Monday, March 19, 2012

Mitt Romney Builds Momentum With Puerto Rico Primary Win

Romney's methodically plodding his way to the nomination. Now he's got a win in Puerto Rico.

At New York Times, "Romney Prevails Easily in Puerto Rico G.O.P. Primary," and Los Angeles Times, "Romney, after Puerto Rico victory, says he can lure Latino voters."

And see Jonathan Tobin at Commentary, "Mitt’s Island Landslide Sets Up Big Week":

Rick Santorum invested a fair amount of precious, time and resources into campaigning for Sunday’s Puerto Rico Republican presidential primary. But it turned out to be a poor use of scarce resources for the GOP challenger at a time when he could least afford it. Mitt Romney cruised to a landslide victory in the Commonwealth. Romney won all 20 delegates up for grabs as residents of the island turned out in relatively strong numbers. Despite promoting himself as the senator from Puerto Rico, whatever hopes the Pennsylvanian might have had in Puerto Rico were probably sunk when he asserted that the island must adopt English as its official language if it wants statehood. With about 40 percent of the vote counted, Santorum was getting less than 10 percent, the sort of result he might have gotten without bothering to show up there last week as he did.

Romney can now brag that he has the ability to generate support for Hispanic voters even though none of this who turned out on Sunday will have the ability to vote for him in November. But no matter how you spin the result, the delegates he won gets him a bit closer to the nomination. Just as important, the win gives him an extra touch of momentum heading into the pivotal Illinois primary on Tuesday.
That's all great, no doubt. See Fox News, "Romney wins in Puerto Rico while focused on Illinois." And at Chicago Sun-Times, "Romney backers here looking ahead with an eye on the rear-view mirror":
If Mitt Romney and his supporters weren’t worried about Tuesday’s GOP presidential primary election in Illinois, they would not be spending so much time and money here.

Romney even cut short a campaign trip to Puerto Rico after an appearance Saturday morning. The U.S. territory holds its primary Sunday, and he had planned to spend the weekend there.

Most of Illinois’ Republican establishment signed on to Romney’s campaign back when they assumed he’d have the nomination all wrapped up by now.

Even if more conservative options such as Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich were still in the mix at this point, Illinois — with its history of electing moderate Republican governors and senators — was supposed to be a firewall against conservative uprisings.
RealClearPolitics has Romney holding a solid lead in Illinois, so he should be fine. But there's still a lot of talk about a prolonged campaign (and perhaps even a brokered convention), so no doubt Romney's gonna be sweating under the collar for some time.

More on this later...