Romney Targets Wisconsin, Not Louisiana

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Mitt Romney, it appears, has already given up on Louisiana.

Though Louisiana hosts the most immediate contest in the Republican race, Wisconsin and Maryland will hold primaries on April 3 in what could be a crucial delegate gain for Romney's campaign -- and Rick Santorum knows this.

"Louisiana's in good shape right now -- we've got a great team in Louisiana -- and we've got a great team in Wisconsin too, but Wisconsin's going to be potentially a winner-take-all state," a Santorum campaign source said in an interview. "That's where we're going to put a lot of our resources."

Louisiana, where the primary is Saturday, shows Rick Santorum firmly ahead of Romney by 10.8 percentage points among an average of Louisiana polls , according to RealClearPolitics.com.

Recent super PAC expenditures show that Restore Our Future, which backs Romney, has made two serious media buys totaling some $1.2 million in Wisconsin and Maryland, according to ProPublica.

The super PAC placed a Tuesday media buy of $730,001 in Wisconsin and a $436,204 media buy in Maryland.

Rasmussen Reports released a poll Friday that showed the former Massachusetts governor ahead of Santorum by 13 percentage points in Maryland.

Santorum's campaign has spent a chunk of time and money in Louisiana (Red, White and Blue Fund has already spent $439,773 there) in order to lock down precious delegates in another problematic state for Romney.

Aware of his slim chances in the next Southern primary, Romney's campaign released this week a television ad in Wisconsin to tout the candidate's conservative record there as he continues to fight the perception of a "Massachusetts moderate" and a flip-flopper.

"We actually cut spending. I balanced the budget every single year and by the time I left we had established over two billion dollars of a rainy day fund," Romney says in the ad as text from The Charleston Post & Courier says "Proven Fiscal Conservative."

Romney's wife, Ann, appeared in Milwaukee Thursday as she campaigned on behalf of her husband's record on the economy, women's issues and smaller government.

Red, White and Blue Fund hasn't spent a dime in Wisconsin, while Romney's campaign and supporting super PAC have highlighted the pivotal Midwestern state through most of the week. Though a pickup of another Santorum victory in a Southern state can't be overlooked, Romney's camp will likely downplay the loss as another tough sell in a region that hasn't warmed up to a Northern conservative.

Romney needs the South in November if he hopes to win the presidency, but for now it appears he's concluded he can likely afford a Louisiana loss if it helps him score a vital Wisconsin victory.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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