Pressure mounts on Santorum after Romney sweep

(CBS News) MILWAUKEE - Mitt Romney has a more solid grip on the Republican presidential race after taking all three primaries held Tuesday.

He beat Rick Santorum by a five-point margin in Wisconsin, and won by a landslide in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

The victories helped clear Romney's path to the GOP nomination.

Even voters see it coming.

In exit polls in Wisconsin, 80 percent of Republican voters said Romney will eventually be the nominee. Even two-thirds of the people who voted for Santorum agree.

The triple win brought an air of confidence to Romney. As the Republican front-runner distanced himself from his intra-party rivals, he took on the man who is currently in the White House.

"President Obama," said Romney, "thinks he's doing a good job. I'm not kidding. He actually thinks he's doing a great job."

Romney turned the tables on a line of attack Obama officials have used against him in recent days.

Top Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod, for instance, said on "CBS This Morning" Tuesday that Romney seems "oblivious to the experiences of everyday people."

On "Face the Nation" Sunday, Vice President Biden said he thinks Romney is "out of touch."

But Romney flipped the argument Tuesday night, saying, "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 for that. And that's what's happened."

Romney's ability to challenge the president was key to his victory. He overwhelmingly won with voters who said they most wanted a candidate who could win back the White House in November.

Mr. Obama for the first time Monday singled out the former Massachusetts governor in a speech in which the president bashed the congressional Republican budget plan for its "deep" cuts.

"Gov. Romney," the president remarked, "has said that he hoped a similar version of this plan from last year would be introduced as a bill on day one of his presidency."

Romney now has more than half the delegates needed to win the nomination, but Santorum refuses to drop out.

Tuesday night, he promised to fight on and continued to take swings at Romney.

"The people of this country," Santorum said of himself, "have stood up and followed, because they've seen someone who has a clear, positive vision, someone whose convictions are also forged in steel, not on an Etch a Sketch."

Wisconsin exit polls show Romney performed stronger with groups he's struggled with in the past: Tea Party supporters and evangelical Christians.

The pressure now increases Santorum to quit the race for the good of the party. But Santorum says he's focused on winning his home state of Pennsylvania on April 24.

To see Chip Reid's report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.

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