YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Mitt Romney’s campaign is hoping the end is near.
Virtually assured a majority of delegates awarded tomorrow, (Rick Santorum is ineligible for 16 percent of them, according to a release from the Romney campaign), and eyeing a symbolically important victory at the polls in Ohio, the campaign — yet again — can almost taste the opportunity to put and end to the bitter primary season.
“I sure hope it makes a turning point in this campaign,” Romney said, of the endorsement he received yesterday from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the latest in a series of high-profile Republicans to move toward Romney.
Romney’s campaign is repeating that today is his “closing argument” tour, and Romney succinctly defined his campaign for the benefit of television sound-bites during a town-hall here today.
“This will be a campaign about more jobs, and less debt, and smaller government,” he said.
Barring an unexpectedly poor performance tomorrow, Romney’s campaign will seek to signal the end of the race by rolling more endorsements and emphasizing their candidate’s lead in the delegate count.
The length of the bitter nominating fight is taking its toll on Romney, who was said to be feeling somewhat under the weather, and his wife Ann, who quipped about the challenges of life on the campaign trail.
“If this goes on much longer, I will really be the heavyweight champion,” she said.
A Romney victory in Ohio would undermine Santorum’s argument that he appeals to blue-collar America, while a likely Newt Gingrich win in Georgia — and a tight race in Tennessee — means that the anti-Romney field may widen again.
But Romney has been here before: After New Hampshire, and again after Florida, the race appeared to be over, only to have Republican doubts about Romney and his own mistakes continue to fuel his rivals. And some Republicans believe that the fault lies ultimately with the vision of his campaign.
“Romney's campaign is only about why he's a better businessman than Barack Obama,” former Romney advisor Alex Castellanos said. “He is offering a very small campaign to a country craving a big change in direction. And Americans want to be part of something large, not something small.”
“This campaign is his for the taking, but Romney won't put this race away until he offers voters a purpose larger than his campaign provides them today,” Castellanos added.
Asked whether Super Tuesday would be the game-changer the campaign is looking for, senior advisor Eric Fehrnstrom told BuzzFeed: “We’ll see after Tuesday.”