MILWAUKEE - After sweeping wins in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C.'s primaries, Mitt Romney took to the stage today to deliver a pounding critique of President Obama, fully ignoring his GOP rivals and instead painting the president as "out of touch."
"It's enough to make you think that years of flying around on Air Force One, surrounded by an adoring staff of True Believers telling you that you're great and you're doing a great job, it's enough to make you think that you might become a little out of touch with that, and that's what's happened," Romney said of the president.
Romney skipped the perfunctory congratulations to his fellow GOP candidates. In fact, over the past few days of campaigning in Wisconsin, Romney has steered clear of mentioning his primary competitors, signaling a shift to the general election. Romney went straight after Obama this evening, saying another four years of his administration would ensure a "government centered society."
"This campaign is going to deal with many complicated issues but there's a basic choice we're going to face," Romney said in the ballroom of an event space known as the Grain Exchange in downtown Milwaukee. "The president has pledged to transform America and he spent the last four years laying the groundwork for a government-centered society. I will spend the next four years rebuilding the foundation of an opportunity society led by free people and free enterprise."
Romney looked ahead to the next set of primaries, the April 24 contests in five states in the Northeast.
"Tonight, I'm asking the good people of Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Delaware and Connecticut to join me," he said. "Join me in the next step toward that destination of Nov. 6, when across America we can give a sigh of relief and know that the promise of America has been kept."
Romney, who for the first time on a primary night appeared on stage without any of his family members, was accompanied by Rep. Paul Ryan, who endorsed Romney late last week and buoyed the candidate during his tour of the Badger State.
Stuart Stevens, a senior strategist for Romney's campaign, waved off rumors that Ryan may have been "auditioning" for the vice presidential slot, saying he's "terrific" but declined to speculate on any potential role for Ryan in the campaign going forward.
Asked by a reporter whether he thinks there is good chemistry between Romney and Ryan, Stuart deflected.
"Sure, but I mean look, reading into anything like that," Stuart said, before trailing off.