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Ann Romney, the wife of likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and mother of five sons, is fighting a criticism that she “never worked a day in her life.”

“I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys,” she wrote on Twitter, prompted by a Democratic strategist’s challenge of her knowledge about the economy.

“Believe me,” Ann Romney wrote. “It was hard work.”

Hillary Rosen, a Democratic strategist, started the exchange during an interview on CNN yesterday in which she said of GOP front-running candidate Romney:

“Guess what, his wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never dealt with the economic issues that a majority of women in U.S. are facing.”

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign swiftly distanced itself from Rosen, but the incident underscores issues critical to both sides in the campaign.

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It's begun.

With Mitt Romney's three-primary sweep this week, he effectively made his clinching the Republican presidential nomination a matter of when, not if.

Not surprisingly, President Obama has released a new TV ad this week, in response to criticism he's incurred from oil companies - and Mitt Romney.

The President argues that he has actually boosted domestic oil production, and is only a target because he sought to end tax breaks for oil corporations.

Tax breaks that would ease the burden on average Americans - by his calculus, at least. Obama's ad not-so-subtly links big oil to, you guessed it, Mitt. Watch:

If the election were today, who would you vote for?

 

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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.

Romney Ohio Pic

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.

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was endorsed by former President George H.W. Bush this week, meeting with the former Commander-in-Chief.

The nation's 41st president said that Romney is a good man who would make a "great president." And he says it's time for Republicans to unite behind Romney.

The pair, joined by former first lady Barbara Bush, briefly faced reporters Thursday night in Bush Sr.'s Houston office to make the endorsement official.

The 87-year-old Bush had informally endorsed the GOP frontrunner on multiple occasions in recent months, but hadn't appeared on his behalf until now.

Bush and Mitt

One of Bush's sons, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, endorsed Romney last week. Another son, former President George W. Bush, has stayed out of the GOP race.

It's unclear the degree to which his input would be welcomed.

"I haven't met with President George W. Bush. We speak from time to time," Romney replied when asked if he had sought the younger Bush's endorsement.

George W. Bush, who lives in Dallas and has kept a very low profile since leaving office, did not attend any of Romney's six Texas fundraisers this month.

The Bush legacy of gaping budget deficits, two wars and low approval ratings has merited no more than a fleeting reference from Romney and his rivals.

W.'s virtual absence from the presidential contest seemed to surprise even his father as reporters visited H.W.'s office to watch him endorse Romney.

"Has he endorsed you?" George H.W. Bush quietly asked Romney as reporters started to leave the room. "Uh, no, no," Romney replied.

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Rick Santorum posted another convincing win in yesterday's Louisiana's GOP primary, but still faces doubts over whether he can broaden his appeal to win the race.

The Republican presidential candidate said the race was far from over, recalling the naysayers who said Ronald Reagan was too conservative to win the nomination.

But the road ahead is difficult for Santorum, who's slogging it out a game of numbers to clinch the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the party's nomination.

Rick Santorum Pic

Santorum will win at least eight of the 20 delegates up for grabs, according to CNN. Going into Louisiana, Mitt Romney had 563 delegates to Santorum's 251.

At this point, it is very unlikely that Santorum, Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul can overtake Romney, with their only chance being to keep him from hitting 1,144.

If that were to occur, the nominee could be decided at an open convention when party officials convene this summer, but it remains a long shot at best now.

The candidates get a few days of breathing space before the next round of primaries on April 3 when Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia vote.

Louisiana Republican primary results:

  1. Rick Santorum 91,305 (49%)
  2. Mitt Romney 49,749 (27%)
  3. Newt Gingrich 29,655 (16%)
  4. Ron Paul 11,460 (6%)

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Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was loving life as he seized upon Mitt Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom likening Romney to an Etch-A-Sketch, busting out the popular toy as a prop to lambaste the GOP frontrunner during a speech.

Gingrich, along with many conservatives, could not help but roll their eyes at the remark, given Romney's long-held reputation as a middle-of-the-road technocratic flip-flopper lacking core beliefs or any sort of political consistency.

Still, Newt's personal disdain for Mitt clearly played into this display:

"How many of you have ever had an Etch-a-Sketch? My children had Etch A Sketches," Newt told a crowd in Louisiana. "They were great for car rides. But you'll notice that their pictures aren't permanent, their pictures aren't locked down."

"You can redo it any time you want. That's the problem. If you're somebody who invents RomneyCare and at the signing ceremony say that your closest collaborator was Teddy Kennedy, it's really hard to explain to us that you're really conservative."

"So here's Gov. Romney's staff, they don't even have the decency to wait until they get the nomination to explain to us how they'll sell us out, and I think having an Etch A Sketch as your campaign model, raises every doubt about where we're going."

And so it went. Rick Santorum, too, stopped at Toys R Us and bought an Etch A Sketch for campaign events, Watch him incorporate it into a speech below:

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Note to Mitt Romney advisers: When your candidate already has a reputation as a middle-of-the-road, flip-flopping technocrat with zero core beliefs, likening him to an Etch-A-Sketch is probably ill-advised, no matter the context.

Eric Fehrnstrom learned this the hard way Wednesday.

CNN asked whether his candidate, who's gone out of his way to appeal to conservatives this winter, would later tack more to the political center against President Obama.

"I think you hit a reset button for a fall campaign," Fehrnstrom said. "Everything changes. It's like an Etch A Sketch. You can shake it up and we start all over again."

Willard Mitt Romney

In his slight defense, Fehrnstrom was likely referring to media coverage, campaign themes and issues in the landscape of Romney and Obama going head to head.

Still, the Etch-A-Sketch has now become a new nickname for the Republican presidential candidate himself, who's long been accused of being its political equivalent.

Many analysts shook their heads, but others weren't so amused.

The remark drew a stinging response from the head of the nation's largest reproductive rights group, who said women voters will not accept flip-flops on issues.

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Mitt Romney rolled to victory in the Illinois Republican primary Tuesday, regaining some momentum in a race in which he has been unable to put away his opponents.

The presidential hopeful made the case that he has the best chance of beating President Obama as he sought to overcome doubts from more conservative voters.

After narrow margins of victory over Rick Santorum in battleground states like Ohio and Michigan and a string of losses in the South, Romney cruised in Illinois.

Mitt in IL

He was poised to collect three times as many delegates as Santorum, which aides hoped would increase his lead enough to tamp down talk of a contested convention.

Romney is looking to build an unassailable advantage in the race for the GOP nomination and look ahead to a bruising fall campaign against President Obama.

Yet unless his Republican rivals decide to step aside, that won't happen.

While he has a sizable lead in delegates, Romney has only about half the 1,144 needed to win and will not be able to move beyond the primary for at least two months.

Things are looking up for the frontrunner though. The Illinois electorate is reflective of relatively moderate states that will vote across the Northeast in April.

Illinois Republican Primary Results

  1. Mitt Romney 428,434 (46.7%)
  2. Rick Santorum 321,079 (35.0%)   
  3. Ron Paul 85,464 (9.3%)       
  4. Newt Gingrich 72,942 (8.0%) 

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Mitt Romney scored a win in Puerto Rico's Republican primary this weekend, pocketing all of the territory's 20 GOP delegates (because he finished with more than 50 percent of the vote) in the bruising race for the GOP presidential nomination.

With about 83 percent of total ballots accounted for early Monday in Puerto Rico, the Republican presidential candidate had garnered more than 98,000 votes.

That's 83 percent of the total, with Rick Santorum a distant second at 8 percent.

Mitt Romney Picture

The other two candidates, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, each won approximately 2 percent of the votes cast, according to CNN's Puerto Rico results.

Even as the vote was being counted in Puerto Rico, Romney, Santorum and the others were already back on the mainland vying for delegates.

Illinois holds its primary on Tuesday and Louisiana on Saturday.

CNN's latest delegate estimates show Romney with 518 delegates to Santorum's 239. Gingrich has 139 delegates, and libertarian champion Paul has 69.

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Rick Santorum scored another two wins in the race for the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday night, indicating a potentially protracted race ahead.

The former U.S. Senator won the Alabama and Mississippi primaries, overcoming the financial advantages of Mitt Romney and Southern allegiances to Newt Gingrich.

Santorum strengthened his candidacy as the GOP campaign rolls into a state-by-state delegates battle in the weeks, and very possibly months, ahead.

An aggressive push by Romney to try and capitalize on the still-divided conservative electorate failed to take hold, and he finished third in both states.

Santorum Wins Again

“We did it again,” Santorum said, addressing jubilant supporters in Louisiana, which votes next week. “The time is now for conservatives to pull together.”

The outcome of the Alabama and Mississippi primaries bolstered Santorum’s argument that he should emerge as the final GOP competitor to Romney.

But Gingrich, who finished a close second in both states, noted that he earned about as many delegates as his rivals, and pledged to continue on.

“The elite media’s efforts to convince the nation that Mitt Romney is inevitable just collapsed,” Gingrich said, addressing a subdued crowd here in Birmingham.

“If you’re the front-runner and you come in third, you’re not much of a front-runner.”

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Mitt Romney Biography

Mitt Romney Picture Mitt Romney wants to be elected President in 2012. The former Governor of Massachuetts is challenging Barack Obama for that lofty... More »
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Willard Mitt Romney
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