Durbin: Romney 'likely' to be the GOP presidential nominee

January 11, 2012

By The Associated Press and Alex Keefe

(AP/File)

The No. 2 Democrat in the U.S. Senate said Wednesday it looks like Mitt Romney will likely come away with the Republican presidential nomination.

Illinois U.S. Dick Durbin, the Senate Majority Whip and a vocal backer of President Barack Obama, said that Romney seems to be on a roll after back-to-back wins in two early election contests.

"He's scored a rare victory in Iowa and New Hampshire and appears to have momentum," Durbin said at an unrelated news conference. "Those who have tried to bring him down haven't been very successful. It could be argued that his numbers in New Hampshire should have been better, but he won."

Romney won New Hampshire's GOP primary Tuesday, capturing 39 percent of the Republican vote. The former Massachusetts governor narrowly eked out an eight-vote victory over former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in last week's Iowa caucuses.

But Durbin said the former Massachusetts governor may have a harder time in South Carolina's primary next week. Romney himself has conceded he faces an "uphill climb" in the Palmetto State's Jan. 21 primary. He finished in fourth place in the 2008 contest.

Meanwhile, President Obama is set to spend part of his Wednesday touting tax policies the White House said will reward companies that create jobs in the U.S. The president's comments came in prepared remarks released ahead of a White House event meant to underscore his focus on jobs a day after his Republican foes competed in the New Hampshire primary. Mitt Romney and other opponents have made attacks on Obama's economic leadership central to their campaigns.

Durbin added that Mr. Obama will ultimately have to reassure voters about the economy in order to win another term in office.