Welcome to the general election.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s wins in primaries in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Wisconsin, combined with President Obama’s sharp criticism of the long Republican primary on Tuesday, illustrated that the GOP primary is effectively over. Romney and Obama are now engaged in a seven-month contest for the presidency that is likely to be much more negative than Obama’s hope-fueled 2008 run.
“One of my potential opponents, Governor Romney, has said that he hoped a similar version of this plan from last year would be introduced as a bill on day one of his presidency. He said that he’s “very supportive” of this new budget, and he even called it “marvelous” — which is a word you don’t often hear when it comes to describing a budget,” Obama said Tuesday, referring to a controversial budget proposal House Republicans have touted and Romney supports.
It was one of the first times Obama has uttered Romney’s name this year.
WATCH ‘MORNING JOE’ COVERAGE OF MITT ROMNEY’S VICTORIES:
In turn, after his primary wins, Romney attacked Obama repeatedly, arguing the president is out of touch after “years of flying around on Air Force One surrounded by an adoring staff of true believers.”
That the two Harvard alums are taking one another on is hardly surprising. Obama’s top aides have viewed Romney as the most likely Republican nominee for months. Romney, in turn, tried to ignore his Republican rivals for much of the primary and concentrate on Obama.
He may finally get that chance. Neither former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) nor ex-Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum are showing signs of leaving the Republican race. And Santorum could even win a few more primaries, including the April 24 contest in his home state of Pennsylvania and contests in southern states like Kentucky and Arkansas in May.
But in truth, the Republican race is over, as Romney has a huge delegate lead, and the party’s establishment is increasingly behind him.
Follow Perry Bacon Jr. on Twitter at @perrybaconjr