Romney Hopes For An Ohio Win To Rally Support

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's had a final full day of campaigning in Ohio on Monday ahead of Super Tuesday. Romney is hoping that a win in Ohio will cause other members of the Republican establishment to coalesce around his candidacy.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. It is closing-argument time on the eve of Super Tuesday. Ten states are voting, and hundreds of Republican delegates are on the line.

BLOCK: One of the most heated battles is in Ohio. A week ago, Rick Santorum had a substantial lead in the polls there. Now, he's in a statistical dead heat with Mitt Romney. Both of them are campaigning today in Ohio.

In a moment, we'll hear Santorum's closing arguments. First, to NPR's Tamara Keith, who's traveling with the Romney campaign.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Mitt Romney's pitch is straightforward - the economy is struggling, and he's the right guy to help.

MITT ROMNEY: That's what I know. That's what I've done. The experience I bring to this campaign is experience about the jobs that Americans need.

(SOUNDBITE OF FACTORY NOISES)

KEITH: Gregory Industries in Canton, where he made his first stop of the day, transforms huge roles of steel into highway guardrails.

(SOUNDBITE OF FACTORY NOISES)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: So what we're going to see now is our ...

ROMNEY: All right.

KEITH: Romney told the audience of supporters and company employees that the steel manufacturer has succeeded because it kept its focus on what it knows. Romney is also making a point of focusing on what he knows.

(SOUNDBITE OF STUMP SPEECH)

ROMNEY: And I look at this campaign right now, and I see a lot of folks all talking about lots of things. But what we need to talk about, to defeat Barack Obama, is getting good jobs and scaling back the size of government. And that's what I do.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

KEITH: Romney's strategist, Eric Fehrnstrom, said - on the factory floor - this approach is working for the campaign, a campaign which has scheduled most of its events in areas of Ohio that have been hard-hit economically.

ERIC FEHRNSTROM: And I think one of the reasons that Mitt Romney has been surging this past week is because he's boots on the ground in Ohio, conducting events, spreading his pro-jobs message.

KEITH: The reality is, a Romney win in Ohio is far from certain, despite all the time he's spent campaigning here - four out of the last six days. Fehrnstrom is confident, but he's not predicting victory.

FEHRNSTROM: No state is a must-win state. I can't predict how many states he'll win, but he will win a majority of delegates. That's how we've planned his time, and so we're looking forward to a good day.

KEITH: That's because all 10 states voting tomorrow are awarding their delegates proportionally - which means even without winning, Romney can scoop up delegates. Perhaps not coincidentally, today he's campaigning in areas where his chief rival, Rick Santorum, failed to qualify for the ballot, and won't get delegates.

Tamara Keith, NPR News, traveling with the Romney campaign on the road between Youngstown and Zanesville.

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