Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney inched closer to his party's nomination on Tuesday with a sweep of the GOP primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia, and found himself in his first direct engagement with President Obama.
Romney emerged from the evening with substantial gains in delegates and a growing perception that he was winning over previously reluctant elements of the party, or if nothing else, just plain outlasting his more conservative competition.
Either way, this was in some respects the start of the general election.
Obama for the first time singled Romney out by name, during an address dedicated to a budget championed by Romney’s marquee endorser in Wisconsin, Rep. Paul Ryan.
The President called Ryan's plan “social Darwinism” and said of Romney, “He said that he’s ‘very supportive’ of this new budget, and he even called it ‘marvelous,’ which is a word you don’t often hear when it comes to describing a budget."
"It’s a word you don’t hear generally.”
Referring obliquely to perceptions of his potential opponent’s elite pedigree, Obama sought to cast himself as more in touch with the public.Taking the stage in downtown Milwaukee, Romney took his turn to strike general election themes. “President Obama thinks he’s doing a good job - I’m not kidding,” Romney said, speaking with a huge American flag behind him.
“It’s enough to make you think that years of flying around on Air Force One, surrounded by an adoring staff of true believers telling you that you’re great and you’re doing a great job, it’s enough to make you think that you might be a little out of touch.”
Here's a look at the election results from Tuesday:
Wisconsin Republican Primary Results
- Mitt Romney 42.5%
- Rick Santorum 37.6%
- Ron Paul 11.7%
- Newt Gingrich 6.1%
Maryland Republican Primary Results
- Mitt Romney 49.1%
- Rick Santorum 28.9%
- Newt Gingrich 10.9%
- Ron Paul 9.5%
D.C. Republican Primary Results
- Mitt Romney 70.2%
- Ron Paul 12.0%
- Newt Gingrich 10.7%