MILWAUKEE — President Barack Obama's administration launched a multipronged assault on Mitt Romney's values and foreign policy credentials Sunday, while a fresh set of prominent Republicans rallied behind the front-runner as the odds-on nominee for the GOP.
A defiant Rick Santorum outlined plans to leave Wisconsin the day before the state's contest Tuesday, an indication that the conservative favorite may be in retreat, his chances to stop Romney rapidly dwindling.
"I think the chances are overwhelming that (Romney) will be our nominee," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union. "It seems to me we're in the final phases of wrapping up this nomination. And most of the members of the Senate Republican conference are either supporting him, or they have the view that I do, that it's time to turn our attention to the fall campaign and begin to make the case against the president of the United States."
Both Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden went after Romney Sunday, underscoring the belief inside Obama's campaign that Romney will secure the right to face Obama this fall. Romney largely agreed, telling a Madison, Wis., crowd Sunday night that the nominee "will probably be me."
The Obama officials' involvement comes as both sides sharpen their general election strategy.
"I think Gov. Romney's a little out of touch," Biden told CBS's Face the Nation in an interview broadcast Sunday. "I can't remember a presidential candidate in the recent past who seems not to understand, by what he says, what ordinary middle-class people are thinking about and are concerned about."
Obama's team on Sunday also seized on Romney's foreign policy inexperience.
Biden said Obama was "stating the obvious" when he told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more latitude on missile defense after the November general election. The two presidents did not realize the exchange, during a meeting in Seoul, South Korea, last weekend, was being picked up by a microphone.
Romney called it "alarming" and part of a pattern of "breathtaking weakness" with America's foes.
Clinton seized on Romney's comment that Russia is America's "No. 1 geopolitical foe," suggesting there were more pressing matters of concern in global affairs.
"I think it's somewhat dated to be looking backwards instead of being realistic about where we agree, where we don't agree," Clinton told CNN on Sunday.
Biden said, "He just seems to be uninformed or stuck in a Cold War mentality. It exposes how little the governor knows about foreign policy."
But the administration's comments may have been overshadowed Sunday by Romney's ballooning Republican support.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., spent the weekend at Romney's side campaigning across Wisconsin, which holds one of three Republican contests on Tuesday. Maryland and Washington, D.C., also will vote.