For Romney, Wisconsin Might Be Final Hurdle to Nomination

BY Christina Bellantoni and Ryan C. Brooks  April 3, 2012 at 9:09 AM EDT

Mitt Romney; photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Mitt Romney campaigns Monday in Milwaukee. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

In two states and one city, it’s so much more than Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day.

As voters in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Wisconsin head to the polls Tuesday, there are nearly 100 delegates at stake in the GOP presidential primary.

Mitt Romney is poised to net at least half of those, with Wisconsin being the prime target as he starts ignoring Rick Santorum and focusing on President Obama.

USA Today’s Susan Page summed it up in a discussion with Gwen Ifill on the NewsHour Monday:

“I think if Mitt Romney wins Wisconsin [Tuesday] night — and we expect him also to win D.C. and Maryland — that Wednesday morning starts the general election.”

Appearing with Page was the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Craig Gilbert, who noted that Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan has been Romney’s “inseparable escort” over the last few days.

Watch the segment here or below, and don’t miss the roaring fire behind Gilbert.

Could Santorum still win this battleground state?

The Real Clear Politics average has Romney up 7.5 percentage points in Wisconsin, and his team is feeling confident enough to hold his rally there Tuesday evening. Santorum will be moving on to his home state with a rally in Mars, Pa., ahead of its April 24 primary.

With the mathematical picture already murky for the magic number 1,144, it gets even more complicated with a look at bound and unbound delegates. For example, Team Romney gloated Monday that Santorum “lost delegates” from Super Tuesday projections in the caucus state of North Dakota, pointing reporters to this Frontloading HQ post.

LOOKING TO NOVEMBER

Everyone but Santorum seems to be fixated on Nov. 6.

President Obama’s team in Chicago released a new television ad focusing on the administration’s record on energy issues and hitting back against GOP groups that have been targeting him.

Here’s the spot, running in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia.

Mr. Obama also is looking to define Democratic spending priorities by campaigning against Rep. Ryan’s budget blueprint. The White House previewed remarks the president will deliver Tuesday at an Associated Press lunch, noting that he will say Ryan’s plan is a “prescription for decline” and a “Trojan Horse.”

As for Romney, his campaign will enter a new phase of general election fundraising.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Romney will start raising money jointly with the Republican National Committee.

Neil King Jr. and Brody Mullins write:

The move reflects a general clamor within the party to begin amassing the funds needed to compete with Mr. Obama’s fundraising operation, Romney and RNC advisers said. “Our donors are ready to mobilize for November,” said Andrea Saul, a Romney spokesperson. For the Republican nominee to be able to compete with the president’s re-election effort, “they need to get started now.”

Acknowledging that the nomination fight isn’t over, the RNC also invited other candidates to participate in joint fundraising, but with little expectation they would agree, RNC officials said.

SCOTUS ON STRIP SEARCHES

The NewsHour’s Elizabeth Summers reports that the Supreme Court on Monday decided, 5-4, that jail officials can strip-search incoming inmates, even if the charges against them are for minor offenses. Justices ruled against a New Jersey man who said his civil rights were violated when he was strip-searched twice after being arrested on an out-of-date warrant for an unpaid fine.

Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal talked with Margaret Warner on the NewsHour about the case.

“The Justices split … along ideological lines,” Coyle said. “In today’s decision, the Supreme Court deferred to the security concerns of jail officials, and ruled strip searches of individuals arrested for minor offenses do not violate their privacy rights under the Constitution.”

Watch the segment here or below.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • Washington Examiner’s Byron York on Newt Gingrich’s hopes for the convention — contributing to the platform.

  • Here’s Chris Cillizza’s list of the best Wisconsin political tweeters ahead of the primary.

  • The Fix also reports that Tagg Romney is not pleased with AMC’s “Mad Men” for including a jab at his grandfather in Sunday’s episode. According to the blog, George Romney, governor of Michigan in the show’s current season, is called a “clown” by one of the characters. “George Romney was as good a man I’ve ever known. Inspirational leader, worked for civil rights, promoted freedom. We need more like him,” Mitt Romney’s eldest son said on Twitter.

  • Here’s Ramesh Ponnuru’s take in the National Review on Tuesday’s primaries. He’ll be filling in for David Brooks on Friday’s NewsHour.

  • The Associated Press reports that Romney responded to a question about whether Mormon teachings say interracial marriages are wrong: “No. Next question.”

  • Santorum released a new ad on Wisconsin television comparing Romney to the president. Watch it here or below.

  • Mike Allen reports in the new Politico eBook that Texas Gov. Rick Perry was on painkillers during some of last year’s debates.

  • Sasha Issenberg’s latest “Victory Lab” story at Slate wonders if “the technology developed by Obama’s campaign make the president a political power broker for elections to come.”

  • Texas Rep. Ron Paul says he is “not sure” if he will support the eventual GOP nominee.

  • Romney did a Q-and-A with Jim Pethokoukis.

  • On Saturday afternoon, NBC Sports Network will air a new episode of “Charlie Moore: No Offense” that will include Romney doing water sports.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • The presidential primary isn’t the only hot contest on the ballot in Maryland. Roll Call’s Abby Livingston has you covered with this story on all the nasty barbs in the 6th Congressional District. Re-read her primer on the race here.

  • Chad Pergram warns of a very very busy fall for Congress.

  • What happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas for the General Services Administration leader, who resigned Monday.

  • The New York Times on former Sen. Bob Kerrey’s attempted comeback in the Cornhusker State.

  • Doug Heye joined Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office.

  • Up-and-coming Virginia Democrat Del. David Englin announced he won’t seek re-election to his legislative seat because of an extramarital affair.

  • Alexandra Jaffe of National Journal writes that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is continuing to work on his version of the DREAM Act.

  • NPR’s Linda Holmes on the trailer for Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom.”

  • Tuesday at noon, join Stone Phillips and Hari Sreenivasan for a live chat about Stone’s piece on youth football and hard hits.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • Vice President Joe Biden discusses college affordability at Maury High School in Norfolk, Va., at 10:15 a.m.

  • Mitt Romney holds an election day lunch at Cousin Subs in Wukesha, Wis., at 11:00 a.m. He will also hold a Wisconsin election night event at the Grain Exchange in Milwaukee.

  • Rick Santorum moves his campaign to Pennsylvania to hold an election night event at the Four Points Sheraton in Mars at 8 p.m.

  • Ron Paul will hold a town hall event at California State University in Chico at 10 p.m.

  • Newt Gingrich 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.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this entry incorrectly categorized Washington, D.C., as a state.