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Romney wages Capitol Hill charm offensive

Mitt Romney waged a charm offensive on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning, meeting with conservative heavyweights and courting lawmakers who hail from states that are soon to host primaries.

Romney spent a jam-packed morning in Washington, D.C., where he held a fundraiser that netted the campaign $450,000. The fundraiser was better than expected, Romney campaign officials said, so much so that additional tables and chairs had to be brought in to accommodate the extra guests.

That was just one stop in the former Massachusetts governor's whirlwind tour of Washington.

Romney met with Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, for about 45 minutes this morning. Romney is also slated to meet sometime today with South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, an influential conservative figure.

The meetings were significant as part of Romney's effort to shore up additional conservative support as he seeks to work toward gaining a firmer hold on the Republican presidential primary.

The Ryan meeting was especially significant given the Wisconsin Republican's unveiling this week of his 2012 budget, essentially a distillation of conservatives' vision to reshape federal spending if Republicans were elected this fall. Romney warmly praised the plan Tuesday upon its release, and Democrats, who charge the plan would "end Medicare," this morning labeled the plan the "Ryan-Romney budget."

Romney's work to court Washington Republicans extended also to meetings with Republican lawmakers from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Texas. Wisconsin hosts its primary April 3, and Pennsylvania hosts a primary on April 24. Both are considered must-win contests for Romney's chief rival, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.