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Connecticut GOP suited for Romney

April 22, 2012 at 5:00 AM   |   Comments

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Likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney brought his message to women voters to a woman-owned business in the state capital of Connecticut, a state he is expected to win handily Tuesday.

Connecticut, with its 25 delegates, shares the primary spotlight Tuesday with Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

RealClearPolitics.com's delegate count showed Romney with 656, recently departed Rick Santorum with 272, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 140 and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas with 67.

Few states are better suited for Romney to win than Connecticut where the GOP electorate is well-off, well-educated, and relatively moderate on social issues, CBS News reported.

In addition, Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola said the other Republican candidates mounted nothing more than a "token effort" in the state.

"I think Governor Romney's in a commanding position in Connecticut," Labriola said. "I think he's poised to win our primary, and every effort is being made such that he receives over 50 percent of the vote, so that he would sweep the delegate count."

Concerning the national delegate battle, Labriola told TheDay.com, "I think it's a near mathematical certainty that Governor Romney will be our nominee."

But Romney still faces two hurdles: a gender gap with women voters and skepticism among backers of Santorum, who announced he was suspending his campaign April 10.

Connecticut Republicans say Romney's gender gap problem will be resolved well before November.

During a campaign stop at a Hartford company owned by a woman, Romney again pressed his pitch that Republicans aren't waging a war on women; rather, "The real war on women is being waged by [President Obama's] failed economic policies."

Among Republicans attending the event at Alphagraphics Inc. was Tom Foley, who received Romney's endorsement in 2010 in his unsuccessful run for governor. Foley said he also had trouble winning the backing of female voters over Democrat Dannel Malloy, the Bridgeport Connecticut Post reported recently.

"As the campaign unfolds, you'll see that support -- particularly the gender gap -- change as people get to know the candidates," Foley said. "I think all the issues are on Gov. Romney's side."

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll indicated Romney trailed Obama among women by 19 percentage points.

Karen Brinker, owner of Alphagraphics, said Romney is especially qualified to improve the country and reduce federal spending for future generations, including her grandchildren.

"I'm concerned about the next 10, 20, 30 years and the next four years so they don't have to worry about paying the national debt," Brinker said.

Retired elementary school principal Deborah Herbst of Trumbull told the Post she was pleased by what she called Romney's strong message to women voters.

"The economy is really causing a lot of hardships to families and single parents," Herbst said. "I saw it as a building principal."

Besides trying to make inroads in the female voting bloc, Romney also must appeal to conservatives and evangelicals who backed Santorum before he bowed out April 10.

Foley said he believes Santorum eventually will endorse Romney -- he hadn't as of Thursday -- in part because he still has political ambitions, the Post said. Even so, Foley said, actually making the endorsement can be tough.

"I've been there, so I understand the hard feelings," Foley said. "It's hard not to take some of this personally."

Chris O'Brien, one of Santorum's Connecticut campaign coordinators, said he expects some Santorum backers will switch to Romney, while others will cast protest votes for Santorum, who will remain on the ballot, or for U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas or former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

"Convince me and the 1,000 volunteers around Connecticut when you talk a good conservative game now you actually hold to that," O'Brien said.

During the 2008 presidential primary season, Romney finished second in Connecticut's primary to Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the eventual Republican nominee.

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