GOP Candidates Insist They Are Still In It To Win It
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
So, gas prices is just one of the big issues as Mitt Romney and the other candidates face another primary day tomorrow with contests in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and the big one, Wisconsin.
And joining us to talk about this and more in politics as she does most Mondays is Cokie Roberts. Good morning, Cokie.
COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, David.
GREENE: You know, I feel like I have asked you this question before.
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GREENE: But is this week going to be Rick Santorum's last band? Is this race in Wisconsin really a big one for him?
ROBERTS: Yes, it is. And it's likely to mean that his candidacy is effectively over. But he's not saying that. Yesterday morning he did say: Well, Pennsylvania, his home state later this month, was do or die for him. And then he even walked that back later in the day. And he's campaigning like crazy in Wisconsin, saying it's not over the way the Kansas game Saturday night was not over.
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ROBERTS: And if it's over, why is Romney spending $4 million in Wisconsin, he asked.
GREENE: Interesting. Well, this is a state that is also up for grabs in November, which raises the question, I guess, if - you know, are there things we're seeing from Romney in his campaign style and what he's doing that might affect voter attitudes when we get to the fall, if he is indeed the candidate.
ROBERTS: Well, you know, that's a good question. And of course the fact that Wisconsin is up for grabs in November is in itself interesting. It was a reliably blue state. It has not gone for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984. But there was a big Republican sweep in 2010, with a governor who now faces a recall election, state legislature, and a Republican senator.
So, there's a real sense that this is an important state for Romney in the fall, or whoever the Republican nominee is, because look where he's lost before, David. The states that Romney has lost so far - Alabama, Georgia, et cetera - are states that are going to go Republican in the fall. And it doesn't matter how much they go Republican by.
This is where the Electoral College is really helpful to Romney, because the fact that he hasn't gotten the base of the very conservative voters riled up and for him doesn't really matter. Georgia just needs to go for him by one vote and he wins the state. Wisconsin's another story. He really does need to woo the voters there, including independent voters. And his disapproval ratings among independents is up.
There's a poll out today showing in the swing states that Romney is down by 11 under Obama. Last month, the same poll had him up by two. So this campaign is not helping him, and that's why the Republican office-holders are pushing so hard to have it be wrapped up.
I mean, he's had nods now from Jim DeMint, yesterday Mitch McConnell was basically saying it's time for this to be over. He's - so, you know, the establishment, such as it is, is gathering behind him with endorsements from George Bush I and from Marco Rubio in Florida. And in Wisconsin, where he's campaigning, the senator, the new Republican Senator Ron Johnson and the conservative hero Paul Ryan are out campaigning for him.
GREENE: Paul Ryan, of course, the House budget chair.
GREENE: And that's a name we've been hearing, because President Obama has been out campaigning against the Paul Ryan budget and tying it to the Republican candidates. We see a DNC ad that puts Ryan and Romney together. I mean, is that Democratic effort going to work?
ROBERTS: They're counting on it. And Vice President Biden was out yesterday with a message that Republicans are out of touch, that they have a big fairness problem. It's probably the reason that Obama is up by 18 points among women in that Gallup poll in the swing states. The message of fairness appeals very much there. But Ryan says it's a debate he's ready to have, and it is the debate of this campaign, the fundamental role of government.
GREENE: All right, Cokie. It is always good to be with you. That is political commentator Cokie Roberts who joins us most Mondays here on MORNING EDITION.
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