FITCHBURG, Wis. -- Mitt Romney appeared confident Saturday about his chances of winning the Wisconsin GOP presidential primary during a campaign stop at a phone bank in support of embattled Gov. Scott Walker (R).
"I have to tell you this," Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, told volunteers. "It feels better and better. The support for my campaign is growing stronger and stronger. This was an uphill battle for me if you look back three or four weeks ago, and now we’re looking like we’re going to win this thing on Tuesday. But I gotta have you guys get out and vote."
In recent days, Romney has taken aim repeatedly at President Barack Obama, and what he describes as the president's "government-centered society" approach, while holding back criticism of his Republican rivals -- a signal that his campaign is pivoting to general election mode in anticipation of securing the nomination.
When NBC's Kelly O'Donnell asked Romney what the impact of a victory in the Wisconsin primary, which will take place on Tuesday, would be, Romney said, "all of us in the contest are focusing more and more on President Obama, as we should."
"I think his failures are becoming more glaring to the American people," Romney said. "He’s begun his national campaign from what I read, he’s making speeches that sound like the start of a campaign, and I think you’re seeing all four of us that are in the race still focusing on him. I’ve got a ways to go before I get 1,144 delegates, so I’m not counting the delegates before they hatch. But I’m going to keep working very hard and hope I get a good strong send off from Wisconsin. I got a good boost from the folks in Illinois, and if I can get that boost also from Wisconsin, I think we’ll be on a path that will get me the nomination well before the convention. Sure hope so."
Romney scored several high-profile endorsements this past week, from former President George H. W. Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Ryan has accompanied Romney to a half dozen campaign appearances in the past two days.
Ryan also stopped by the phone bank for Walker. Protesters supporting Walker's recall -- as well as a smaller contingent of Romney supporters -- gathered outside. At one point, the two sides shouted dueling chants of "Recall Walker" and "We love Walker."
Inside, Ryan thanked the volunteers for working to help Walker win the June recall and keep his job, saying the governor "made the tough decisions, and he’s asking people who are in the public sector to make the same kinds of benefits and sacrifices that those of us who represent people in the private sector have been watching for years."