Advertisement

Romney Focuses on Obama as Santorum Goes Bowling

By , Bloomberg - April 3, 2012

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized Obama's handling of the economy as he appealed for votes yesterday in Wisconsin.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized Obama's handling of the economy as he appealed for votes yesterday in Wisconsin. Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

April 2 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama's 2013 budget plan may borrow less money than that of his Republican rivals, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Megan Hughes reports on Bloomberg Television's "Bottom Line." Bloomberg's Mark Crumpton also speaks. (Source: Bloomberg)

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, traveling through the state's northern section, stopped at bowling allies, cheese stores and banquet halls to try to appeal to the rural voters and evangelical Christians whose backing has made him Romney's chief opponent.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, traveling through the state's northern section, stopped at bowling allies, cheese stores and banquet halls to try to appeal to the rural voters and evangelical Christians whose backing has made him Romney's chief opponent. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The leading rivals for the Republican presidential nomination campaigned in the final hours before Wisconsin's primary with two different goals: Mitt Romney focused on President Barack Obama and November's general election while Rick Santorum tried to stay viable.

Romney yesterday made no mention of Santorum as he expressed increasing confidence that he will claim his party's nomination.

Santorum, traveling through the state's northern section, stopped at bowling alleys, cheese stores and banquet halls to try to appeal to the rural voters and evangelical Christians whose backing has made him Romney's chief opponent.

"I'm asking small-town America, rural America, rural Wisconsin to come out and speak loudly tomorrow," Santorum said in Oshkosh. "Take the day off tomorrow. It's on me. And spend some time getting folks to the polls."

Santorum, 53, plans to spend today fundraising in Austin, Texas, before flying to his home state of Pennsylvania for an election-night rally, campaign manager Mike Biundo said.

Romney, 65, wants to focus more attention on Obama while seeking to end his party's race. Favored to win today's other primaries in Maryland and Washington, D.C., he is counting on a victory in Wisconsin to intensify the pressure on Santorum to ends his candidacy.

Also still in the race are U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Romney criticized Obama's handling of the economy as he appealed for votes yesterday in Wisconsin, a state that has been closely contested in recent presidential elections.

"His economic strategy was a bust," he said at a Milwaukee stop. "One of the reasons we're going to take over the White House is because he does not know how to make this economy work."

Romney argued Obama wants more government, while he wants less.

"In his ideal world, spending more and more money and building a bigger and bigger government is the object," he said. "In my ideal world, government spends less and government is smaller. It's a very different vision for America."

Lis Smith, a campaign spokeswoman for Obama, responded with an e-mail criticizing Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts.

"We've seen what happens when Mitt Romney is in charge and it's greatly at odds with his message today of more jobs, less debt and smaller government," Smith said. "During his four years as governor, Massachusetts had the fourth-worst job creation rate of any state in the nation; debt increased by 16 percent; government jobs grew six times as fast as private sector jobs, and taxes increased by $750 million each year."

Obama holds a 51 percent to 42 percent lead over Romney in a dozen states expected to be the closest in the November general election, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll published yesterday. The survey found Romney has lost support among women during the primaries, giving Obama an 18-percentage-point advantage among female voters combined in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

During a stop in a suburb of Green Bay, Romney was asked by an audience member whether he views interracial marriages as a sin because he's a Mormon.

Until 1978, the Mormon Church had a policy against ordaining blacks for the priesthood.

Later in Milwaukee, he said there's a "war on religion," when asked by an audience member about the Obama administration's requirement that employers offering health care, including religious institutions, must cover contraception.

Overshadowing the presidential race in Wisconsin has been a recall campaign involving Republican Governor Scott Walker, a fight that has energized activists in both major parties.

"The people of Wisconsin have been involved in a lot of political fights over the past year," Santorum said in Oshkosh. "I can understand how you would get a little weary of that. I understand that you're involved in this state race, but I think you also understand how important this race is for president."

In an effort to preempt a poor showing in the state, Santorum continued stressing the insurgent, underdog nature of his candidacy.

"I wasn't supposed to be in Wisconsin in April campaigning for president because, well, this race was a foregone conclusion before it started. Governor Romney was going to be the nominee," he said.

Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, dismissed Romney's organizational and financial advantages.

"The longer we're in this, and I would argue even if it ends up in a convention, that's a positive thing for the Republican Party," he told reporters yesterday in Appleton.

A contested convention in Tampa, Florida, in August would be an "energizing thing" for Republicans, Santorum said. Whoever wins the nomination would get the party's backing and have little difficulty raising money or expanding the campaign staff, he said.

Read Full Article »

Latest On Twitter

Follow Real Clear Politics

Real Clear Politics Video

More RCP Video Highlights »