ST. PAUL, Minn. —
With fewer paths to a White House win than Obama, Romney especially can’t afford to surrender votes in battleground states.
In Virginia, his biggest threat is Goode, who could bite into Romney’s right flank with a campaign appealing to voters who want to stem legal immigration and crack down harder on those in the country illegally. A Baptist with a Southern drawl who held Virginia political office for more than three decades, Goode presents himself as “a real difference between Romney and Obama.”
Elsewhere, Johnson is the one to watch, though he could pose difficulties for both major party contenders.
The handyman-turned-politician proudly brags of setting veto records to block spending during two terms as governor. Occasionally donning a peace-sign shirt under his blazer, Johnson has blitzed college campuses with a message aimed at the anti-war, pro-drug legalization crowd that Texas Rep. Ron Paul cultivated in his GOP presidential run. Paul took a respectable share of the vote in Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
Paul has yet to endorse anyone in the race and may not. He told Fox Business channel in an interview Wednesday that it was unlikely he’d publicly back Romney but wasn’t ready to say who he would personally vote for. “I’m going to sit tight a little bit longer,” Paul said.
Meanwhile, Romney has tried to heal fractures between Paul loyalists and the Republican old guard by deploying his former rival’s son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, to campaign events.
New Hampshire state Sen. Andy Sanborn, an adviser to the elder Paul, said Johnson could score with voters at Romney’s expense.
“That type of a libertarian candidate will always do well here. I’m hoping frankly that the race isn’t close enough that Mr. Johnson will have a material impact in it,” said Sanborn, who said he planned to vote for Romney.