Entries in Primaries (82)


Gingrich in the Race ‘Until Romney Gets Majority’

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(OSHKOSH, Wis.) -- Newt Gingrich vowed Friday to remain in the GOP presidential race until Mitt Romney “gets the majority” of the delegates.

Gingrich made the comment while working the rope line at the University of Wisconsin -- Oshkosh.

“I think we’re working until Romney gets the majority. In the meantime he has to earn the majority,” he said.  "I’m the only person in the race to pass a federal budget four times, and the only person to organize a national majority in 1994 and ’96. I think beating Obama is important.”

Asked what he and Romney discussed in their closed-door New Orleans meeting last Friday, Gingrich said: “Same thing I talked to Santorum about … beating Obama.”

Gingrich did not mention the recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in his address Friday.

His speech was the same he’s given the past three days at other colleges, about harnessing American innovation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Poll Finds Romney with Comfortable Lead in Wisconsin

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MILWAUKEE) -- Mitt Romney has erased Rick Santorum’s lead in Wisconsin a week before the state’s Republican presidential primary, surging to a comfortable margin, according to a new poll from Marquette Law School.

The poll shows Romney with 39 percent and Santorum at 31 percent. Ron Paul was at 11 percent in the state, and Newt Gingrich at five percent.

In late February, the previous poll by the school found Santorum with a huge advantage in the state: 34 percent to Romney’s 18 percent.

Romney’s boost has likely been helped by a huge influx of cash from his campaign and his super PAC, Restore Our Future. Romney and his allies have spent a combined total of $3.02 million on advertising in the state, according to a source tracking GOP media buys.

Santorum and his super PAC, Red White and Blue Fund, have spent considerably less -- $358,625, according to the same media tracking source.

There are 42 delegates at stake in Wisconsin’s primary, and they will be awarded on a winner-take-all scheme, raising the stakes for all the candidates.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mitt Romney Projected to Win Illinois Primary

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mitt Romney on Tuesday regained some of his footing as the leader of the Republican race for the presidential nomination, as he decisively beat Rick Santorum in the Illinois primary.

About an hour after the polls closed at 8 p.m. ET, Romney led his main rival by nearly double the number of votes, with almost one-third of precincts reporting. Exit polls showed voters siding with Romney on key issues like electability and empathy. ABC News projected Romney would win based on those polls and vote tallies that had been reported.

Exit polls also showed Romney winning thanks to two groups of voters: people in households with incomes of more than $100,000, and college graduates. He beat Santorum by 25 points among the first group and by 18 points among degree holders. 

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In a victory speech in Illinois just over an hour after polls closed, Romney called his win an "extraordinary victory." He also congratulated "my fellow candidates on a hard-fought contest here." That was the only mention of his opponents.

Romney's speech was fixated squarely on President Obama, particularly his background in Chicago, near the site of Romney's speech.

"For 25 years, I lived and breathed business and the economy and jobs," he said. "I had successes and failures. But each step of the way, I learned a little bit more about what makes our American system so powerful. You can't learn that teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago, all right? You can't even learn that as a community organizer. The simple truth is that this president doesn't understand the genius of America's economy or the secret of the American economic success story. The American economy is fueled by freedom."

Romney has won more states and more delegates than has any other candidate in the GOP primary, but he has struggled to sustain a narrative of an undisputed front-runner.

All of Romney's opponents have questioned his strength because of his apparent weakness with the conservatives who have voted in the primaries so far, and they have vowed to stay in the contest until the party's summer convention.

Even Romney's win in Illinois Tuesday night cost him. He and the super PAC supporting him outspent Santorum's forces by an eight-to-one margin on campaign advertising.

Santorum, who needed a significant showing in Illinois to prove that he can gain support in areas that aren't just socially and religiously conservative, told supporters in his home state of Pennsylvania that he was "going to win" central, western and "downstate" Illinois.

"We won the areas that conservatives and Republicans populate, and we're happy about that," Santorum said in his speech after Romney's. "We're happy about the delegates we're going to get, too."

Romney is set to win most of the 69 delegates at stake in Illinois. Santorum didn't even qualify for the ballot in four of the 18 congressional districts in the state, making him ineligible for 10 of those delegates.

After Santorum won a string of primaries in southern states by winning over social conservatives and religious voters, Romney's campaign has shifted its storyline to argue that the former Massachusetts governor is the only candidate who can mathematically win the nomination by getting 1,144 delegates. The other candidates, meanwhile, continue to insist that they are the only ones who can beat Obama in a general election.

Santorum took shots at Romney in his primary-night speech, arguing that "we don't need a manager" as president, alluding to the former governor's job at the private-equity firm Bain Capital.

"It's great to have Wall Street experience," he said. "I don't have Wall Street experience, but I have experience growing up in a small town in western Pennsylvania."

Exit polls from Illinois found that six in 10 voters, who were typically less ideological than Republicans in the states Romney has lost, said Romney had the best chance of beating Obama. The front-runner also led Santorum narrowly as the candidate who voters said understands their problems the best.

Romney, who told his supporters that Obama has prevented the country from leading the world in manufacturing and accused him of general American dream-crushing, said in his speech that "when we replace a law professor with a conservative businessman as president, that's going to end."

"The economy is struggling because the government is too big," he said. "Each day we move closer, not just to victory, but to a better America."

Romney needed to win big in Illinois to deny Santorum the momentum he has gained as he added southern states to his win column, most recently Alabama and Mississippi a week ago.

Gallup reported as Illinoisans voted that Romney's lead over Santorum nationally was 34 percent to 30 percent, though the former Pennsylvania senator is still the preferred choice among conservatives and Midwestern voters. That national measure has also swung back and forth like a heavy pendulum; in the middle of February, for example, Santorum led Romney by 10 points.

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


ANALYSIS: Doubts on Romney’s Conservatism Help Santorum in the South

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Voters unimpressed with Mitt Romney’s conservative credentials split between Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich in Alabama and Mississippi, leaning enough toward Santorum to give him a pair of wins -- but leaving Romney room for a respectable tally this far from his Belmont, Mass., estate.

Half the voters in both Southern primaries branded Romney as “not conservative enough.” If they’d only had one place to go, it might’ve been a Santorum or Gingrich romp. Instead, those voters divided between the two, by 44-39 percent in Alabama, 42-39 percent in Mississippi.

That was enough for Santorum to win in both states -- but perhaps by closer margins than he may have wanted, given his efforts to cement the evangelical and very conservative segments of the GOP vote. This was their home base.

If Gingrich took some of Santorum’s votes, Santorum lost them. A week earlier, in Tennessee, he thrashed Gingrich among voters who doubted Romney’s conservatism, 53-29 percent. This Tuesday, wins aside, the Santorum alternative lost some of that steam.

Alabama and Mississippi voters, indeed, looked highly desirous of a cloned candidate built on the most appealing aspects of each of the top three contenders. (Ron Paul, not so much.) For Santorum there was very broad support among voters looking for the “true conservative” and for “strong moral character” in a candidate, the latter an especially poor group for Gingrich.

Gingrich, in turn, won voters in both states focused on the candidate with the best experience to serve as president; experience, as in previous states, was weak for Santorum. Gingrich also ran well among voters who selected the federal budget deficit as the top issue in their vote.

Romney, meanwhile, earned his customarily high scores among the sizable number of voters in both states who were focused chiefly on the candidate best able to win in November. He again won wealthier voters. And he won non-evangelicals and moderates by wide enough margins to compensate, at least somewhat, for their small size.

But neither of these states was built for a Michigan-born Mormon candidate from Massachusetts. A vast 83 percent of GOP voters in Mississippi identified themselves as evangelicals, more than in any GOP primary this year or in 2008 alike. Thirty-one percent of them voted for Romney, about his average among evangelicals this year, though more than in other Southern states.

The rest divided between Santorum and Gingrich, 35-30 percent, rather than coalescing behind one or the other, as they did in Georgia and South Carolina for Gingrich; and Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan for Santorum. Romney’s 13- and 15-point leads vs. Gingrich and Santorum among non-evangelicals were enough to put him in the hunt in Mississippi.

Gingrich, for his part, did notably less well with women than men in both these states, a gender gap that has not been consistently present. Gingrich won men in Alabama, with 35 percent support, but did poorly enough with women (24 percent) for Santorum to take the state. In Mississippi, Gingrich trailed Romney and Santorum among women by 7 and 8 points, respectively. The thrice-married Gingrich looked especially weak among married women.

For Santorum, it was the religiously inspired vote that loomed large. Forty-five percent of Alabama voters said it mattered a great deal that they support a candidate who shares their religious beliefs; this group went overwhelmingly to Santorum, giving him 47 percent of their votes. In Mississippi, the group was equally large, and Santorum won 42 percent.

The challenge for Santorum is his comparatively weak results outside his core of very conservative, evangelical, religion-focused, anti-abortion voters. This Tuesday those groups were abundant. In Illinois next Tuesday, by contrast, 2008 exit poll data suggest evangelicals may be only half as numerous there as they were in Alabama and Mississippi.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gingrich Says He Has ‘No Reason to Get Out of the Race’

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich told ABC News that he has “no reason to get out of the race for Mitt Romney” and that him staying in the race would not be bad for the Republican Party, but rather “bad for Mitt Romney.”

“Yeah, I understand it. Everyone in the Republican establishment wants Romney and they’d like everyone else to go home,” Gingrich told ABC News’ Jon Karl in an interview Tuesday. “They’d like to have a coronation, but that’s not how this is done.”

Though Rick Santorum was the projected winner of the primaries in both Mississippi and Alabama Tuesday night, Gingrich’s spokesman R.C. Hammond told ABC News there was a “zero-percent” chance Gingrich would suspend his candidacy.

Gingrich said his expectation was to be in Tampa and have an open convention, and that taking the nominating process all the way to the convention would be “good for America.” Gingrich said that he and Santorum staying in the race would be helping conservatives because “Santorum and I are stopping Romney.”

Gingrich said that keeping the process going wouldn’t be “doom” for the Republican Party as Romney suggested.

The Gingrich campaign sent out a memo earlier in the day stating that the race for delegates was far from over and called Louisiana on March 24 “halftime.”

“The sequencing and pace of the second half favors Newt. When this process started, Newt’s team had two goals: block an early Romney nomination; and plan for a sequenced and paced second half,” the memo stated.

Gingrich said that despite Romney’s spending in the primary states so far, Romney is still unable to carry the votes necessary to secure the nomination.

“If Romney put in $40 million of his own money and ran for six years and has outspent the rest of us by enormous margins, and he can’t close the deal why would you think he can beat Obama,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich told ABC News he believes he can still win the nomination.

“I’ve been doing this for a very long time,” he said. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think I could still win. I have too many fun things to do in my life if it was hopeless.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mitt Romney and Allies Poised for Multi-Million-Dollar Illinois TV Blitz

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- The ink is not yet dry on Tuesday’s Southern primaries, but the candidates are already gearing up for battle in two of the month’s remaining contests: Illinois and Louisiana.

With recent polls showing Mitt Romney locked in a closer-than-expected race with Rick Santorum in Illinois, Romney’s campaign is buying up airtime ahead of the state’s March 20 primary -- to the tune of nearly $1 million.

The Romney campaign has reserved more than $800,000 worth of TV ad time on local broadcast channels, focusing on Chicago with smaller buys in the Springfield, Peoria and Rockford markets. The campaign is spending another $134,000 on cable ad purchases throughout the state, according to a Republican media buyer tracking the spending.

Romney is getting a big assist from the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, which has already purchased more than $900,000 worth of airtime, according to Federal Election Commission filings. And sources tracking ad buys indicate the super PAC has bought up as much as $1.5 million more in TV time in just the last week. More than half of that is being spent in the greater Chicago area.

That means pro-Romney forces could wind up spending well over $3 million -- and perhaps more -- in Illinois.

A recent Chicago Tribune-WGN poll found Romney leading Santorum in the state, 35 percent to 31 percent.

Romney will be campaigning there before next Tuesday’s primary. He is slated to attend a fundraiser in Peoria with Congressman Aaron Schock. And two Romney supporters -- former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, chairman of Romney’s Illinois campaign -- are doing a statewide fly-around on Wednesday.

Illinois is an expensive state for television advertising, and neither the Santorum campaign nor the pro-Santorum super PAC have yet to make any ad buys there. Instead, Santorum’s team has invested a modest amount -- just over $30,000 -- on the airwaves in Louisiana, which holds its primary on March 24.

The cable buy is about evenly split between New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Monroe, Louisiana.

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

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