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Romney rolls

"Romney rolls" Continued...

These lawmakers may be stepping forward now over concerns that a protracted GOP fight only strengthens Obama. A recent CNN/Opinion Research poll has Obama ahead of Romney by 11 points nationally, 54 percent to 43 percent.

Romney's endorsers also are encouraged by his victories in industrial states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois. Those states will be important battleground states in November.

Santorum on Tuesday night tried to dismiss the endorsements: "Time and time again the Republican establishment and aristocracy have shoved down the throats of the Republican Party and people across this country moderate Republicans."

But many of Romney's new backers are not part of the party's old guard: Sens. Johnson, Rubio, and Lee are all freshmen lawmakers who have strong Tea Party backing. Conservative leader Sen. Jim DeMint, while not officially endorsing Romney, also has been publicly praising him.

The primary fight's center stage now shifts to the April 24 showdown on Santorum's home turf in Pennsylvania. A Santorum win there would likely allow him to push the race until June, even though Romney's delegate lead will be hard to catch. Meanwhile, a win for Romney in Pennsylvania would likely allow him to start marshaling resources solely for this fall's showdown.

Listen to a report on Mitt Romney's primary victories on WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It.

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee is WORLD's Washington Bureau chief. As a reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, he was embedded with a National Guard unit in Iraq. He also once worked in the press office of Sen. Lamar Alexander.

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