Romney, Santorum Shift Campaign to Ohio

Ohio is a microcosm of the nation and the next test for the GOP.

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Ohio stands out as the next big test in the Republican presidential race, and it could give front-runner Mitt Romney an important boost as he seeks the GOP nomination.

The former Massachusetts governor and his strategists are optimistic about his prospects in Ohio after he got a surge of momentum by winning the Arizona and Michigan primaries this week. But former Pennyslvania Sen. Rick Santorum stands in his path in Ohio, which holds its primary election Tuesday. Nine other states will hold nominating contests that day but none is as important as Ohio, widely considered a microcosm of the nation and consistently a key battleground in the general election.

Sixty-six GOP delegates will be at stake in Ohio, and they will be divided on a proportional basis according to how the candidates finish in the popular vote.

[Romney Wins The Battle, But May Lose The War.]

Polls suggest a close race between Romney and Santorum but there could be major shifts in the next few days.

"There's a great deal of volatility," Ohio Secretary of State John Husted, a Republican who has not endorsed a candidate, told Politico. "I think there's a lot of calculating going on. There are people who want to beat Barack Obama and there are people who want to send a message, and they're trying to decide if they need to choose or whether they can do both."

Romney is going back to basics, emphasizing that he has the business experience to improve the economy and the general appeal to defeat President Obama. Romney is also blanketing Ohio with TV ads, a tactic that has worked for him in Michigan, New Hampshire, Florida, and elsewhere.

Santorum is appealing to hard-line social conservatives, especially on social issues such as abortion. He attacks Romney as an elitist and a weak conservative who fluctuates with the political winds.

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