Entries in GOP Primary (6)


Romney to Gingrich: Release Freddie Mac Report

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(GREENVILLE, S.C.) -- Mitt Romney for the first time called on former Speaker Newt Gingrich on Saturday to release the reports he wrote for Freddie Mac.

"Speaker Gingrich worked for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. By the way, didn't he say he was going to release information about his relationship there?" Romney asked at a drop-by event at his campaign headquarters in Greenville. "Let's see what report he wrote for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, what the conclusions were and what the contract looked like. I thought he said he was going to do that. And let's have him describe his relationships in Washington."

Romney said Gingrich, who has maintained that he was a "historian" for the mortgage lender during the 2000s despite receiving $1.6 million over nine years in consulting fees should release the reports.

"He also said that he was one of the authors of the Reagan revolution economically and created these jobs. Now that we’ve looked at the Reagan diaries and seen he's mentioned only once and in a way where Reagan said he was wrong, I'd like to see what he actually told Freddie Mac," Romney said. "Don't you think we ought to see it? This is a big issue. We've got Washington insider talking about Freddie Mac, let's see what his report was to Freddie Mac, what he said to them, what advice he gave them," said Romney.

Romney's request comes as he has spent the week explaining why he will not release his tax returns until April, an issue that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley brought up during the event on Saturday morning.

"All this issue about the tax returns, he’s doing it, he's going to do it in April, he's going to show 'em, and what we're going to see is he was successful. We’re going to see that he paid on time," Haley said.

Romney also said he wished he'd been invited to join the conference call President Obama hosted last night with donors to solicit ideas for his State of the Union address.

"I wasn't invited on the call, but it was unfortunate, because I would have had a lot to say," Romney said. "First, I would have told him, isn't it time to actually put together a plan to create jobs in America?"

When a woman nearby yelled something about Obama's "cash for clunkers" program, Romney turned her remark into a new catch phrase.

"Yeah, that's right, he had a plan to get the whole economy going, cash for clunkers," Romney replied. "So we're going to, that's not a bad idea, Obama is the clunker. We don't need cash to get rid of that clunker, we just need votes."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Voting Begins in South Carolina GOP Primary

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(COLUMBIA, S.C.) -- Capping off the wildest week yet of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, the country's first primary south of the Mason Dixon line takes place on Saturday in South Carolina, a state known for picking winners.

The victor of South Carolina's GOP presidential primary has gone on to win the nomination since the primary was established in 1980, making today’s contest that much more significant.

The primary comes at an eventful time in the Republican race.

When the candidates left New Hampshire just last week, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was flying high, fresh off a resounding win in the Granite State and believed to be a narrow 8-vote victory in Iowa's Jan. 3 caucuses.

Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, was struggling after two disappointing showings to kick off the primary. To make matters worse for the former House Speaker, Romney held a comfortable double-digit lead in polls out of South Carolina.

As voters head to the polls today, Gingrich, not Romney, is now the favorite. Two commanding performances by Gingrich in the past week’s debates helped. So too may have the fact that he hails from neighboring Georgia. Not even his ex-wife's claims that he lacks the moral character to be president slowed him down.

After Gingrich's second wife Marianne told ABC News in an interview that Gingrich sought an "open marriage" agreement so he could have a mistress and an ex-wife, Gingrich delivered a resounding response to the charges when asked about them at Thursday’s debate in Charleston.

"I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office, and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that," Gingrich replied.

"To take an ex-wife and make it [an issue] two days before the primary a significant question in a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine," he said.

"The story is false," Gingrich said.

Romney, for his part, hardly enjoyed a stellar week in the run-up to the primary. He caused a stir when he revealed that he paid a 15 percent tax rate and, when questioned about releasing his tax returns on Thursday, was even booed by the crowd. On top of all that, it turned out Rick Santorum had in fact defeated him in Iowa. Suddenly the air of inevitability around the former Massachusetts governor seemed to start dissolving.

Another boost for Gingrich – and blow to Romney – came when Texas Gov. Rick Perry dropped out of the race and endorsed Gingrich. Perry’s departure could help consolidate the anti-Romney conservative vote around the former House Speaker.

Now the two contenders in South Carolina are set for a possible showdown this morning. Both candidates have planned campaign stops at Tommy’s Country Ham House, with Gingrich’s staff claiming they set up the event first.

Romney rolls into the primary knowing that success here will virtually lock up the nomination for him. Another win in Florida’s primary on Jan. 31 would be the nail in the coffin.

But the rapidly changing GOP race may now be heading in the direction of Romney's opponents, especially Gingrich. With Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, and now Perry out of the race, Gingrich is now poised to make a strong bid to emerge as the alternative to Romney.

Gingrich has gone as far as to acknowledge that a victory by Romney would virtually lock up the GOP primary for Romney, even while saying that he intends to move on to Florida come Sunday no matter what happens in South Carolina.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


No Romney, Gingrich Showdown at SC Ham House

Ethan Miller/Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(GREENVILLE, S.C.) -- It was the Ham House showdown that wasn't.

Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich didn't cross paths this morning at Tommy's Ham House in Greenville, despite both advising public schedules that suggested they would be holding campaign events at the breakfast joint at 10:45 a.m. that had ignited a media frenzy, a crush of photographers waiting by the door of the diner to catch the possible run in between the fierce GOP rivals.

But Romney arrived nearly an hour earlier than his schedule had advised, going to the restaurant directly after his first event of the morning at his Greenville headquarters.

"We see Newt all the time," one Romney campaign aide quipped.

The locations of the two events are just half a mile away, Romney aides said that the candidate went early to the restaurant because volunteers who couldn’t squeeze in to the first event had gone there to wait for him.

Despite the crush of media anxiously awaiting what had been dubbed the "Ham House Showdown" by many, Romney and Gingrich were never at the diner at the same time, taking turns speaking to the crowd packed inside, many of whom had their breakfasts ruined by reporters stepping over tables to gain access to the candidates.

Romney took a jab at Gingrich during his speech to the patrons, remarking "If we think we need a Washington insider to run Washington there are a lot of people to choose from, but I'm the only guy who's spent his life in the real world I'm going to fight to put America back to work."

Climbing up on a chair to make his speech, Romney spoke without a microphone, telling the crowd that he couldn’t use the one set up in the restaurant — because it was Newt's.

"You guys this is an exciting time for us an exciting time for the nation you know they have a microphone but I didn't pay for it so all I can say is thank you look forward to seeing you on the trail let's go get 'em guys," said Romney, straining his voice to project.

Romney made his way around the restaurant – at one point climbing over a table to reach more voters waiting for autographs and photos – before leaving the restaurant.

Thirty minutes later, Gingrich arrived.

"Where's Mitt?" Gingrich asked. "I was hoping for a debate!"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Santorum Says Strategy Needed to Defeat Radical Islamists

ABC News(CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- Speaking before a crowd that included a number of cadets from the Citadel on Friday night, Rick Santorum warned that "radical Islamists" pose as great a threat to the Islamic world as they do to the United States, if not greater. He argued that the next president will have to take a more active role in working with people in countries such as Iran to help them combat the dangers inflicted by radical Islamists.

"There is an existential threat out there. It is a threat that has challenged Western civilization for 1300 years," Santorum said in a keynote speech at the Patriot Awards Dinner hosted by the Citadel's Republican Society. "In its most virulent form, it is back, and it is funded by oil. If we do not put together a strategy to defeat that radical element within the Islamic world that threatens the Islamic world more than it does even us. Look at the Iranians. I send a message all the time to the Iranian people. Hold on hold, continue to fight. We will help you."

Santorum stressed the strong leadership role the next president must take in helping those in countries he said are at risk of the terror inflicted by radical Islamists.

"We need to be a hope for them, not like what President Obama did three years ago and turn their back, his back on them when they were asking for our help."

Clad in his signature sweater vest embroidered with his name on it, Santorum joked about the campaign trail’s latest fashion accessory as many cadets sat in the audience wearing their dress uniforms.

"I am in my fatigues, not in my dress outfit tonight. We've just come off the campaign trail and this is the, this is the, you know my flak jacket if you will. My sweater vest," said Santorum.

At the end of the evening, Santorum received the Patriots Award, which was presented to him in the form of a giant rifle on a wooden plaque.

"That'll go in the Oval for sure!" said Santorum to loud applause and cheers as he admired the award. "Thank you all very, very much for this honor. I'm truly inspired and moved by it, and we'll get ready. We’ll arm, and we'll get ready and what a way to go into tomorrow's battle."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Is the US Primary System Flawed?

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- It’s the time of year when the battle between states for primary dates begins.

First, it was Florida that defied the rules of the Republican National Committee and announced it would hold its primary on Jan. 31.

Now, Nevada is joining the race by moving up its caucus to Jan. 14, a date that New Hampshire politicians fear could diminish their state’s influence.

Only four states -- New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, and Nevada -- are allowed by the national party committees to hold their primary or caucus before March 6, a tradition that began in the early 20th century.

But given the soft penalties, the rules have been increasingly broken in recent years, resulting in a catfight over which states should go first.

“It’s tradition. That’s really all that it amounts to,” said Larry Sabato Jr., political scientist and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “No one’s happy with the status quo. The amazing thing is that most people just shrug their shoulders and say nothing can be done...The parties don’t have the tools needed to really punish individual states.”

Supporters of the current system, however, argue that it forces candidates to put their boots on the ground and talk to real people, a connection that’s important to build credibility.

“I think the primary system, broadly speaking, works. It allows candidates to emerge. It allows the voters over time to measure and judge people. I think it is very important that it be a multi-month process,” 2012 contender Newt Gingrich said in 2008. “The current process both allows unusual candidates without great resources to emerge in Iowa and New Hampshire and, at the same time, it gives enough time to test everyone extensively.”

The early primaries bring influence and visibility to the states, and in some elections they have determined the course of the race. They can help a strong candidate like Mitt Romney, who is leading in the polls, gain more attention, but can hurt underdogs like Jon Huntsman, who are less visible.

The four states are hardly representative of the country, in general, when it comes to population and demographics, and critics say they get undue advantage. But there’s little impetus to change the system. Doing so would require a congressional mandate or a Constitutional amendment.

New Hampshire and Iowa are the first two states to hold a primary and caucus, a tradition that began in the early 20th century. Until 1972, the New Hampshire primary was held on the second Tuesday in March and it was followed by a flurry of primaries and caucuses until June.

But the system has been challenged recently as other states realize the monetary benefits of holding early primaries and the media attention that they garner.

That, in turn, has resulted in more early primaries. In 1972, the first primary was held in February. By 2004, that date had moved back to January.

For the first time ever, the New Hampshire primary could be held in December, which could translate into an even longer campaign season for candidates, an idea that Sabato dubs “absurd.”

“People should be interested in politics, but not every day of the year, not during the holiday season. It doesn’t serve the system. It doesn’t serve the parties,” he said.

Huntsman is boycotting the Las Vegas debate and is threatening to boycott the Nevada caucus because of the early schedule. Such a move would give an additional nudge to front-runners such as Romney and Cain.

But experts caution against lending too much credence to early primaries. After all, neither Bill Clinton nor Barack Obama won the New Hampshire primary and both nabbed the Democratic nomination and, eventually, the presidency. Republican presidential candidate John McCain placed fourth in the Iowa caucus in 2008, but he went on to nab the GOP nomination.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pawlenty Steps Up Ames Push With $200,000 Ad Buy

Scott Olson/Getty Images(AMES, Iowa) -- In an effort to boost his struggling campaign ahead of the Ames straw poll on Aug. 13, Tim Pawlenty has reserved around $200,000 of TV advertising in the Des Moines media market starting Monday and running through the straw poll, a source familiar with the ad buy told ABC News.

On Monday, Pawlenty starts a five-day RV swing through the Hawkeye State. The new ad purchase by the former Minnesota governor -- who has a lot riding on Ames -- is the biggest to date in the 2012 race. He had previously run TV ads in Iowa and this week launched a radio ad touting a video about his faith.

Earlier Friday, Pawlenty revealed that his campaign had raised a total of $4.45 million during the second quarter and entered the crucial upcoming stretch with $1.4 million cash on hand for the GOP primary.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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