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In Wisconsin, Mitt Romney is running against Obama, not Rick Santorum

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Meanwhile in Washington, President Obama today let loose on both Romney and Ryan, with his first, all-out attack on Ryan's House GOP budget plan and, on Monday, his first television ad to go after Romney by name, targeting ties to Big Oil.

Romney appears eager to take up the fight.

“What he’s been talking about at those campaign stops has really been about President Obama. He no longer mentions Santorum and has changed his focus and is talking more about national issues,” says Arnold Shober, a political scientist at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis.

It helps that Romney is also picking up endorsements from key figures in his party based in Wisconsin. Most top Republicans in this state – with the notable exception of GOP Governor Scott Walker – have explicitly lent Romney their support, including US Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, who introduced both Romney and Ryan Monday, and US Sen. Ron Johnson.

Governor Walker is facing a recall election in June and has said he is not endorsing a candidate, so he can focus on his reelection. Still, Romney drew strong applause from the Milwaukee crowd when he said he received a phone call that day from “your governor,” who called to urge Romney to talk more about his experience organizing the 2002 Winter Olympics.

The endorsements in Wisconsin are evidence the national “party is beginning to see him as the likely nominee,” says Charles Franklin, polling director at the Marquette University School of Law. Recent polls show that Romney has a better chance at defeating President Obama than his GOP rivals, he adds. The ultimate seal of approval will come if Romney defeats Santorum in Pennsylvania, Santorum’s home state, on April 24.

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