Romney Sweeps Maryland, D.C., Wisconsin Primaries

Mitt Romney has picked up another three victories in the Republican presidential race. Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C. all went solidly for him. That puts Romney almost out of his competitors' reach in this long-running contest.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.

Let's assess where the presidential race now stands. Mitt Romney made it through last night with three wins and no surprises, in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

MONTAGNE: Rick Santorum won nowhere but isn't giving up. In a moment, we'll ask NPR political correspondent Mara Liasson how much longer this race can go on.

INSKEEP: We'll start with NPR's Ari Shapiro, who's following the Romney campaign.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: The Grain Exchange in downtown Milwaukee is an opulent historic event space. Soaring arches, muraled ceilings, and on this night a giant Believe in America banner hanging above an American flag.

MITT ROMNEY: We've won a great victory tonight in our campaign to restore the promise of America.

SHAPIRO: Romney's victory speech was a 10 minute invective against President Obama. He attacked the incumbent president on job creation, poverty rates and home foreclosures.

ROMNEY: And when you drive home tonight and you stop by the gas station, just take a look at the prices and then ask yourself: four more years of that?

(SOUNDBITE OF BOOING)

ROMNEY: I agree.

SHAPIRO: This primary season has brought a series of critical tests for anyone hoping to derail Romney's path to the nomination. And each state that Romney took narrowed the window for his rivals just a little more.

Now Romney's trifecta has Kathy Thomas thinking it's time for Rick Santorum and the others to call it quits.

KATHY THOMAS: I think that he would step out at this point and get behind Mitt Romney. I do - I hope they do, just to make it easier. They have to stop beating each other up. It's driving me crazy.

SHAPIRO: Why is it driving you crazy? What's frustrating about it?

THOMAS: Well, because I just think it makes Republicans look bad. And I think some of the negativity isn't good.

SHAPIRO: Romney is making the same point. Here's how he put it on Fox News yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOX NEWS BROADCAST)

ROMNEY: The right thing for us, I think, is to get a nominee as soon as we can and be able to focus on Barack Obama.

SHAPIRO: Whether Santorum and the other Republicans oblige him or not, Romney is already looking to the fall. He mentioned Election Day, November 6, twice in his Wisconsin victory speech. Today he'll address a convention of news editors in Washington D.C. It's the same gathering where President Obama attacked Romney by name yesterday. Romney is expected to return the courtesy today.

Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Milwaukee.

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