Romney comes to Cincinnati, Newtown on Monday as Santorum surges

CINCINNATI - With the important Super Tuesday and Ohio Republican Presidential primaries just more than two weeks away, it appears candidates are now adding more campaign stops in the Tri-State.

Mitt Romney is upping his game in the area. Romney will visit Meridian Bioscience headquarters on River Hills Drive in Newtown around 1:40 pm. Monday in addition to his $2,500-a-plate fund raising dinner at Great American Tower at 5 p.m. Monday evening.

It's another sign of Ohio's growing importance in the presidential race .

The President's Day holiday marks the first visit back in the Tri-state for Romney since October. It comes as some polls show another GOP presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, surging past Romney in Ohio.

Chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party Alex Triantafilou said he predicts an all-out fight for Republican voters between now and March 6.

"We've seen support for all three of the major candidates in this race. But there is no question there has been some additional energy behind that particular campaign. But Mitt Romney has a lot of support here in Hamilton County as well," Triantafilou said.

However, other national Republican party leaders say they are more worried about the toll that heavy negative ad campaigns may take.

"I think it's a very very tough campaign. And I understand that. But the fact that these debates and these kinds of negative campaigns have driven up all the disapproval ratings of all the members up. I am still confident that Mitt Romney will succeed," said former GOP presidential candidate John McCain on ABC News' This Week.

Some Tri-State republican leaders say with all the lead changes among Republican candidates, it's almost impossible to tell who will end up winning Ohio.

"The thing that I've consistently said is these things are completely unpredictable, and that's for all us, political pundits, political operatives. These guesses that we have are always just that they are guesses," Triantafilou said.

On Sunday, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said if Romney loses Michigan, he'll have problems in other states. But local GOP leaders aren't so sure.

"I think Ohioans are going to make up their own minds especially given that rivalry that we have with Michigan. But I expect that Ohio will be independent minded as it goes about electing a republican nominee,"
said Triantafilou.

While Romney visits Great American Tower, labor groups are planning a protest in front of the building on East 4th Street beginning at 4:30 p.m.

"Mitt Romney holding a $2,500 per person fundraiser at the Great American Tower is a perfect example of exactly who he is and who he represents ," said Becky Williams, President of SEIU District 1199. "While Romney is hobnobbing on the rooftop with his wealth donors hosted by American Financial Group, ordinary Ohioans are struggling to find work and provide for their families."

We'll have complete coverage of Mitt Romney's two-stop visit to the Tri-State on Monday.

Stay with 9 News and WCPO.com for updates about Romney's visit.

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