Entries in Alabama (25)


Paul Ryan Raising Cash in Red States 

Win McNamee/Getty Images(HUNTSVILLE, Ala.) – Only 11 days before Election Day, why is Paul Ryan visiting solidly red states like Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia?

It’s not for votes, but cash.

Despite Thursday’s announcement that the Romney campaign had $169 million cash on hand and there is limited air time left to buy in the battleground states, Ryan was fundraising Friday, making stops in Greenville, S.C., and Huntsville, Ala. This was the final money-hauling day on the GOP vice presidential nominee’s schedule, according to a Romney aide.

And haul they did, raising $1 million at an arena and concert hall Friday afternoon alone, according to Linda Maynor, a finance committee member.

Ryan also made a stop in Atlanta on Wednesday evening and was supposed to fundraise in Austin on Thursday, according to an invitation obtained by ABC News, but the campaign said Ryan would not be attending the event.

In Alabama, tickets ranged from $1,000 for the general reception, $5,000 for a photo with the House Budget Chairman, and a $25,000 donation or $50,000 raised for a ticket to the round table discussion with Ryan.

Ryan was joined by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and several members of the Alabama congressional delegation, and he noted the crowd “probably” doesn’t get to “see all the ads here, do you?”

“I’ve got to say, we’re in the home stretch here,” Ryan told the donors gathered at the Von Braun Center.  “We are very clear, very close, and the contrast could not be sharper. And what I want to do right now is to thank you for your generosity…. What you’re doing is you are helping us execute a campaign where, in these critical battleground states, we are giving the country what it deserves, which is the people of this nation get the right to make the choice about what kind of country they want to have.”

He made similar comments Wednesday evening in Atlanta where, unlike the ads that are drowning the airwaves from Florida to Virginia, Ohio to Colorado, Georgians aren’t exposed to them. Ryan even joked when explaining what the last-minute cash pays for.

“You probably don’t see a lot of the ads do you?” Ryan laughed at the event at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center.

“What your help here today does is, it helps us see this through, it helps us get through the closing moments because there is so much clutter out there,” Ryan told the 600 donors.

Ryan added that the donations they are bringing in at the Southern events is used to “run through the tape and see it through the end.”

In Alabama Friday, he explained the late money in the campaign’s coffers “help us with what we call the ground game: mobilizing voters to get them to the polls. Historically, Republicans have not been as good at that. We’re getting a lot better.”

Ryan explained that the successful recalls in his home state of Wisconsin have taught Republicans “if you have a good ground game, if you get the choice into the hands of the voter they’ll make the right decision.”

“I really believe the feel on the ground, it feels like our recalls,” Ryan explained. “People are excited. People know we can do better than this. People know we can get back on top.”

He noted that red state Alabama voters are “not in what we call one of these battleground states because you have proven, dedicated principled leadership that’s not in question or in doubt.”

The Wisconsin Congressman said he used to call the Obama campaign’s attacks “the spaghetti strategy, throw something against the wall to see what sticks. Now he’s practicing the kitchen sink strategy, throw everything but the kitchen sink at us to try and win by default.”

Ryan’s Atlanta fundraiser Wednesday cost donors $500 for the general reception, $10,000 for a photograph with the congressman, and $25,000 for the roundtable. The donation price tags may sound staggering, but it’s standard fare for both Romney and Ryan fundraisers, as well as the high dollar events President Obama has had throughout his campaign. It was quite a contrast, though, for Ryan who earlier the same day gave a speech on eliminating poverty and upward mobility in the critical state of Cleveland.

Of course it is not just Republicans raising massive amounts of money, Obama has spent more time fundraising than any other incumbent president.

This campaign is on pace to break the $2 billion mark with the president already hitting $1 billion and Romney close behind, with $954 million, according to disclosures filed by the campaigns Thursday. This is the most expensive campaign in history because traditionally, a candidate was given a fixed amount of money to run with from the national conventions through Election Day.

That all changed, though, four years ago when Barack Obama broke his pledge to accept federal funding in order to raise the money himself. This time around neither candidate is using the public financing system. That coupled with the rise of the super PACs have turned the race for the White House to a campaign where candidates split their time between campaigning in the battleground states and pumping donors for cash all over the country. The birth of the superPAC gives wealthy donors the ability to give unlimited amounts to both sides for the first time.

Friday’s event in Alabama was the last one on the schedule for Ryan. Romney’s final fundraiser he would attend took place on Oct. 20 in Palm Beach, Fla. while Obama’s was on Oct. 11 in Miami.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Santorum Wins Alabama, Mississippi; Pledges to ‘Compete Everywhere’

Sean Gardner/Getty Images(LAFAYETTE, La.) -- Rick Santorum won both Alabama and Mississippi Tuesday night, sweeping the Super Tuesday of the South and cementing the notion that this is truly a two-man battle with Mitt Romney.

The former Pennsylvania senator walked out on stage in Lafayette, La., to cheers after the polls closed and said, “We did it again!”

Flanked by his wife Karen and three of his children, Santorum immediately took a jab at Romney, who earlier in the day said Santorum was at the “desperate end” of his campaign.

“People are saying you’ve been outspent and you know, everybody’s talking about all the math and all the things in this race is inevitable,” Santorum said.  “Well, for someone who thinks this race is inevitable, he spent a whole lot of money against me for a race that was inevitable.”

Vastly outspent by Romney in Mississippi and Alabama, Santorum was still able to take them both.  He told supporters at a hotel Tuesday evening that his is a “grassroots campaign.”

“We will compete everywhere, we will compete everywhere,” Santorum said.  “The time is now for conservatives to pull together.  The time is now to make sure, make sure that we have the best chance to win this election and the best chance to win this election is to nominate a conservative to go up against Barack Obama who can take him on in every issue.”

The candidate runs his campaign like none of his current competitors or even like the campaigns he ran previously: There is no bus, no headquarters and his staff is scaled down.

“Who would have ever thought in the age of media that we have in this country today that ordinary folks across this country can defy the odds day in and day out,” Santorum said.

Santorum chose to give his speech in neither Mississippi or Alabama and instead went to Louisiana, which votes on March 24.  He looked directly into the camera and pledged to Louisiana voters he would end the “extreme environmental policies of this administration.”

“We wanted to be here in Lafayette,” Santorum said.  “We will put this town back to work so you can have a better quality of life.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Newt Gingrich Says Romney’s Inevitability ‘Collapsed’

Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich lost both Alabama and Mississippi to Rick Santorum on Tuesday.  But while Gingrich campaign advisers had called the two states “must-win” just last week, more recently he said that no matter what the outcome Tuesday, he would still soldier on to other primaries and all the way to the convention in Tampa, Fla.

“Because this is proportional representation we are going to leave Alabama and Mississippi with a substantial number of delegates, increasing our total going toward Tampa,” Gingrich said, noting that delegates will ultimately decide the GOP nominee.

Romney has a large delegate lead, but Gingrich said Tuesday night’s third place finishes will hurt the former Massachusetts governor.

“I emphasize going to Tampa, because one of the things tonight proved is that the elite media’s effort to convince the nation that Mitt Romney is inevitable just collapsed,” he said.

Gingrich said that conservative candidates -- he and Santorum -- got more than 70 percent of the vote.  Romney, Gingrich said, is a “Massachusetts moderate.”

“If you’re a front-runner and coming in third, you are not much of a front-runner,” Gingrich said.

He said he didn’t believe Romney had the ability to beat President Obama in the fall, which is “part of the reason I have insisted on staying in this race.”

Gingrich heads to Illinois on Wednesday and will campaign in Louisiana later in the week.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Alabama Gov. Votes for Santorum, But Stays Clear of Endorsing

ABC News(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- The Rick Santorum campaign touted the news Tuesday morning that Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley had voted for the former Pennsylvania senator in the state’s primary. But the governor’s office has put out a statement saying that while he did cast his vote for Santorum and believes he is “the most conservative candidate” in the primary, he does not endorse him.

“Governor Bentley has chosen not to publicly endorse a candidate,” the statement from Deputy Press Secretary Leah Garner read. “He believes a vote is a personal decision that should be based on a voter’s values and principles, not on someone else’s opinion. The Governor was asked as a voter who he would vote for, and he answered that he had personally chosen to vote for Rick Santorum. The Republican primary features a strong pool of candidates, and Governor Bentley has made it clear he will fully support the Republican nominee chosen by the people.”

Tuesday morning, Santorum’s Twitter account touted the news and the campaign quickly put out a statement with a photograph of Santorum and his wife, Karen, with the governor announcing the news.

Mississippi also holds its primary Tuesday. Santorum along with Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are locked in a three-way tie, according to recent polls.

Mississippi Congressman Alan Nunnelee endorsed Santorum Tuesday and said in a statement he plans to vote for him.

Santorum will have his primary night party not in either voting state, but in Louisiana, which votes on March 24th. His super PAC announced Tuesday that they were pouring $260,000 dollars into an ad buy in the state.  The television ad will focus on energy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GOP Candidates Get Ready to Face Off in Alabama, Mississippi

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The long slog that the Republican presidential primary has become will swing through the Deep South on Tuesday when voters in Alabama and Mississippi head to the polls, but a decisive result of any kind seems unlikely.

For front-runner Mitt Romney, who appears all but certain to secure the nomination eventually, a victory in either state would be a massive boost, giving him sorely needed southern success.  For Rick Santorum, a win would bolster his argument that the race is far from over.  And Newt Gingrich may need victories in Alabama and Mississippi more than either of his rivals, but his campaign has refused the notion that both states are must-wins.

A series of primaries over the weekend provided a preview of the race to come.  Santorum romped to a commanding win in Kansas, the weekend’s single biggest prize, but Romney captured the bulk of delegates in Guam, the Northern Marianas and the Virgin Islands, giving the former Massachusetts governor more delegates from the four contests than Santorum.

The race, it seems, has become a battle of math versus momentum.  Even if Santorum manages to put together a winning streak in the upcoming states, Romney, with his superior campaign organization, will likely continue to amass so many delegates that the nomination will ultimately be his.

The math argument is one that the Romney campaign has been making since Super Tuesday.

“The nomination is an impossibility for Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich,” a Romney campaign strategist said last Wednesday, claiming that it would take “an act of God” for one of their two rivals to win.

If Romney has math on his side -- to date Romney has secured 454 delegates, more than double the 217 that Santorum has.  The former Pennsylvania senator leads Romney 34 percent to 30 percent in a new national CBS/New York Times poll and he stands to do well in a series of upcoming states, including Alabama and Mississippi, where even Romney aides acknowledge that their candidate may not have that much support, despite the endorsement of the governors of both states and comic Jeff Foxworthy.

“When we have our nominee going out there and trying to sell the American public to vote for him because of mathematics, we are in very, very tough shape,” Santorum said at a campaign stop over the weekend.  “This isn’t about math.  This is about vision.  It’s about leadership.  It’s about taking this country in a direction that is critical because big things are at stake in this country.”

For Santorum to keep making his momentum argument, success in Alabama and Mississippi is imperative.  Recent polls show a close race in both states.

It is entirely possible for Santorum to win both states, but still come out as the loser in terms of delegates.  Both Alabama and Mississippi award delegates proportionally, so Romney is likely to do well enough to gain at least some delegates there.

In addition, caucuses will also be held in Hawaii and American Samoa, where -- as evidenced by his success in Guam, the Northern Marianas and the Virgin Islands -- Romney is considered likely to win.

Gingrich, meanwhile, lags far behind both Romney and Santorum, making the contests in Alabama and Mississippi potentially more important for him than for his rivals.  The former House speaker has only won two states -- South Carolina and Georgia -- and a total of 109 delegates to date.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Santorum Tells Alabama Voters He’s the "True Red Conservative"

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- Just hours after Mitt Romney accused Rick Santorum of being to the left of him, the former Pennsylvania senator hit back, telling a crowd in Montgomery, Ala., that his victories show just how conservative he is.

“You have candidates who do not have a conservative record, but who are now -- because they are in a primary, they are out there trying to run to the right and say, ‘Oh, we’re the most conservative,’” Santorum said Monday evening.  “But if you look at the state that just voted on Saturday, Kansas, there’s no more rock rib solid conservative state in the country than the state of Kansas, it’s about as red as they get.  Oklahoma, about as red as they get.  And who won Kansas and Oklahoma?”

He told the audience of about 200 that if the voters of Alabama and Mississippi, who go to the polls on Tuesday, “have any doubt who the true blue conservative is -- or the true red conservative is, there is no question.”

Earlier Monday on Fox News, Romney told Neil Cavuto that he “find(s) it interesting that he (Santorum) continues to describe himself as the real conservative” before listing reasons he believes his opponent is not, adding Santorum’s “record does not suggest he has the fiscal conservative chops that I have.”

Santorum again said if he’s the victor on Tuesday it will become a “two-person race,” suggesting the loss for Newt Gingrich would push him out of contention.

According to several polls, Santorum, Romney and Gingrich are locked in a three-way tie in both states.

Santorum made a final push Monday evening for the audience members’ votes, telling them their primaries are not usually this important.

“This is the first time your vote in a Republican primary is going to make a difference.  And it’s going to make a huge difference,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Makes Birthday Pitch in the Rain to Alabama Voters

Win McNamee/Getty Images(MOBILE, Ala.) -- Huddled underneath an awning as rain pelted the umbrella-bearing, poncho-clad crowd, Mitt Romney stressed to Alabama voters that a vote for him in Tuesday’s primary could help boost him in the delegate race.

“This could be an election that comes down to a very small margin between the three people running here most aggressively, and if you will give me your support, that would not only give me more delegates.  By the way, we’re about two and half times ahead in the delegate race, so we’re doing really well, but I need even more delegates so if you guys are able to do that for me, we can well take this over, over the top at a very fast pace,” Romney said outside a Whistle Stop in Mobile.

“We’re going to get this thing won.  Jeff Foxworthy’s going to make all the difference in the world, and you guys by voting multiple times can make a big difference,” joked Romney.

Minutes before Romney was scheduled to take to the stage at his outdoor rally, his only public event of the day, dark rainclouds overhead opened up and poured onto audience members sitting in folding chairs and journalists standing on press risers.  Romney, who was joined by Jeff Foxworthy, who endorsed Romney, emerged from the restaurant where he privately spoke to voters prior to the rally and called the crowd to gather around him underneath the awning.  Working as an advance man himself, Romney directed his staff to turn the speakers around and hopped on top of one to speak to the crowd.

Shortly after Romney assumed his perch, the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to Romney, who turned 65 years old Monday.

"Thanks so much for giving me this birthday present. Hopefully, I can wrap it up tomorrow," Romney said, referencing the Alabama primary.

With Foxworthy standing to his right, Romney criticized President Obama by playing off the name of the game show hosted by Foxworthy – Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

“Any fifth graders? We are going to have a test here. If you spend more money than every year than you take in, is that good for the economy?” said Romney as the crowd shouted “No!”

“Even the fifth graders could figure that one out,” he said.

"I'm afraid the president has failed the show, and I know he is smarter than a fifth grader, I sometimes ask why he does the things that he does, because they are not good for America, if they are not creating jobs, not raising incomes, not getting us gasoline that we can afford. I happen to think Washington is a mess. I think three years ago we sent to Washington a message, and I think it's time to send a President to Washington who can fix things in this country," said Romney.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Santorum: If Campaign's About Math 'We Are In Very, Very Tough Shape' 

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(GULFPORT, Miss.) -- Two days before Mississippians vote, Rick Santorum admitted he has made a few mistakes on the campaign trail, saying he has had some “lowlights” on his quest to the nomination.

“Now I’ve had my highlights and my lowlights during the campaign,” Santorum said on Sunday, telling the boisterous crowd he’s only had five days off since announcing in June.

“You know we get fired up sometimes and say some things that I wish I had a mulligan on if you will, but if you’re not scripted that’s going to happen,” he said.  “Well, all of us in our own life say, ‘Well, I wish I hadn’t said it quite like that.’”

Last week on CNN, Santorum admitted that his wife Karen has tried to reel him in when he’s said some of his more eyebrow-raising comments, like calling President Obama a “snob.”

On Sunday, he asked the crowd of about 300 at the Lookout Steakhouse in Gulfport, Miss., to embrace their “key role” in the next few days.  The former Pennsylvania senator again hit back against the Romney campaign’s claim that their delegate advantage is insurmountable for Santorum.

“You have Gov. Romney now saying, ‘Oh this race is over, that mathematically it can’t work,'” Santorum said.  “When we have our nominee going out there and trying to sell the American public to vote for him because of mathematics, we are in very, very tough shape.  This isn’t about math.  This is about vision, it’s about leadership, it’s about taking this country in a direction that is critical because big things are at stake in this country.”

Santorum touted his campaign work ethic saying since this started he has been the hardest working candidate on the trail, throwing a jabbed veil at Romney and trying to contrast his opponent’s campaign as “going out, raising money and just trying to run negative ads.”

“In every state, we’ve been campaigning and campaigning hard,” Santorum said.  “We haven’t blown off any state, we’ve gone to every state.  Well, I didn’t go to Alaska, but there was a reason for that.  It was just a little too far to get out there, but every other state that has been a primary, we’ve gone out and visited and we’ve talked to folks, and that’s not been a case with other campaigns.  The other campaigns have been going out, raising money and just trying to run negative ads, and I’m trying to get out and talk to people.”

Of course, Santorum did not compete in every state choosing not to campaign in Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Wyoming as well as Alaska.  He did not campaign in Virginia, but he -- along with Newt Gingrich -- was not on the ballot in that state.

Santorum is scheduled to campaign next in both Mississippi and Alabama on Monday, ahead of their primaries Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


How Will Romney Spend His 65th Birthday?

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney plans to celebrate his 65th birthday on the stump in Alabama Monday, where he will hold a campaign event in Mobile alongside new backer and comedian Jeff Foxworthy.

Romney will then jet back to Florida to attend a high-dollar fundraiser in Miami without his wife, Ann, who will stay in Alabama to campaign on his behalf on Monday.

Seems like this year the birthday tradition of Ann cooking Romney’s favorite dinner -- personal size meatloaf cakes with a brown sugar and ketchup sauce -- will have to wait.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gingrich Dubs Romney ‘Weakest’ GOP Front-Runner in 90 Years

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Newt Gingrich may be the most authentic, grits-eating Southerner in the GOP primary race, but don’t expect any Southern hospitality from the Georgia native.

As the Republican race heads south for the Alabama and Mississippi primaries this week -- two primaries that could be make-or-break contests for Gingrich -- the former House speaker is spitting fire at his top GOP rival, saying on Sunday that Mitt Romney was the “weakest” front-runner in nearly a century.

“The fact is, Romney is probably weakest Republican front runner since Leonard Wood in 1920, and Wood lost on the 10th ballot,” Gingrich said on Fox News Sunday.

Wood was the early Republican favorite in the 1920 election, having secured the endorsement from former President Teddy Roosevelt.  But despite Wood’s monetary advantage, he entered the Republican National Convention without enough delegates to secure the nomination.

After 10 rounds of voting, Republicans dropped Wood and nominated Warren G. Harding, who entered the convention in fourth place in the delegate count.

Gingrich predicted a similar swap could happen this primary cycle.  In a brokered convention like that, Gingrich said he thinks “there is a space” for him.

“I think we are likely to see after the last primary in June, we’re likely to see a 60-day conversation about what’s going to happen as we already see Romney dominating,” Gingrich said.  “And in that context … remembering that I was in first place both in December and again in mid-January in terms of the Gallup poll and the Rasmussen, I think there is a space for a visionary conservative with big solutions.”

Later on CBS’ Face the Nation, Gingrich said he was “committed to going all the way to Tampa,” where the Republican National Convention will be held in August.

Gingrich has won only two of the 25 primaries and caucuses so far and is trailing Romney by more than 300 delegates.  The pro-Santorum Super PAC, The Red White and Blue Fund, called for Gingrich to drop out so the anti-Romney voting bloc could coalesce around one candidate, Santorum.

But Santorum has not followed in his Super PAC's shoes.  The candidate said Sunday that “Gingrich can stay in as long as he wants.”

“I’m not going to tell people to get out,” Santorum said on NBC’s Meet the Press.  “I didn’t ask Speaker Gingrich to get in.  I’m not going to ask him to get out.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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