Wisconsin vote may seal Romney's bid
02 April 2012, 08:17
Washington - A Mitt Romney victory in the Wisconsin Republican
primary on Tuesday could all but end the party battle to pick a
challenger to President Barack Obama in November.
Massachusetts governor, who as CEO of a private equity firm amassed a
fortune worth an estimated quarter of a billion dollars, is predicting
success in the upper Midwestern state as he shifts his campaign attacks
almost solely to Obama and away from fellow Republicans who had turned
the nominating race into an extended and politically messy battle.
who was vulnerable in his bid for a second White House term because of
the ravages left behind by the Great Recession and near national
financial meltdown just before he took office, has seen his prospects
improve somewhat as a result of the Republican nomination fight and
signs the economy is in a sustained recovery.
Even as Romney
looked ever more likely to win the nomination, chief rival Rick Santorum
said he would not give up just because the Republican party
establishment believed voters "need Mitt Romney shoved down their
On Sunday morning, Santorum told NBC's Meet the Press that
Romney is the wrong candidate to challenge Obama because of Romney's
support for a health care plan in Massachusetts that was the basis for
Obama's health care overhaul that Republicans vow to overturn.
said he was now counting on a victory April 24 in the primary in
Pennsylvania, the state he once represented as both a member of the
House of Representatives and a Senator.
A day earlier, Romney was predicting victory in Wisconsin.
looking like we're going to win this thing on Tuesday," Romney told
supporters, suggesting he could also claim wins in Maryland and the
District of Columbia that day. "If I can get that boost also from
Wisconsin I think we'll be on a path that'll get me the nomination well
before the convention."
The Wisconsin vote will be Santorum's
last chance to prove his strength in the US heartland, where he's said
he can challenge Obama but where Romney has beaten him consistently.
Romney pushed right
effect of the Republican nomination fight has been to push the
once-moderate Romney far to the right of the political spectrum. He
showed that again in remarks to more than 1 000 evangelical
conservatives at a Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting in the heart of
heavily Republican Waukesha County. The county is home to Wisconsin's
largest evangelical mega-churches.
"President Obama believes in a
government-centred society. He believes government guiding our lives
will do a better job in doing so than individuals," Romney said. "We
were endowed by our creator with our rights. Not the king, not the
state, but our creator," Romney told the packed hotel ballroom who would
later hear Santorum.
Romney promised to restore religious
freedom he and other Republicans have accused Obama of undermining, and
"to protect the sanctity of life", a reference to an issue that has
haunted him since his conversion from supporting abortion rights as
governor of Massachusetts.
Romney received a healthy if not
thunderous ovation from the group. However, Santorum, who has counted on
like-minded activists in winning across the Bible Belt, did not do much
better in appearing before the group. He described Romney's enactment
of sweeping health care legislation as governor as disqualifying him
from challenging Obama.
"Don't listen to the pundits...They're
telling you to give up on your principles in order to win," Santorum
said. "Stand up for what you know is right for America. Stand up and
vote your conscience."
With about half of the Republican
nominating contests complete, Romney has won 54% of the delegates at
stake, putting him on track to reach the threshold 1 144 national
convention delegates in June.
Santorum has won 27% of the delegates at stake.
former Pennsylvania senator, who has described Romney as too moderate
on key issues to effectively confront Obama, would need to win 74% of
the remaining delegates. Republican rival Newt Gingrich, the former
speaker of the House of Representatives, would need 85%.