Romney Narrowly Wins Ohio, Fails to Deliver Knockout Blow

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  March 7, 2012 at 9:04 AM EST

Mitt Romney; photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

GOP presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets supporters at a Super Tuesday night gathering in Boston. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

“I’m going to get this nomination,” Mitt Romney told elated supporters in Massachusetts Tuesday night.

Mathematically, he’s probably right.

But he won’t be able to claim that mantle any time soon, even after racking up six Super Tuesday wins, including an important victory by 12,019 votes in Ohio.

That’s because Romney’s rivals aren’t going anywhere. Rick Santorum put three wins on the board Tuesday in Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Dakota.

Newt Gingrich inched a little closer to Romney by capturing 47 percent in his home state of Georgia. But amassing more delegates won’t put the former speaker of the House any closer to becoming the man to challenge President Obama this fall. Gingrich came in third place in three states and in fourth place in five states. He’ll try to rack up more delegates with wins in Mississippi and Alabama next Tuesday, but it’s difficult to see a clear path for Gingrich.

Those two states, plus Kansas, which holds caucuses Saturday, will further test Romney’s ability to draw support from evangelical Christians and voters who identify themselves as “very conservative,” parts of the Republican base the former Massachusetts governor has struggled to sell on his candidacy thus far.

Still, it remains a delegate game, and Romney had the best evening by winning 203 of the 419 delegates at stake across the 10 states that had winners Tuesday.

And consider this: Romney net 32 delegates from his win in the Idaho caucuses.

President Obama’s team in Chicago knows arithmetic, which is why they remain focused squarely on Romney.

Expect the re-election effort to sharpen over the next few weeks. As Politico’s Mike Allen reported in his Playbook, Vice President Joe Biden is expected to hit four states to give “four framing speeches…on issues that will define the election.” He’ll start in the battleground state of Ohio.

Here is the Associated Press’ tally of delegates already won, including pledged super delegates who have announced their support for a candidate, courtesy of the Washington Post’s handy delegate tracker:

Romney: 415 delegates

Santorum: 176

Gingrich: 105

Paul: 47

Total needed to win: 1,144

(Here’s a primer on why the delegate counts differ for each news outlet.)

COVERED ON ALL PLATFORMS

The NewsHour updated viewers four times Tuesday night, including with our Election Special, which you can watch here or below:

Christina and Hari Sreenivasan took the conversation online, hosting the first-ever “After Hours” broadcast from the newsroom and calling Ohio for Romney moments after the Associated Press.

You can see each state’s results in our Vote 2012 Map Center. You can watch all four candidate speeches here.

MORE TO COME

Next on the calendar: Kansas, Mississippi and Alabama. The candidates are already moving on to campaign in those states, and spending is on the rise there.

In speeches Tuesday night, both Gingrich and Santorum talked about being outspent by Romney and his forces.

“I don’t think the Mitt Romney strategy of outspending your opponent 4- or 5-to-1 will work against Barack Obama because you cannot outspend the incumbent president,” Gingrich said after winning in Georgia.

After Santorum rattled off his victories during his speech in Ohio, he noted: “There wasn’t a single state in the list that I just gave you where I spent more money than the people I was able to defeat to win that state. In every case, we overcame the odds.”

Politico’s Alexander Burns reports that super PACs backing the candidates have already funneled $3 million into television ads for those three contests.

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OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Rep. Marcy Kaptur walloped fellow Rep. Dennis Kucinich by a 55-to-41-percent margin in Democratic primary battle for Ohio’s redrawn 9th Congressional District, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Henry Gomez. Kaptur will face Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, winner of the GOP primary, in the general election.

  • The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Deirdre Shesgreen reports that Rep. Jean Schmidt lost her GOP primary race against Brad Wenstrup in Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District. Schmidt was first elected to Congress in 2005. Wenstrup, a doctor, has never held public office before.

  • The Newark Star-Ledger tackles the delicate subject of who will succeed New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne, who died Tuesday from colon cancer.

  • Senate Republicans are bristling that the president has cut down on one of his ceremonial duties: signing bills in public, Roll Call’s Humberto Sanchez reports.

  • House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, warned his House GOP colleagues that he could submit his own version of the highway bill.

  • Christina will talk about how the Internet has changed television news in a call Thursday with Personal Democracy Forum. More details are here. She also is moderating a panel at South by Southwest in Austin this weekend. Here are the details, tell all your friends.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama delivers remarks at a Daimler truck manufacturing plant in Mt. Holly, N.C., at 12:45 p.m.

  • Newt Gingrich holds three rallies in Alabama: in Montgomery at 11:30 a.m., Pell City at 3:30 p.m. and Birmingham at 7:30 p.m.

  • Rick Santorum holds rallies in Lenexa, Kan., at 2:30 p.m., Tupelo, Miss., at 6 p.m. and Jackson, Miss., at 8:30 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney and Ron Paul have no public campaign 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.