Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, a supporter of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, said he wishes that his candidate could wrap up the nomination by Super Tuesday, March 6.
“The longer it goes on, the longer money has to be spent against a Republican as opposed to President Obama,” he said, “the more fodder there is for the record for pundits through the fall and the Obama campaign — that’s certainly true. So, yes, a more immediate resolution is clearly preferable.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has not endorsed anyone but thinks Romney will emerge as the nominee, said he worries that a protracted fight could result in side issues, rather than economic messages, defining the party and the eventual candidate.
“Any day they’re not talking about the economy is a wasted day in terms of contrasting with the president,” he said.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said the president remains highly vulnerable because of the economy, despite some recent improvements. Once the GOP contest is over, he said, the Republican nominee will have plenty of opportunities to make his case.
“I think a lot of the miniature issues and squabbles and supposed stumbles of today will be long forgotten,” he said.
The governors were gathered days ahead of crucial primaries in Michigan and Arizona. Romney predicted Sunday that he would win both contests over former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) but also suggested that there will be no quick conclusion to the nomination battle.
“I’m convinced I’m going to become the nominee, and we’ll be willing to take however long it takes to get that job done,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Although Michigan is his native state, Romney fell behind Santorum there immediately after the former senator won three contests on Feb. 7. Romney has staged a significant comeback, with polls showing him in either a dead heat or slightly ahead. In response, Santorum has escalated his attacks on Romney and has vowed to keep the campaign going as long as possible.
Santorum, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said his message is resonating in Michigan and described his rival’s economic prescriptions as “sort of warmed-over pabulum . . . ideas that are timid, ideas that are institutional, insider” and designed by Washington lobbyists. “It’s not inspiring anybody,” he said.
Santorum’s best hope Tuesday is in Michigan. He acknowledged that he is trailing in Arizona, saying the state is more difficult demographically for him — setting up the possibility of twin defeats Tuesday. But he added that the results will show “that this is a two-person race right now.”