For Romney, Race Is a Numbers Game

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  March 9, 2012 at 9:10 AM EST

Romney supporters; photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Supporters of Mitt Romney in Boston celebrate on Super Tuesday. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

When the news cycle is dominated by questions of when — not if — your rivals should exit the race, it’s probably been a good day for Mitt Romney.

But as the contest slogs on, Romney will also have to deal with stories like Jason Horowitz’s in Friday’s Washington Post.

Horowitz begins the piece: “There are people who are passionate about Mitt Romney. Really.” The story focuses on the lack of enthusiasm for the front-runner, and Horowitz writes, “The problem for the Romney camp is that the business executives, comfortable suburbanites and business-school types who are most effusive about his candidacy help reinforce the enduring conservative critique of the candidate as out of touch with everyman experience and anger.” Therefore, Horowitz continues, “Romney has taken to arguing that the entire idea of enthusiasm is overrated.”

(It’s a topic Judy Woodruff tackled in her blog this week, asking, “What is it that’s preventing Republican voters from showing more enthusiasm for Mitt Romney?”)

Also Friday, the New York Times’ Michael Shear compares Romney to former President George H.W. Bush, noting each has been awkward and seemingly disconnected from everyday people.

As Romney is telling reporters, it remains a math game.

The Washington Times’ Stephen Dinan and Ralph Z. Hallow uncovered an interesting tidbit Thursday. The Republican National Committee sent members a chart showing Newt Gingrich in second place in the delegate count, ahead of Rick Santorum.

They write:

Frontrunner Mitt Romney has earned 339 delegates to the August nominating convention in Tampa, Fla., or more than the rest of the field combined, according to a chart the RNC sent to its members on Thursday.

Mr. Gingrich is second with 107 delegates, topping Mr. Santorum’s 95 delegates and the 22 delegates pledged to Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

For his part, Paul is making it sound like he can still reach the magic 1,144 number of delegates. The congressman wrote a fundraising email to supporters Thursday night insisting that the press “got the Super Tuesday story wrong. Very wrong. Again.”

“The fact is, just like in many of the earlier contests, very few delegates to the Republican National Convention were decided on Tuesday. Most will be decided several weeks, or even months, from now at District and State conventions — conventions where our local delegates will have a big say in who goes to Tampa,” Paul wrote, noting his team expects him to capture “a plurality of delegates in at least three states.”

“I am determined to proudly battle on, picking up more delegates and skewering the pretensions and historical rewrites of ALL the establishment candidates — Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich,” Paul wrote. “[W]ith our activists swarming local and county delegate selections, you and I will surely end up with an army of delegates… IF we don’t give up now.”

Paul also wrote that he spends time on the road in states holding contests, “leaving my family and home for weeks on end,” even though he frequently takes a few days off from campaigning.

STORMING THE SOUTH

After a day off the trail following Super Tuesday, Romney turned his attention to Mississippi on Thursday, holding a late afternoon event in Pascagoula, where he referred to himself as “an unofficial Southerner.”

“I am learning to say ‘y’all.’ I like grits,” he joked. “Strange things are happening to me.”

But the former Massachusetts governor admitted in a radio interview with WAPI in Birmingham, Ala., that the upcoming contests in Southern states were not friendly turf for him, calling the region “a bit of an away game.”

Romney said his focus was on getting to the 1,144 delegates needed to claim the nomination. “I’m confident we’re going to get some delegates. That, of course, is what this is all about — getting the delegates necessary to become the nominee. But getting the majority of the delegates, that would be icing on the cake,” he said.

WATCHING THE WOMEN’S VOTE

Judy talked with Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus and Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus on Thursday’s NewsHour about Democrats’ efforts to win over female voters by saying the GOP has declared a “war on women.”

Jacobus said it’s much ado about nothing: “[W]omen are people and they care a lot about the same things that men do. They care about jobs, they care about the economy…The good news for Republicans, for Mitt Romney, the probable GOP nominee, is that economic issues, jobs really do matter, and he can compete with Obama on that.”

Marcus’ take: “I sometimes think watching this debate right now that the Obama campaign has some kind of sleeper agent in the Republican Party that is creating this kerfuffle, because it just can’t be good for Republicans.”

Watch the segment here or below.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • The New York Times’ Robert Pear writes that the Obama administration is attempting to influence public opinion ahead of Supreme Court hearings later this month on the health care law.

  • The Romney campaign had $7.3 million in cash on hand after raising $11.5 million in February. Eighty-three percent of the donations were for $250 or less, according to the campaign.

  • Politico’s Anna Palmer writes that Romney is working to “stave off donor fatigue” with “a rallying cry to his supporters in Congress, asking them to kick in cash and get their best donors on board, too,” Palmer writes. He asked the 80 Republican lawmakers who have endorsed him to raise $10,000 each for a fundraiser at the end of the month in Washington. By law, they can personally contribute $2,000 from their reelection committees; the rest would need to come from their supporters.

  • The Democratic National Committee is going after Romney as dishonest, posting a web video Friday morning about his changing positions on health care and other policy issues.

Watch the video here or below.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Roll Call’s John Stanton takes a look at the grim prospects for House Speaker John Boehner’s highway bill.

  • NewsHour Capitol Hill producer Linda J. Scott reports on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s push for his own transportation bill as the House version stalls.

  • Politico’s Erica Martinson and Dan Berman report on Thursday’s vote in the Senate on the Keystone XL pipeline. They note that tally, with 11 Democrats joining 45 Republicans in support of the measure, should serve as a warning sign to the administration that majorities in both chambers favor the project.

  • The Washington Post’s Rosalind Helderman looks at the links between Romney and Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who is facing a tough re-election fight.

  • Abby Goodnough of the New York Times looks at Hollywood support for the Democratic Senate candidate in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, and how Brown is attempting to use that enthusiasm against her.

  • Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who lost a Democratic primary to Rep. Marcy Kaptur in Ohio on Tuesday, told Talking Points Memo’s Sahil Kapur that he is “at peace” with what happened but noted he is “open” to other possibilities for future runs.

  • The NewsHour tackles the Stop Kony viral video that has lit up the Internet.

  • Christina is moderating a South by Southwest panel Sunday about how social media has changed the campaign. Here are the details, tell all your friends.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama speaks at a Rolls Royce manufacturing facility in Prince George, Va., at 12:30 p.m. He then travels to Houston and will speak at two private campaign fundraisers at 6:50 p.m. and 8:50 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney holds a town hall in Jackson, Miss., at 9:25 a.m. and attends a campaign event in Birmingham, Ala., at 3:30 p.m.

  • Newt Gingrich holds three Mississippi rallies: in Meridian at 10:30 a.m., Ellisville at 1 p.m. and Gulfport at 4 p.m. He also attends a rally in Mobile, Ala., at 8 p.m.

  • Ron Paul campaigns in Kansas, holding a rally in Topeka at 1:30 p.m., addressing a Tea Party convention in Wichita at 4:30 p.m. and hosting another rally in Lawrence at 8:30 p.m.

  • Rick Santorum holds a rally in Wichita, Kan., at 5 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


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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.