Mendenhall, Pa. – At dusk on Tuesday, as the sun sets over the Philadelphia suburbs, Eric Fehrnstrom, Mitt Romney’s senior adviser, steps off of the campaign’s dark-blue bus. His head is down, his hair mussed. As he strolls to the nearby ballroom where Romney will soon speak, his fingers work the keypad of his cell phone. A few hours earlier, Rick Santorum, Romney’s chief rival, suspended his campaign, making Fehrnstrom’s longtime boss the presumptive Republican nominee. But Fehrnstrom isn’t celebrating. In fact, Romney’s entire entourage, the political aides and advance staffers, are pretty much stone-faced and workmanlike. In many respects, from operations to strategy, they shifted to a general-election mindset weeks ago. The Santorum announcement merely made it official.
Backstage, Romney shakes hands with Chester County Republicans near a large bowl of Caesar salad and a pile of miniature hot dogs. Cameras flash. The former Massachusetts governor, in a dark suit and aqua-green tie, poses for pictures. He’s upbeat and smiling. Fehrnstrom, looking on, tells me that the campaign will now, finally, focus its full firepower on the White House. “Our goal, from the very first day Governor Romney got into this race, was to get into a one-on-one contest with the president,” he says. “We have arrived at that point. We will work to accumulate delegates, which continues to be important. But we are very much turning our attention to the imperative of defeating President Obama.”