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Romney Sweeps Three Primaries; Santorum Vows to Continue Fight

All three primaries — including Wisconsin — were called within an hour after polls closed Tuesday. Santorum vowed to continue campaigning into the primaries April 24 on the East Coast.

Although Rick Santorum vowed Tuesday that his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination would continue regardless of what happened at the polls, there’s no doubt that Mitt Romney delivered a bruising blow in three states.

The evening started with major media outlets calling the primary races in Maryland and Washington, D.C., less than an hour after polls closed in both locations. The story was much the same in Wisconsin, as the race was called just before 9 p.m.

Romney cruised to a sweep in the three primaries Tuesday, and increased his projected delegate total to 640, compared to Santorum’s 264, according to CNN.com. A total of 1,144 delegates are needed to win.

Romney remained in Wisconsin on Tuesday and held a victory party for an energized crowd at the Grain Exchange in Milwaukee. Santorum had already left the state and was in Pennsylvania preparing for the next round of East Coast primaries on April 24.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan introduced Romney, and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner were also on hand at the Milwaukee victory party.

“We have won a great victory tonight in our campaign to restore the promise of America,” Romney told the jubilant crowd. “You won't find Americans with bigger hearts than those here in our Heartland.”

Ryan and Romney have been appearing together throughout the week in Wisconsin. It’s led to some speculation that Ryan may be a popular choice to run on the ticket with Romney.

“We have a leader who will put our country back on the right track. Tonight Wisconsinites have spoken,” Ryan said. "We found out today (President Obama) is going to try to divide us instead of unite us...We don't need a campaigner in chief."

Ryan’s comments were met with cheers of “Mitt.” Romney will move on to gather delegates in friendly territory on the East Coast, including New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware.

Although Santorum wasn’t in the state Tuesday, about 20 supporters gathered at his state campaign headquarters in Brookfield to place some 70,000 calls and make a last push before the polls closed.

, where vowed to stay in the race despite losing three primaries Tuesday.

“If we are going to win this race we can’t have little differences between the Republican candidate and Obama. We need clear contrasting colors,” Santorum said in reference to Romney, who he has labeled an “Etch-A-Sketch” candidate.

At Santorum's Wisconsin campaign headquarters, state Sen. Glen Grothman was encouraged in the face of defeat.

“If somebody told me you could come within 10 percentage points and you are outspent five-to-one and standing up to Paul Ryan, Ron Johnson, Jim Sensenbrenner, (radio talk show hosts) Charlie Sykes and Jay Weber, I would have to told you I was crazy, but we had such a strong candidate we were that close,” Grothman said.

Grothman said he would support Romney if Romney becomes the GOP presidential candidate. However, he’s still pleased with the turnout the Santorum campaign received.

“It shows the Romney team that they have got a lot of work to do,” Grothman said.

What's On Voters' Minds

Romney supporter Trent Kohl of New Berlin said he originally supported Texas Gov. Rick Perry, but when he dropped out of the race, he shifted to Romney because he is "the most believable." 

He said Santorum's campaign tactics in the last couple weeks show he is "more interested in himself than the party."

With the primary coming down to a competitive battle late in the primary season, Kohl said he is excited that Wisconsin is finally a battleground state in determining the GOP nominee.

"To be here, in this moment here tonight, this could be the tipping point," he said. "This is a great thing for Wisconsin."

High school volunteers, many of them homeschooled students, were working furiously to reach voters in the last hours before the polls closed at Santorum’s headquarters.

While volunteers stood around the TV, eating pizza and waiting for results to come in, they ended up walking out of the building with Santorum campaign signs in hand, clearly saddened that Santorum had lost Wisconsin.

Among those volunteers was Rachel Doak, a 17-year-old from West Bend who made 401 phone calls on Tuesday. Some of the responses were encouraging, she said, but others were mean. The homeschooled student supported Santorum because of his pro-life and pro-family values

"He would make a great president," Doak said.

Is This The End? Should It Be?

Despite his three losses, Santorum emphasized the future as he addressed the crowd in Cranberry, PA.

Repeatedly telling supporters that they “know him,” the former senator, who grew up in nearby Butler, vowed to continue his campaign — and to win Pennsylvania on April 24.

"This isn’t halftime, no marching bands, we’re hitting the field. The clock starts tonight,” Santorum said. “We’ve got three weeks to get out here in Pennsylvania and win this state. And after winning this state, the field looks a little different in May.”

would be the final blow for Santorum, even though he is hoping for a boost in his home state.

However, on Saturday, that having a competitive GOP primary race was productive early on, but continuing it now is counterproductive to the end goal of defeating President Barack Obama in November.

“I think this primary has been healthy. But I think it comes to a point where this primary can become counterproductive,” he said. “The longer this continues the less focused we are on taking on Obama.”

Some voters agreed and hoped the GOP campaign would end soon.

“I’m really hoping it will end after Wisconsin,” said Karen Ackers of Menomonee Falls. “If only for the ads and calls to stop running.”

Patch editors Sarah Millard, Jeff Rumage, Sarah Worthman and Viviana Buzo, from Milwaukee; and Jessica Sinichak, from Cranberry, PA, contributed to this story.

James R Hoffa April 05, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Isn't that the truth though? Anderson was fun and light-hearted, much like Roddenberry. I suppose that's why the networks are no longer interested in such visions of the future, sadly enough. I miss those old shows. Hell, even the '80's revamp of 'The Twilight Zone' was pretty good, which is a stark contrast to UPN's much darker 2002 revamp that not even Forest Whitaker could salvage!
James R Hoffa April 05, 2012 at 02:36 AM
@Bren - The Tea Party isn't making it easy on the GOP establishment, that's for sure. But rightfully so. The last thing the GOP needs is another non-fiscal conservative candidate. But I fear that's exactly what they might end up with when the nomination is secured. I liked Huntsman too, but it just wasn't meant to be. As for the future direction of the parties, I think that the Dems have a far harder time finding a successor to Obama. Elizabeth Warren seems to be the only one generating any kind of noise recently. And that scares the hell out of Hoffa! Christie, Ryan, Walker (when he beats the recall), Daniels, Palin, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, etc - there are plenty of super stars within the GOP ranks to last quite a while
Johnny Blade April 05, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Ron PAul gets 5200 people at a Rally in madison ... freedom lives and the MSM is silent .. oH look DR Paul brings in another 6000 in chico CA yesterday ... Freedom and liberty the brushfire has started and is burning bright
James R Hoffa April 05, 2012 at 03:34 AM
@Johnny - I like Ron Paul as much as the next guy, and will always support him. But I'm also a realist, and there's no way that he can secure the GOP nomination this time around. I do hope he remains a strong voice and influencing factor in politics though!
Kay April 05, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Ron Paul should channel some of his energy through his son..Unfortunately a lot of Americans vote on looks instead of qualifications these days..Thank Hollywood for that. I've never been a fan for Palin as President, but I think she plays an important role with what she is good at. Ron's idea's shouldn't get lost or completely pushed under the rug..Just re-channeled.

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