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As Wisconsin Heads To Polls, Romney And Santorum Vie For Last-Minute Support

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Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have been fighting it out in Wisconsin for the past week. And Tuesday night they'll see the results of their labors. Republicans will also cast votes Tuesday in Maryland and Washington, D.C., primaries, though the candidates have not spent much time there.

In all three contests, polls show Romney with a wide lead. Yet Santorum continues to campaign as relentlessly as ever. On Tuesday's Morning Edition, NPR's Ari Shapiro and David Welna filed reports from the trail.

Traveling with Romney in Milwaukee, Shapiro notes that Romney has been on a Great Lakes winning streak. He carried his birth state of Michigan, squeaked by in Ohio and buried his opponents in Illinois.

At an oil company in Milwaukee on Monday, he urged Wisconsin voters to help him continue the pattern. Shapiro reports that Romney did not mention Santorum or the other Republicans in the race and instead delivered a relentless economic message, attacking President Obama on every front.

Romney also talked about his wife, Ann, and their 42 years together more than he typically does, Shapiro notes. This could be part an effort, he says, to win over female voters. A new poll shows women overwhelmingly leaning toward President Obama in the general election.

Traveling with Santorum in Ripon, Wis., Monday, David Welna reports that Santorum addressed a crowd of several dozen supporters and urged them to take the day off to vote Tuesday.

"You have the opportunity to shock the world. Everybody expects that, with all the establishment and all of the media singing this song about 'well, this race is over, it's over, it's over.' Less than half the delegates have been voted for. We're not even at halftime in this race," Santorum said.

Yet as Welna reports, Santorum acknowledges that he has been outspent by Romney and that Wisconsin has been an uphill struggle:

"Santorum is telling his supporters that an expected low turnout in this open primary means each vote will count more today. He's gone bowling, eaten cheese curds and quaffed beer here to bolster his image of a regular guy, the kind rural and working class Wisconsinites can trust. Today's vote could be the most crucial test yet of his viability."

Santorum's national campaign manager, Michael Biundo, tells Welna that although polls show his candidate trailing Romney by seven to 10 points, "I think we're ... going to do well."

As Welna notes, however, Santorum isn't sticking around the state to find out. He's planning an election-night rally in his home state of Pennsylvania, girding for its primary on April 24.

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