and will be hiring Hispanic outreach directors. As the president’s re-election team celebrated the one-year anniversary of the campaign’s beginning, they are patting themselves on the back for recognizing Romney was always the foe to target, Christina said.

Watch the segment here or below.

And don’t miss Dante’s wrap-up of how Romney won in Wisconsin.

SCOTUS v. POTUS

On Wednesday night, Jeffrey Brown moderated a discussion about the historical tug-of-war between presidents and the high court. Randy Barnett and Louis Michael Seidman disagreed about Mr. Obama’s recent rhetoric about the court’s role when it comes to the health care reform law.

Seidman argued that presidents going back to Abraham Lincoln have been campaigning against the Supreme Court .

But Barnett said the president’s comments this week reached a new level. “I think Roosevelt was quite vocal in criticizing decisions of the court, but not criticizing deliberations of the court. I think that’s something new and something different,” he said.

Watch the segment here or below.

DUELING WEB VIDEOS

The RNC went through Mr. Obama’s tough talk about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget blueprint and found he has been saying many of the same things for a long time. The team put together this web video, which went viral Wednesday.

Watch it here or below.

Romney joined in the attacks with a web video saying the president is “mudslinging” to mask high gas prices. Watch it here.

Team Obama did its own web video going after Romney’s critique of the president, which you can watch here.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • Politico’s Jonathan Martin scoops that former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is joining Team Romney. The campaign announced the move Thursday morning.

  • The Obama campaign restarts the “Fired Up, Ready to Go” slogan with a new video starring Edith Childs. Watch it here. Christina has written a lot about Ms. Childs over the last few years.

  • Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel on the ongoing discussions among Democrats about whether to back gay marriage in the party platform.

  • Romney leads Santorum, 2-to-1, in a new Quinnipiac poll of New York Republicans. The Empire State votes April 24.

  • The Washington Post’s Jason Horowitz delivers a curtain-raiser on that contest.

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer writes about Santorum on the trail.

  • Michelle Obama will appear on the Colbert Report next week.

  • Morning Line readers, no doubt, are already seeing the breathless coverage of so-called “veepstakes” as Romney thinks about a potential running mate this fall. You can count on us to keep track of the contenders, but this won’t be the space for speculation.

  • !!!

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama will attend fundraisers at hotels in Washington, D.C., at 5:35 p.m. and 8:10 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney attends a meet-and-greet in Harrisburg, Pa., at 10:10 a.m. He will also attend an energy event in Tunkhannock, Pa., at 2:45 p.m.

  • Newt Gingrich campaigns in Delaware, giving a speech in Greenwich at 1:30 p.m., holding a rally in Magnolia at 5 p.m. and another rally in Millsboro at 7 p.m.

  • Ron Paul holds a fundraiser in San Francisco at 2:30 p.m. He will also hold a town hall in Berkeley, Calif., at 10 p.m.

  • Rick Santorum has no public events scheduled.

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.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers and @suddinengel.