Asked about criticism that he’s been too accommodating to political opponents, the veteran Indiana senator said, “I’ve tried to enlarge the party.”
Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, has no serious challengers left in Tuesday’s Indiana, West Virginia and North Carolina primaries. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum dropped out in April and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich left the race last week. Texas Rep. Ron Paul is still contesting the nomination, but he lags far behind in the delegate count.
Romney is 288 delegates shy of officially clinching the Republican nomination, according to an Associated Press count. There are 107 delegates at stake Tuesday, and Romney could win about 100 if he does well.
The former Massachusetts governor struggled through a prolonged primary this winter and spring, fending off challenges from the right, particularly in Southern states. But Romney all but sealed the contest after a win in Wisconsin’s primary in early April. Santorum decided to leave the race ahead of the primary in his home state of Pennsylvania and endorsed Romney in an email to supporters Monday night.
“The primary campaign certainly made it clear that Gov. Romney and I have some differences. But there are many significant areas in which we agree,” Santorum wrote, citing common ground in economic, social and foreign policy.
He added: “Above all else, we both agree that President Obama must be defeated. The task will not be easy. It will require all hands on deck if our nominee is to be victorious. Gov. Romney will be that nominee and he has my endorsement and support to win this the most critical election of our lifetime.”
According to recent Wisconsin polls, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett leads former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk in the race to run as Democratic candidate for governor in a historic recall election. The recall vote against Republican Gov. Walker stems largely from his successful push to end nearly all collective bargaining rights for most state workers.
Walker, who has emerged as a conservative hero, shattered state campaign finance records, raising $25 million in an effort to keep his job. He is on the Republican primary ballot but faces only token opposition.
In North Carolina, voters were considering a referendum that would define marriage as between a man and a woman, effectively slamming the door on same-sex marriages. Political observers expected the measure to pass.
In the campaign’s final days, Obama Cabinet members voiced support for same-sex marriage and former President Bill Clinton lent his voice to robocalls opposing the amendment. Evangelist Billy Graham, 93, has been featured in full-page newspaper ads backing the gay-marriage ban.