Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III said Thursday that Mitt Romney would be the Republicans' strongest nominee against President Obama, arguing that the former Massachusetts governor's private-sector experience would resonate with voters in swing states.
"I think that Romney would be our strongest candidate in the fall," Mr. Baker said at the International Republican Institute's annual dinner, where he was given the organization's Freedom Award.
Mr. Baker said he is bullish on Mr. Romney "because he's had private-sector business experience" and because he is most likely to appeal to voters in swing states.
"To win a general election, you've got to win the voters in the swing states," he said. "Those swing states are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida - and I think Mitt Romney would probably appeal to those independent voters more so than any of the other people running on our side."
Mr. Baker, 81, served as secretary of state in the George H.W. Bush administration, as secretary of the treasury in the Reagan administration, and as chief of staff in both administrations.
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