Last month was a mixed bag for Mitt Romney, what with all those Southern primaries (and, subsequently, all those losses to Rick Santorum). But April's electoral landscape looks much better for Romney, starting with the trio of contests that he won on Tuesday night in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Wisconsin. The victories push Romney past the halfway mark of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination — and, according to many analysts, effectively wrap up the whole primary race.
At least on the surface, Santorum isn't buying into the view that his campaign is all but over, remaining determined to keep Romney from reaching 1,144 delegates before the Republican National Convention in August. "We're at halftime," he enthusiastically told supporters at a Pittsburgh rally on Tuesday night. "Half of the delegates in this process have been selected. Who's ready to charge out of the locker room in Pennsylvania for a strong second half?"
Santorum's confidence, however, isn't stopping the vultures from circling around his campaign with a desire to finally shift to general-election mode. As for Romney, he's already there.
After President Obama mentioned him by name in a speech on Tuesday afternoon at the American Society of Newspaper Editors convention, knocking him for his support of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget (and its deep cuts to programs for low-income Americans while easing taxes for the wealthy), Romney seemed especially spirited about going head-to-head and swinging back.
"The president has pledged to transform America, and he's spent the last four years laying the foundation for a new government-centered society," Romney said in his Tuesday victory speech. "I will spend the next four years rebuilding the foundation of an opportunity society led by free people and free enterprises."
Romney continued to ignore his Republican primary contenders, instead drawing more contrasts between the president and himself. "The ironic tragedy is that the community organizer who wanted to help those that were hurt by a plant closing became the president on whose watch more jobs have been lost than any time since the Great Depression," he said. "Because when you attack business and vilify success, you're going to have less business and less success."
Cynthia Gordy is The Root's Washington reporter.