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Romney hopes to sweep three states

Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney is looking for a sweep in three Republican primaries on Tuesday, expecting to tighten his grasp in the contest to decide who will challenge President Barack Obama in the November general election.

Regardless of the outcome in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington DC, the former governor of Massachusetts is rapidly shifting his focus to the general election - and the challenges of Mr Obama's better-financed and better-organised opposition.

Mr Romney has been ignoring his main Republican rival and taking his campaign to the Democratic president, whom he accused on Monday of "crushing dreams" with a "government-centred society".

Challenger Rick Santorum has faded in the race.

The grinding Republican campaign race has complicated Mr Romney's ability to re-focus his broader organisation towards the incumbent president. Aides concede that staff building and fundraising for the fall general election are lagging.

Mr Romney's recent string of high-dollar California fundraisers was limited to raising money only for the Republican primary contests. Aides are only beginning to take steps to raise cash to use against Mr Obama, who has been aggressively fundraising and distributed staff on the ground in almost every state in the nation.

The delay has given Mr Obama a massive head start and the disparity is staggering.

At the end of February, Mr Obama reported 84.7 million US dollars (£52.8 million) in his campaign account compared to Mr Romney's 7.3 million dollars (£4.6 million). Mr Obama has more than 530 paid staff compared to roughly 100 employees for Mr Romney.

The president tapped into that campaign stockpile on Monday, releasing a television advert set to run in six swing states accusing Romney of standing with "Big Oil". The ad came hours after the release of a similar campaign from an Obama ally.

Mr Santorum must prove his strength in the US heartland by winning Wisconsin, where he's said he can challenge Mr Obama but where Mr Romney has beaten him consistently. Also campaigning in Wisconsin on Monday, Mr Santorum said that Mr Romney has essentially bought his success by outspending the competition.

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