In Illinois, Santorum Scrambles While Romney Looks For A Romp (The Note)

Mar 19, 2012 9:09am
ap rick santorum mitt romney nt 120306 wblog In Illinois, Santorum Scrambles While Romney Looks For A Romp (The Note)

(Image Credit: AP Photo)

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone) and AMY WALTER (@amyewalter)

CHICAGO — Ever since his skin-of-the-teeth victories in the Michigan and Ohio primaries, Mitt Romney has been looking for a Midwestern state where he can show he can win decisively.

Tomorrow’s Illinois primary may offer him that chance.

The front page of today’s Chicago Sun-Times says it all about how Rick Santorum is perceived here in Illinois. “HOLY MOLY!: Christian Family Behind TV’s ’19 Kids And Counting’ Stumps For Santorum.”

(The paper includes a large photo of the Duggar family, of reality television fame, who has been campaigning on behalf of Santorum.)

It’s not exactly a winning profile in suburban Chicago where voters are driven more by economic issues than ideology and religion.  Santorum doesn’t need to prove he can win Evangelical voters; he’s got to figure out a way to win among that vast middle of the GOP electorate.

Compare that with the front page of Rockford Register Star, which goes with the headline: “Romney’s Plan a crowd-pleaser: The former Governor touts his business experience, attacks president’s energy and budget policies.” The photo is of a triumphant-looking Romney mobbed by a crowd ahead of a visit to the town’s Machine Shed Restaurant yesterday.

The Chicago Tribune, which has endorsed Romney, gave Tuesday’s contest front page treatment too, and again, Romney gets the bigger and better photo while Santorum gets smaller one — and it’s from his stop in Louisiana this weekend where he’s wearing a Louisiana State University baseball jersey.

Both candidates have a feverish day of campaigning ahead of them. Romney zig-zags the state, starting in Springfield, then delivering a speech at the University of Chicago, and finally ending the day in  Peoria for a town hall and fundraiser for Congressman Aaron Schock.

Santorum spends his last day campaigning in the Land of Lincoln with four events in Rockford, Dixon, Moline and Peoria.  He also has a slew of media appearances throughout the day.

But their different approaches to primary night tomorrow speaks volumes about how each campaign sees their chances. Romney will be hosting a party in Schaumberg, Illinois. Santorum, meanwhile, will return to Gettysburg, Pa.

Santorum has been arguing he’s been out-spent badly in the state — and he’s right. The closing days of the Illinois contest have brought an onslaught of television and radio advertising from  Romney and his super PAC allies — most of it aimed squarely at squashing Rick Santorum’s hopes of pulling off an upset in next Tuesday’s primary. http://abcn.ws/wUMgGC

In fact, by our estimates, Santorum is getting out-spent seven-to-one ahead of tomorrow’s primary. Romney’s campaign and the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, have purchased roughly $3.5 million of TV airtime combined. By comparison, Santorum and the super PAC supporting him have spent around half-a-million dollars.

Santorum’s four-city scramble today is making up for lost time. The candidate spent two-full days of campaigning in Puerto Rico last week — a trip that net him less than 10 percent of the territory’s popular vote and no delegates – rather than using that time to barnstorm Illinois.

On “Good Morning America” today, ABC’s John Berman reviewed Romney’s win in Puerto Rico and his fight to prevail in the Illinois primary. WATCH:http://abcn.ws/xw1W7D

 

 

SANTORUM’S BIG ZERO IN PUERTO RICO. Rick Santorum was blown out of the Caribbean water in Puerto Rico. The latest vote totals from the island’s primary on Sunday give Mitt Romney 85 percent of the vote compared to just 8 percent for Santorum. Many political observers have already pointed out what an enormous political miscalculation it was for the former Pennsylvania senator to spend any time there at all this week, let alone two full days of campaigning during which he:

–paraded around with his good “friend” Gov. Luis Fortuño who had already endorsed his main rival months earlier

–boastfully referred to himself as “Senador Puertorriqueño”

–suggested English be a requirement for statehood in the predominately Spanish-speaking territory, which led to fallout that continued to dog him after he left the island

–and the icing on the cake: he was pictured shirtless at a hotel pool

Romney left the island with 20 delegates, while Santorum came away with little more than some time in the sun.

Newt Gingrich did not spend any time in Puerto Rico and finished fourth there (behind Buddy Roemer!). He and his wife Callista were spotted taking in Washington, DC’s  early-blooming cherry blossoms this weekend.

 

OBAMA FUNDRAISING SLIPS FROM RECORD-SETTING PACE. For the second consecutive month, President Obama has fallen off the record-setting fundraising pace he set four years ago, ABC’s Devin Dwyer reports. His re-election campaign announced Monday that it raised $45 million in February, combining contributions to Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and two joint fundraising accounts — the Obama Victory Fund and Swing State Victory Fund. In February 2008, Obama raised $56 million. The campaign’s financial update, which will be formally reported to the   Election Commission on Tuesday, follows an aggressive push for cash in recent weeks by Obama and his campaign aides, who have at times appeared panicked by the complacency of some Democratic donors and the influence of pro-GOP super PACs. “We cannot underestimate someone like [Mitt] Romney who has shown he will spend and say anything to win,” campaign manager Jim Messina warned in a fundraising appeal last week that highlighted polls showing Obama losing to Romney if the election were held today. http://abcn.ws/xcoz8U


“THIS WEEK” REPLAY: SANTORUM WANTS ONE-ON-ONE DEBATE WITH ROMNEY. GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum lambasted Mitt Romney Sunday morning on ‘This Week,” calling him a flawed candidate and asking for a one-on-one debate with the former Massachusetts governor. “I’d love to be able to get one-on-one with Gov. Romney and expose the record that would be the weakest record we could possibly put up against Barack Obama,” Santorum told ABC’s Jonathan Karl. “We can’t nominate such a weak candidate.” Santorum lashed out at Romney for “hiding” behind billionaires and for his similarities to President Obama. “The more I look at the record of Gov. Romney and match it up against Barack Obama, I feel like I am doing a training run for the general election,” said Santorum. “The same issues I’m out there campaigning on against Gov. Romney are the same issues I’m going to campaign against Barack Obama on.” http://abcn.ws/Asn9S4

HALEY BARBOUR VOTED FOR NEWT. After today’s “This Week” roundtable, Karl spoke more with former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour about his views on the Republican presidential race, whether he regrets not getting into the contest, and his defense of his controversial pardons before leaving office in January. Barbour told me that he voted for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in last week’s Mississippi primary, saying, “out of friendship, I voted for Newt.” “I didn’t endorse anybody [before the primary],” Barbour said. “I didn’t want to try to influence anybody’s vote, so beforehand I didn’t say who I voted for. But Newt and I have been friends a long, long time.” http://abcn.ws/FPxWGp

In case you missed it, catch all of yesterday’s program here:  http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/

 

ILLINOIS PRIMARY: SHOTS FIRED.

The Illinois branch of the International Association of Firefighters union released a web video attacking Romney today. The video titled, “llinois Professional Fire Fighters Against Mitt Romney,” accused the former Massachusetts governor of opposing programs that “have saved thousands of firefighter and paramedic jobs” across the country. The 30-second spot uses alarming footage of fire and medical emergencies. “In times like these, we cannot afford a president that will take an axe to public safety.” http://bit.ly/yNvpIT

 

THE BUZZ

ANN ROMNEY PITCHES WOMEN VOTERS IN ILLINOIS. Both Mitt and Ann Romney turned their attention to the concerns of women voters at a pancake breakfast in western Illinois on Sunday, ABC’s Emily Friedman reports. “Is there anyone in here that is going to vote for Obama next time? Is there anybody? I mean, we’re really upset,” said Ann Romney, who took the stage at the American Legion Post 246, where her husband Mitt had doled out pancakes to a crowd of about 200 before making remarks. “And I love it that women are upset, too, that women are talking about the economy, I love that,” she said. “Women are talking about jobs, women are talking about deficit spending. Thank you, women. We need you. We all need you in November, too. We have to remember why we’re upset and what we’ve got to do to fix things.” Ann Romney had made a similar appeal to women voters earlier this month at her husband’s Super Tuesday event, where she remarked: “Women care about the economy, they care about their children, and they care about the debt. And they’re angry, they’re furious about the entitlement debt that we’re leaving our children.” http://abcn.ws/FQI7qm

NOTED: ROMNEY SAYS DELEGATE MATH IS JUST FOR ‘INSIDERS.’ (REALLY?) Delegate math? That’s a topic only “insiders” care about, Mitt Romney said on Sunday. His comments, however, don’t square with the message he and his campaign have been driving home recently — especially over the last week. “I know a lot of people will talk about delegates and strategies and math and that’s all very interesting to the insiders,” Romney said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” ”But I think the American people want to see someone who has the leadership, skill and experience to defeat the president, and a vision of conservatism that will get American back on track again.” But rewind to Tuesday when he told reporters ahead of the Alabama and Mississippi primaries: “This is all about getting delegates. If the polls are right, we’ll pick up some delegates. That’s what it’s all about.” Later that day, after Santorum won both states, Romney said in a written statement that he was “pleased that we will be increasing our delegate count in a very substantial way after tonight.” “With the delegates won tonight, we are even closer to the nomination,” he added. And Romney last night, after his win in Puerto Rico: “And by the way, 20 delegates — all the delegates that were in that contest — are ours. That’s good news. Thank you. Very exciting.” http://abcn.ws/FPhIdg

OBAMA CAMP RESPONDS TO ROMNEY CALLS TO FIRE THE ‘GAS HIKE TRIO.’ ABC’s Jake Tapper reports: Responding to Republican Mitt Romney’s call that President Obama fire his “gas hike trio” — Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar — the Obama campaign took a shot at Romney Sunday for having raised gas taxes on Massachusetts motorists. “As a result of the president’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, domestic oil and gas production has increased each year and our dependence on foreign oil is at a 16-year low,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told ABC News, when asked for a response to Romney’s call for the president to fire three members of his cabinet. “In Massachusetts, Gov. Romney raised the gas tax by 400 percent. Now Mitt Romney rolled out a tax plan that continues to charge taxpayers $4 billion a year to subsidize oil and gas companies making record profits and he opposed raising fuel economy standards, which will save consumers an average of $8,000 per vehicle.” Yesterday on “Fox News Sunday,” Romney told guest anchor Bret Baier that when Obama “ran for office he said he wanted to see gasoline prices go up. He said that energy prices would skyrocket under his views and he has selected three people to help him implement that program: the secretary of energy, the secretary of the interior and the EPA administrator. And this ‘gas hike trio’ has been doing the job over the last three and a half years and gas prices are up. The right course is they ought to be fired.” http://abcn.ws/yp1zCp

RON PAUL NETS $3 MILLION IN FEBRUARY. Ron Paul’s inability to win a single state through this election season is now affecting his ability to raise money, ABC’s Jason Volack notes. February fundraising figures show Paul raised about $3.3 million for the month, less than the $4.5 million in January and beginning March with $1.6 million on hand. The Texas congressman’s campaign filed the report with the Federal Election Commission tonight, four days before the March 20 deadline. Paul had been a prolific fundraiser. By the end of January he had raised $31 million, placing his second to Mitt Romney among his GOP rivals. The bulk of the money coming from small-dollar donations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan, non-profit research group dedicated to tracking money in U.S. politics. http://abcn.ws/AfYH99

SANTORUM WAS WARNED THAT 2005 BOOK COULD BE DAMAGING. Rick Santorum was warned more than a year before his decisive 2006 Senate re-election defeat that the controversial book he was writing would provide his opponents with damaging ammunition to use against him. A review of the manuscript of Santorum’s book, ”It Takes A Family: Conservatism and the Common Good,” conducted by political operatives several months before it was published found what the reviewers called “a fair amount of political opportunities,” for Santorum’s rivals. The operatives identified nearly 30 “problematic excerpts” and suggested that some of them “might want to be edited or removed from the book.” One of those passages identified in the three-page memo written in 2005, a copy of which was obtained by ABC News, compared welfare programs to the Tuskegee medical experiments that began in the 1930s. John Brabender, who advised Santorum on his 2006 Senate race and is a strategist for his presidential campaign, did not deny the existence of the vetting document, but emphasized that “the only thing that is based on fact is the actual book, itself.” Santorum went on to lose his Senate race to then Pennsylvania State Treasurer Bob Casey that year by a more than 17-point margin. And the Democrats did use some of the more controversial ideas in the book to attack Santorum. http://abcn.ws/FOI30u

 

IN THE NOTE’S INBOX:

“Paul Ryan is releasing his new budget this week.  On Monday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching a new paid and grassroots campaign called ‘Medicare March’ in 41 Republican districts to hold them accountable for the new Republican budget that chooses ‘Millionaires over Medicare.’ The first phase of the DCCC’s campaign will hold these targeted Republicans accountable with automated phone calls that will patch voters through to their Member of Congress’ office so they can urge them to vote against the new Republican budget that ends the Medicare guarantee for seniors, while protecting tax breaks for the ultra wealthy.”

– Invisible Children’s CEO Ben Keesey released a video message saying the work of Kony 2012 would move forward after one of their co-founders was taken into professional care for exhaustion following what the group calls an “unfortunate incident” on Friday. WATCH: http://vimeo.com/38676617

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@elisefoley: Santorum on CBS: Odds of a brokered convention are “increasing.” http://huff.to/FPEGRD

@rickklein: as SCOTUS considers #hcr, politics seem settled. 2/3 of Americans want individual mandate or entire law tossed out: http://abcn.ws/y5gwNA

@nytjim: Essential read. NYTimes: Hawks Steering Debate on How to Take on Iran http://nyti.ms/y5wdnF #Israel

@matthewjdowd: the most valuable resource a campaign has is candidate time. what were santorum folks thinking going to Puerto Rico. Crazy. 0 delegates!

@davidaxelrod: Worth a read. Globe looks at Mitt’s muddled math on defense spending. http://bo.st/FPANiO

 

PRIMARY STATE SPEED READ

by ABC’s Chris Good

–Romney Hits the Suburbs. With polls showing a close race in Illinois, the Chicago suburbs Daily Herald reports that Mitt Romney changed plans this weekend to court suburban voters, among whom he typically performs well. http://bit.ly/wS5k2X

–Santorum Talks Faith at Louisiana Churches. Although Rick Santorum is Catholic, and although Louisiana has more Catholics than most states, Santorum campaigned at two Baptist churches on Sunday in Shreveport and Bossier City on Sunday, talking about his own faith and how he came to realize it as a young senator, the Shreveport Times reports. http://bit.ly/xOWIU2

 

POLITICAL RADAR:

Mitt Romney will hold events in Springfield, Chicago and Peoria, Illinois.

Rick Santorum will also campaign in Illinois, with stops in Rockford, Dixon, Moline and Peoria. In between events, he will also hit the airwaves for various local and national media interviews.

Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are off the campaign trail.

ABC’s Joanna Suarez


Check out The Note’s Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV

 

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