Posted at 08:16 PM ET, 04/10/2012

Romney begins new chapter of campaign

WILMINGTON, Delaware — Appearing relaxed and happy, even jokey at times, presidential candidate Mitt Romney was clear Tuesday about how the race for the Republican nomination has suddenly shifted his way, making him the all-but-certain party standard-bearer.

“This has been a good day for me,” Romney said as a crowd of several hundred cheered. “Senator Santorum has decided not to proceed with his campaign.”

And with that, Romney opened up a new chapter in his campaign, praising Santorum for a hard-fought race and immediately turning to undoing some of the damage of the primary season.

“He (Santorum) brought forward issues that he cared deeply about and was able to gather a great deal of public support and interest in those issues and in himself,” said Romney, who spoke with the former Pennsylvania senator on Tuesday morning. “He will continue to have a major role in the Republican party and I look forward to his work in helping assure victories for Republicans across the country in November.”

With Santorum suspending his campaign and Newt Gingrich declaring that Romney will likely be the nominee, Romney focused on the general election and sought to turn the tables on Democrats, who have accused Republicans of waging a “war on women.”

“There has been some talk about a war on women, the real war on women has been waged by the Obama administration’s failure on the economy,” Romney said, speaking at RC Fabrication, where he met with a group of women business owners.

“And if we are going to get women back to work and help women with the real issues that women care about, good jobs, good wages, a bright future for themselves, for their families, for their kids,we’re going to have to elect a president who understands how the economy works, and I do.”

Romney has a full slate of events scheduled in the next days, including in Connecticut and Rhode Island, where voters go to the polls on April 24. On Friday he heads to Missouri for a National Rifle Association speech.

During his appearance here, he fielded questions from several supporters, one of whom wanted to know about his VP pick.

“I’m here to announce today,” he said, pausing for a dramatic effect. “That I do not even have a list. This decision by Senator Santorum is unexpected and we’ll begin thinking about that at some point ... but I can’t tell you when, I can’t tell you who, because we haven’t made those decisions yet ...we’ll be thinking about that this week and making a number of decisions ... the process, not individual names. I don’t want to get things started too quickly here.”

By  |  08:16 PM ET, 04/10/2012

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