Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi participate in a news conference earlier this week. Rubio endorsed Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Wednesday.
Sure, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich spent their days vowing to soldier on to the conventions. But as Mitt Romney scooped up even more big endorsements, the conversation was dominated by who could be his choice for a running mate.
That’s exactly the sort of general election momentum Team Romney has been hoping to sustain.
The latest sign of the Republican establishment coalescing around his candidacy came Wednesday night when Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, whose name has been frequently mentioned as a potential vice presidential selection, endorsed Romney in an appearance on the Fox News Channel.
“In Mitt Romney, we have a candidate, an alternative, that in addition to being successful as a governor, running an important state in this country, has also been successful in the private sector and offers a very clear alternative to the direction this president is going to take our country,” Rubio told host Sean Hannity.
The freshman senator said Romney’s rivals should be “proud” of their efforts, but suggested it was now time for the party to unite behind one candidate.
“I just can’t buy into this idea that by their own admission, they are saying the only way they can win this race is by having a floor fight in Tampa in August. I think that’s a recipe to deliver four more years to Barack Obama,” Rubio said. “Our country cannot afford that. We have got to come together behind who I think has earned this nomination, and that’s Mitt Romney.”
While Romney would certainly rather have Rubio’s endorsement than the alternative — the fact is the nod from one of the party’s rising stars does very little to change the dynamic of the race at this stage. Romney still holds a significant delegate lead over his rivals and is the only Republican with a legitimate shot at winning the 1,144 needed to claim the nomination before the convention.
On Thursday, Romney will pick up yet another establishment nod — from former President George H.W. Bush — during a stop in Houston. The move follows the decision by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, one of the former president’s sons, to back Romney last week.
Despite the growing inevitability surrounding his march toward the Republican nomination, new polls continue to show trouble ahead for Romney when it comes to the general election.
A CNN/ORC International survey released Wednesday found President Obama leading Romney 54 to 43 percent in a potential general election contest, up from a five-point margin (51 to 46 percent) last month.
The president outperforms Romney among women (60 to 37 percent) and independents (55 to 40 percent), as well as in every geographic region of the country.
HEALTH CARE BONANZA
The NewsHour this week was the only organization to devote the top half of the program to thorough coverage and detailed analysis of the Supreme Court hearings on the health care reform law.
From audio of the proceedings and courtroom sketches (day three is here) to a detailed look at the people influencing the conversation outside the courtroom and an explainer on what would happen if the mandate goes away, Team NewsHour had you covered.
National Law Journal’s Marcia Coyle and Health Affairs’ Susan Dentzer, our dynamic duo on air each evening, on Wednesday night rounded out the coverage with Gwen Ifill to outline the day’s arguments.
Watch that segment here or below
Judy Woodruff talked with Reps. Peter Roskam, an Illinois Republican, and Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, about the political and practical implications of the court’s decision-making.
2012 LINE ITEMS
Gingrich backer and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson talked with the Jewish Journal about Santorum. “I know Rick [Santorum]. I like him. We’re friendly. But I got to tell you something, I don’t want him running my country,” Adelson said. On Romney: “The problem with Romney – he’s not the bold decision maker like Newt Gingrich is. … Every time I talk to him he says ‘Well, let me think about it.’ Everything I’ve said to Mitt, ‘let me look into it.'”
Ahead of the Tuesday primary, voters in Wisconsin are reminded of a crack Romney made about his dad laying off workers in that state decades before. Here’s Craig Gilbert’s take in the Journal Sentinel.
NBC News on Santorum’s bowling.
Politico writes that Gingrich is risking his legacy by staying in the race.
Stuart Rothenberg (@stupolitics) declares the GOP presidential primary done and done.
First Lady Michelle Obama will appear on an episode of the Biggest Loser.
The Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson writes up Ron Paul’s visit to the University of Maryland on Wednesday.
- Obama campaign manager Jim Messina went to Arkansas to open a new office.
Meet Subdued Santorum, a new species on the campaign trailnytimes.com/2012/03/29/us/…
— Jeremy W. Peters (@jwpetersNYT) March 29, 2012
More Adelson on Santorum, whom he calls “too social, and: “This man has no history whatsoever of creating anything or taking risks.”
— Jon Ralston (@RalstonFlash) March 29, 2012
— Aisha (@Eye_E_Sha) March 28, 2012
— CQ-Roll Call Photos (@CQRC_Photo) March 28, 2012
Ron Burgundy announcing Anchorman 2 on Conan – youtu.be/MrNA7RjU91I
— john r stanton (@bigjohnrc) March 29, 2012
OUTSIDE THE LINES
NewsHour Coordinating Producer Linda Scott talked with Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., after he was scolded for donning a hoodie in honor of Trayvon Martin on the House floor in a violation of rules about hats. Rush told Linda he still has a little Black Panther in him. Watch the video from the floor.
The Washington Post says things have simmered down for Rush Limbaugh.
Roll Call’s Joshua Miller has a front page story about candidates from political legacies.
Quinnipiac University released a pair of Senate battleground surveys Thurday. In Ohio, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown leads GOP challenger Josh Mandel by 10 points (46 to 36 percent). Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida has an 8-point lead (44 to 36 percent) on GOP Rep. Connie Mack.
Republicans think their position has been strengthened by redistricting.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is headed to Iowa for a GOP dinner.
Don Bivens ended his Democratic primary bid for the open Senate seat in Arizona and endorsed former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, Roll Call’s Abby Livingston reports.
Congress is set to approve spending $1.2 million on the inauguration in January — $3,000 less than in 2009.
Former White House videographer Arun Chaudhary was among the creators of a site pushing the Supreme Court to open itself up to the cameras. It allows you to have some fun with sketches from inside the courtroom.
The Atlantic made a graphic of the SCOTUS hearings.
- Voters in New Jersey want politicians to lay off the name-calling.
ON THE TRAIL
All events are listed in Eastern Time.
President Obama delivers remarks in the Rose Garden at 10:45 a.m. urging Congress to vote to end taxpayer subsidies for oil companies.
Vice President Biden attends campaign events in Milwaukee at 12:30 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. and in Chicago at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Mitt Romney picks up the endorsement of former President George H.W. Bush in Houston at 5:50 p.m.
Rick Santorum delivers remarks on foreign policy in Fairfield, Calif., at 7 p.m.
Ron Paul holds a town hall in Madison, Wis., at 8 p.m.
- Newt Gingrich holds a rally in Marquette, Wis., at 8:30 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.