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Romney Turns Attention To Ohio, Super Tuesday


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Audie Cornish. With the Michigan and Arizona primaries in his rearview mirror, Mitt Romney sped off to Ohio today. That's one of the 10 states that will vote next week on Super Tuesday. In a few minutes, we'll measure the broader picture of the GOP nominating contest with some members of the Republican establishment. First, NPR's national political correspondent Don Gonyea caught up with last night's winner in Toledo.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: The small factory where Mitt Romney spoke is just a few miles from the Michigan/Ohio state line, a short drive for our candidates still basking in a very close win in the place where he grew up.

MITT ROMNEY: Well, it was a big night last night for me. I was very pleased, very good news. Arizona and Michigan right next door...

GONYEA: And Romney took special pride in this detail from yesterday's exit polls.

ROMNEY: And interestingly, the people who said that the economy and jobs were their number one issue, they voted for me overwhelmingly.

GONYEA: There was relief for Romney last night. A loss in Michigan would have been potentially devastating to his campaign. Instead, he was free today to all but ignore his GOP rivals and to keep the criticism focused on President Obama. The Toledo event wasn't designed as a big rally. The intent seemed to be to get Romney on TV campaigning in the state as Super Tuesday approaches. He spoke for just 12 minutes, but small business owner Ken Welcher(ph) liked what he heard.

KEN WELCHER: He cues in on small business. Small business is the backbone of America. It's the job creator. Government doesn't create jobs. Small business, I'm the job creator. I'm the guy that gets - hires the workers.

GONYEA: Also there was Tom Stamos(ph). He, too, is in business. He describes himself as a Republican, but also independent. He's watched debates and followed some coverage of the primaries, but now that the campaign has come to his state, he's only now starting to sort things out.

TOM STAMOS: I am not making this up. I'm totally serious, but I am completely undecided even now.

GONYEA: All in all, it seemed a routine day for Romney. He was clearly feeling good, then, as can happen on the campaign trail, suddenly there was an unexpected moment requiring damage control. Romney was doing a television interview with the Ohio News Network. He was asked about health coverage, contraception, and religious organizations. The interviewer is Jim Heath. In the following question to Romney, he's referring to Rick Santorum.

JIM HEATH: (inaudible) Is being debated, I believe, later this week. That deals with banning or allowing employers to ban providing female contraception. Have you taken a position on that? He's said that he's for that – and we'll talk about personhood in a second – but he's for that. Have you taken a position on that?

ROMNEY: I'm not for the bill. But, look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a woman, a husband and wife, I'm not going there.

GONYEA: Romney's answer seemed to set him apart from the rest of the GOP field. But in the afternoon, the campaign issued a correction, with Romney himself saying he was confused by the wording of the question. A lesson for the Romney campaign in its very close victory in Michigan is that you can't take anything for granted - something this latest controversy underscores as well. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Toledo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.