Romney Nears Delegate Tipping Point
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish.
Polls have just closed in Maryland and the District of Columbia, where voters have been choosing among the candidates for the Republican nomination for president. And the Associated Press is projecting that Mitt Romney could be the winner in Maryland.
In less than an hour, polls will close in Wisconsin and we're about at the halfway point in choosing delegates for the Republican National Convention. Mitt Romney is nearing the tipping point in collecting the delegates he needs to be nominated in August in Tampa, and he's expected to lengthen his delegate lead tonight.
Joining us to talk about the math is NPR's senior Washington editor, Ron Elving. Hey there, Ron.
RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Audie.
CORNISH: Well, we've got a little bit of news to start after three long months of these nominating events, what's special about tonight?
ELVING: Don't expect to see big bonfires or overturned vehicles. But something more in keeping with the Romney style of celebration is what we expect to see tonight. The three events - well, he's already won in Maryland, according to the Associated Press. It's a foregone conclusion in the District of Columbia where Rick Santorum is not on the ballot. And, well, in Wisconsin, there's Mitt Romney in Milwaukee getting his party together. And he hopes to get good news from the voters there very shortly. And it's looking like 75, 80, maybe more delegates will be coming his way tonight. And the fact that Rick Santorum is returning to Pennsylvania before the results are announced tend to underline and confirm that expectation.
CORNISH: Let's talk a little bit more about Wisconsin because that seemed to be where so much of the focus has been.
ELVING: Romney is counting on the Milwaukee and its bedroom suburbs inWashington, Wausaukee and Waukesha Counties. He's counting on a good showing in Racine/Kenosha, the southeastern cities, Madison, Green Bay. He expects to do well with urban area. Whereas Rick Santorum is hoping, as he has done in other Midwestern states, to rally the voters in more rural communities and smaller towns and smaller cities, particularly the Fox River Valley, and you get out to really Republican counties like Green Lake and Shawano and he expects to dominate there.
CORNISH: I'm sure we'll hear more tonight about this. But what has been the enthusiasm in the Wisconsin electorate? I mean, are they focused on this primary race?
ELVING: They are not terribly focused on this race. It has not been nearly the story that some of their other contests are, because they have big contests coming up in May, June and August. It's an unusual situation there. Governor Scott Walker, who's been a highly controversial figure, both in Wisconsin and nationally, is going to be the subject of a recall election there, June 5th.
And before we even get there, the Democrats are choosing a nominee to run against him in May. So that's got both parties concerned. And in August, the Republicans are going to be choosing a candidate for an open U.S. Senate seat there.
CORNISH: And so, where does this - to take us back to the Republican primary race, where are we nationally? Give us a little bit of the math, not too much, and a little bit about what's going on with the race here.
ELVING: It may be hard to believe but it could be that tonight, if Rick Santorum cannot pull off the upset win in Wisconsin that he needs, it's going to be lights out. And while he has said he's going to campaign until Mitt Romney has all 1,144 delegates he needs for the nomination, it's hard to imagine how he goes on. He's been on fiscal fumes for weeks. And when you look at Mitt Romney's other rivals, you got Newt Gingrich only doing sporadic events here and there, says he'll go to the convention and hope for there to be, you know, a big, open question as to who the nominee is. It doesn't seem likely at the moment.
And Ron Paul will continue his efforts to build a new libertarian awareness in the Republican Party, and he'll continue to get his share of the vote as he will today and tonight but very few delegates. And he may very well have a role at the convention because Mitt Romney has been very careful to take care of him and make sure he doesn't run as a third party candidate in the fall.
CORNISH: NPR's senior Washington editor, Ron Elving, thank you.
ELVING: Thank you, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.