Of all the Republicans running for president, Mitt Romney is viewed as the one most likely to provide the GOP with some coattails to hang on to, according to officials charged with expanding the Republican's numbers in the House and Senate.
"From the perspective of the election and especially the economy, Romney is much better for us," said a key Republican official. The official, associated with several congressional campaigns, said that Romney's respect among voters for being a business-savvy Mr. Fix-it could help in key races, especially potentially close Senate races in Missouri, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. [See photos of 2012 GOP hopefuls on the campaign trail.]
"Those states are looking for a more mainstream economic plan backed by somebody they can trust to put it into place," said a Hill congressional campaign strategist.
In the Senate, Republicans need four more seats to take the majority. Officials believe they will take at least that many in 2012. In the House, the GOP has a 25-seat majority and hopes to retain power, though it may lose some seats. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP candidates.]
While none of the front-runners is viewed as a political dud like former Sen. Bob Dole was against Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election, few other than Romney are seen as providing the lift needed to help Senate Republicans especially over the finish line. The reason: Rick Perry and Herman Cain are viewed as southern candidates who might not be able to connect in a big way with voters in the Midwest and East voters.
Especially with Perry, Republicans are concerned that he will look and talk too much like former President George W. Bush, who still receives low approval ratings in many of those areas.
"With independents, like in Michigan or Pennsylvania, Romney's the best. I don't think the others really help us in our races," said the Hill campaign strategist.