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Entries in Primaries (82)

Monday
Mar122012

Santorum on the "Imaginary World of Mitt Romney’s Ideology"

ABC/ Fred Watkins(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- Rick Santorum lashed out at Mitt Romney as “sad,” “desperate” and living in an “imaginary world” for suggesting he is too liberal to be Romney’s running mate, should the former Massachusetts governor become the Republican presidential nominee.

“I’m too liberal?” Santorum said in an interview with ABC News. “This is the imaginary world of Mitt Romney’s ideology. It’s just sad.”

Calling Romney “one of the most liberal records ever to run in the post-Reagan era for president,” Santorum said, “If I am too liberal to be Mitt Romney’s running mate, oh my goodness. That just tells you how desperate he is.”

Santorum was referring to an interview Romney did Monday with Neil Cavuto on Fox News. Cavuto asked Romney whether he would have to pick a running mate more conservative than he is to satisfy Republicans who think he is too moderate.

“That would preclude, of course, Rick Santorum,” Romney told Cavuto. “Rick Santorum is not a person who is an economic conservative to my right.”

Romney added: “I give him credit for being a conservative, but not a fiscal conservative. His record suggests that he does not have the fiscal conservative chops that I have.”

Romney also told Cavuto that a drawn-out nomination battle that went all the way to the Republican convention in August would doom the party’s chances of beating Barack Obama.

“If we go all the way to the convention, we would signal our doom in terms of replacing President Obama,” Romney said.

It would take a miracle for Santorum to win the nomination, Romney said.

“If he is able to pull off a miracle, so be it, he’ll be the nominee,” Romney said. “You’re going to see me getting the delegates I need to become the nominee and we sure as heck aren’t going to go to the convention all the way to the end of August to select a nominee.”

Asked about that, Santorum told ABC News: “You know, maybe he should start making the case for why he should be elected as opposed to playing all these math and convention games.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar082012

Rick Santorum: Campaign Is ‘Burning Through Our Savings’

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(PELHAM, Ala.) -- Rick Santorum asked a crowd in Alabama to deliver him a win in the state Tuesday and pitched to them he’s a better choice than either of his opponents because of his working class background and blue-collar roots.

“I’ve basically given up all my sources of income almost a year ago. We’re burning through our savings,” Santorum said to the enthusiastic crowd at a conference center. “People say, ‘Well did you ever think you’d get this long and have to worry about all the bills you’d have to pay? Well, I was praying I’d get this long, now I have to pray we can somehow or another stretch the budget a little bit more.”

He continued the theme of a candidate who is more in touch with his supporters and the electorate because he doesn’t have the fortune of his opponents or other politicians. “We need a candidate who can go out and deliver a message when it comes to energy who maybe doesn’t own oil wells, but his grandfather was a coal miner so I was in the energy industry too,” Santorum said to the crowd of about 200. It wasn’t clear who he was referring to -- perhaps former President George W. Bush, whose family was in the oil business -- or if he was just trying to portray himself as the hardscrabble underdog to Mitt Romney’s wealth. The campaign did not return requests for clarification. According to his tax returns, Santorum made about one million dollars last year.

Despite the former Pennsylvania senator’s need for Newt Gingrich to abandon his bid -- an aide to the former House speaker said this week Mississippi and Alabama were must-wins -- he hardly mentioned Gingrich and focused almost completely on President Barack Obama and Romney.

He told voters they need a nominee “who can go out in the general election and not just spend millions and millions of dollars trying to beat up the other person” and even insinuated the press favored the former Massachusetts governor because he will not be able to defeat Obama.

“Every time we’ve nominated a moderate in the last 30 or 40 years, we lost. Every time so now you know why the media’s for him,” Santorum said, referring to Romney. “They don’t want him to win. You know who they want to win.”

Santorum’s super PAC, “The Red, White, and Blue Fund,” announced Thursday they were running a negative ad jabbing both Romney and Gingrich in Mississippi and Alabama. They also called for Gingrich to get out of the race Wednesday to try and consolidate the more conservative electorate around one of the GOP candidates. The fund says the ad buy is “well over half a million dollars.”

If Santorum beats Gingrich here and in Mississippi, it could very well be a fatal blow to the speaker’s candidacy, although Gingrich has stressed he is going all the way to the convention. “If you elect, here in Alabama, and I’ll tell you what, a conservative will be nominated by the Republican party in the next few months. And if a conservative is nominated, we will win the general election,” Santorum said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar082012

Pro-Romney Super PAC Spends Big in Ill., La., Miss. and Ala.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- If you’re a voter in an upcoming primary state, chances are you’ll see a lot of pro-Romney super PAC ads.

On Wednesday, the Romney-backing super PAC Restore Our Future reported big purchases of TV time in Tuesday’s primary states of Mississippi and Alabama, as well as Illinois and Louisiana, which hold primaries on March 20 and March 24, respectively.

It was once unthinkable, according to conventional wisdom, that the Republican primary would stay competitive long enough for a heated battle over the heavily Democratic Illinois. However, Restore Our Future is spending more money there than in any other upcoming state -- likely because ads in the Chicago media market are expensive.

Restore Our Future reported new spending of $901,438 in Illinois, $425,165 in Louisiana, $680,385 in Alabama, and $581,183 in Mississippi.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar082012

Romney Needs 47 Percent of Remaining Delegates

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney won six of the 10 states up for grabs on Super Tuesday and built a commanding lead among delegates who will officially select the party’s nominee at this summer’s convention in Tampa, Fla.

In total, Romney won 217 delegates on Tuesday -- almost half the total 437 at stake, and more than his competitors combined.

But the former Massachusetts governor is not yet a sure thing for the nomination and he must win 47 percent of the remaining delegates before he can rightly be called the presumptive nominee.  The math of the GOP nomination lays groundwork for a delegate fight that could extend well into the summer and even potentially leave Romney without the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

Romney scored victories in Virginia, Vermont, Ohio, Idaho, Alaska and Massachusetts on Tuesday.  Rick Santorum emerged the victor in Oklahoma, North Dakota and Tennessee, while Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia and Ron Paul came up empty-handed, again.

Romney now leads all candidates with 401 delegates, according to the latest ABC News estimate.  Rick Santorum follows with 177, and Newt Gingrich, 106, and Ron Paul, 45, trail behind.

There are a total of 2,286 delegates up for grabs during the primary and 729 have already been estimated -- about 31 percent.  That leaves 1,557 outstanding delegates. Romney will have to win 743 or 47 percent to reach 1,144.

The calendar could present Romney with some problems.  The next contests focus on the South, where he is thought to be weak against Santorum.  And the main delegate prizes are more than a month away.  New York holds its primary in late April, Texas is likely to hold its primary in late May, and California Republicans do not vote until June.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar072012

Santorum Pushes Hard for Kansas; Won’t Call on Gingrich to Quit Race

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(LENEXA, Kan.) -- Rick Santorum, fresh off a strong Super Tuesday, told reporters in Kansas that though he “wanted” Newt Gingrich out of the race, his supporters, not he, had called on the former speaker to drop out.

“I’m not saying I don’t want him to get out. If he wants to get out, I’m all for him getting out. I’m for Mitt Romney getting out. I wish President Obama would just hand me the thing, but that’s not going to happen,” he said.

The pro-Santorum PAC Red, White & Blue Wednesday morning called on Gingrich to leave the race so that the conservative-leaning candidates would stop splitting votes.

Santorum, however, insisted he had not coordinated with the group, calling on Gingrich to quit.

“If they’re doing so, they’re not doing so at my knowledge, let’s just put it that way. I’ve been very, very clear about my position on this,” he said.

Santorum accused the Romney campaign of bullying him for saying it would take an “act of God” for him to clinch the nomination.

“What won’t they resort to to try to bully their way through this race? If the guy thinks he’s now ordained by God to win, then let’s just have it out.”

Santorum hopes conservative Kansas next week will continue to add to his delegate count. Newt Gingrich announced Wednesday he would not compete in Kansas, and Mitt Romney canceled an appearance he planned in the state for Thursday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar072012

Analysis: Romney Wins the Night, But Not the Momentum

ABC NewsANALYSIS
by Amy Walter

(WASHINGTON) -- It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t impressive, but Mitt Romney came out a winner Tuesday night.

He came into Super Tuesday with one significant goal: winning Ohio.  And, it appears that he did -- albeit by a narrower margin than he had wanted.

Romney won the most delegates and won more states than anyone else.  Along with the apparent win in Ohio, Romney took the states of Massachusetts, Virginia, Vermont, Idaho and Alaska.

And while he didn’t win over the hearts of GOP voters, Romney won their heads.

As ABC News’ Gary Langer noted: “In all seven states holding primaries Tuesday night combined, 61 percent of voters picked either electability or experience as the top attribute they were looking for in a candidate -- and 51 percent of them supported Romney.  His challenge is that a sizable remaining chunk of the GOP electorate -- 36 percent across these seven states -- picked a different attribute as more important -- either the candidate with ‘strong moral character’ or the ‘true conservative.’  And among these true believers, Romney’s support plummeted to just 17 percent.  Forty-six percent instead voted for [Rick] Santorum, 20 percent [Ron] Paul, 16 percent [Newt] Gingrich.”

But, while Romney desperately wants to close the book on the 2012 GOP primary, his opponents are ready to simply start another chapter.

Santorum may have come up short in Ohio, but he’s likely to rack up wins next week in Kansas, Alabama, and Mississippi.  All three states have an electoral make-up that looks much more like Tennessee and Oklahoma -- two states Santorum easily carried Tuesday night -- than they do Ohio or Massachusetts.

So, while it is all but impossible for Santorum to win enough delegates to win the nomination outright, he will be able to continue to rack up victories in a number of primary and caucus states this month.

In fact, it’s not until April 3 when the states with the demographic profile more suited for Romney -- like Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, and DC -- get to vote.

So, the slog continues.  Romney continues to grind away at building his delegate lead while trying to ensure that the prolonged primary contest doesn’t continue to grind down his already weak approval ratings among the voters he needs this fall.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar062012

Santorum Wins in Tenn., Okla., N.D.; Ohio Still Too Tight to Call

Whitney Curtis/Getty Images(STEUBENVILLE, Ohio) -- While Mitt Romney has won four Super Tuesday contests and Rick Santorum has won three so far, all eyes are fixed on a close race in Ohio, where the two are locked in a tight race.

The contest in Ohio, where polls closed at 7:30 p.m. ET, was too close to predict a winner based on exit polls.

Romney won handily in Virginia, where he was the only candidate on the ballot aside from Ron Paul; in Massachusetts, the state he governed; and in Vermont, which neighbors the Bay State. He also won the Idaho caucuses.

Santorum triumphed in Tennessee, a southern state in which his conservative message has resonated, and in Oklahoma, the reddest state in the union. In both states, voters who called themselves religious and very conservative lifted Santorum over Romney, who has struggled for months to persuade the right wing of the party that he's right for them. He also won the caucuses in North Dakota.

"We have won in the West, the Midwest and the South, and we're ready to win across this country," Santorum told enthusiastic supporters in Ohio as the vote there was being counted.

The former Pennsylvania senator added, excitedly: "In every case, we overcame the odds. Here in Ohio, still too close to call."

ABC News also projects that, as expected, Newt Gingrich will win the only Super Tuesday state to which he gave attention -- his home state of Georgia, which he represented as a member of Congress.

In a victory speech in Atlanta, Gingrich called himself the "tortoise" who will win the nomination and mocked the attention given to Santorum after the ex-senator won three primaries in states that the other candidates had mostly ignored.

"The news media, once again, desperate to prove Gingrich was wrong, suddenly said, 'Ah, now we have the person who's going to be the non-Romney,' " Gingrich said.

Making his pitch to his supporters, Gingrich called himself "the one candidate who can debate Barack Obama," drawing on one of his noteworthy strengths that has been evident in the nearly two dozen GOP primary debates.

The most contested and watched vote is in the swing state of Ohio, where Santorum led in the polls until just a few days ago. Now the race is as good as a tie, and the winner there will most likely be deemed the winner of Super Tuesday expectations.

Exit polls found that more than half of voters said Romney was the candidate most fit to beat President Obama. But when asked which candidate "best understands the problems of average Americans," fewer than one-quarter of voters picked Romney. About one-third chose Santorum in that category.

The candidates are fighting for 437 delegates just Tuesday, more than all the delegates that have been won already. Romney is in the lead with 203, and Santorum is in a solid second place with 92. The race ends once a candidate gets 1,144.

Georgia offers the most delegates in Tuesday's voting with 76. Other big states are Ohio (66), Tennessee (58), Virginia (49) and Oklahoma (43). Three other states voting in caucuses Tuesday award fewer -- Idaho, North Dakota and Alaska.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar062012

Mitt Romney Wins Va., Mass., Vt., Idaho; Tight Race in Ohio

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Mitt Romney has won four Super Tuesday contests so far, but all eyes are fixed on a close race in Ohio, where Romney was locked in a tight race with his main rival, Rick Santorum.

The race in Ohio, where polls closed at 7:30 p.m. ET, was too tight to predict a winner based on exit polls.

Romney won handily in Virginia, where he was the only candidate on the ballot aside from Ron Paul; in Massachusetts, the state he governed; and in Vermont, which neighbors the Bay State. He also won the Idaho caucuses.

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Santorum triumphed in Tennessee, a southern state in which his conservative message has resonated, and in Oklahoma, the reddest state in the union. In both states, voters who called themselves religious and very conservative lifted Santorum over Romney, who has struggled for months to persuade the right wing of the party that he's right for them. He also won the caucuses in North Dakota.

ABC News also projects that, as expected, Newt Gingrich will win the only Super Tuesday state to which he gave attention -- his home state of Georgia, which he represented as a member of Congress.

As voters in 10 states made their picks for the Republican nomination, Romney was working to write the final chapter of the primary season on the biggest single day of contests in the race.

Romney, wearing the crown of official front-runner after recent wins in Michigan, Arizona and Washington, has been battling for the nomination for longer than it once seemed he would be. His main rival, Rick Santorum, emerged from nowhere first in Iowa and then in a string of states last month as the "conservative alternative" to Romney.

The speech that Romney plans to give to supporters in Boston focuses not on his Republican opponents but on President Obama, at least according to the prepared text obtained by ABC News. He will say that his Super Tuesday successes are "one more step toward restoring the promise of America" and that the contest will go on "day by day, step by step, door to door, heart to heart."

"To the millions of Americans who look around and can only see jobs they can't get and bills they can't pay, I have a message: You have not failed. This president has failed you," Romney plans to say.

Paul was the first candidate of the night to speak. He told his supporters in Fargo, N.D., hours before polls closed that "the rest of the candidates represent the status quo."

Hundreds of miles away, Santorum led Romney in polls in Tennessee, a southern state in which his conservative message has resonated.

While Santorum has been successful in riding occasional crests of momentum, "Super Tuesday" is more about the number of delegates who will be awarded to the candidates, and Romney appeared poised to be in the best position after the dust settles.

The most contested and watched vote is in the swing state of Ohio, where Santorum led in the polls until just a few days ago. Now the race is as good as a tie, and the winner there will most likely be deemed the winner of Super Tuesday expectations.

Exit polls showed that more than half of voters said Romney was the candidate most fit to beat President Obama. But when asked which candidate "best understands the problems of average Americans," fewer than one-quarter of voters picked Romney. About one-third chose Santorum in that category.

The candidates are fighting for 437 delegates just Tuesday, more than all the delegates that have been won already. Romney is in the lead with 203, and Santorum is in a solid second place with 92. The race ends once a candidate gets 1,144.

Georgia offers the most delegates in Tuesday's voting with 76. Other big states are Ohio (66), Tennessee (58), Virginia (49) and Oklahoma (43). Three other states voting in caucuses Tuesday award fewer -- Idaho, North Dakota and Alaska.

Making a rare cameo on the Super Tuesday stage was President Obama, who called his first press conference of the year Tuesday afternoon, perhaps not by coincidence.

Asked vaguely to opine on Romney and the happenings within the GOP Tuesday, Obama gave his shortest answer: "Good luck tonight."

He added: "Really."

The nomination battle is unlikely to actually end after the votes are all counted by Wednesday morning, but Romney is expected to be in better position with a comfortable lead in delegates.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar062012

Super Tuesday: The 10-State Voting Extravaganza

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mitt Romney is in a solid position heading into Super Tuesday, poised to win at least four states by wide margins.

In Idaho, Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia, Romney is expected to gather large swaths of the vote, setting up high expectations in the 10 Super Tuesday contests, leaving Ohio as the battleground that could make or break his evening.

But how will Romney fare in the logistical battle for delegates, the "real" measure of which candidate has edged closer to the nomination?

In theory, Romney should be able to win between 215 and 250 delegates on Tuesday -- about half of the 437 at stake, and more than any other single candidate.  But that's more of a guess than a hard prediction.

The Republican Party's tangled delegate system allows each state to devise its own rules, and all those rules differ from one another in subtle or radical ways.  To accurately predict who will win which delegates where, one has to know how each congressional district will vote, whether certain candidates will meet 15 percent or 20 percent thresholds in districts and states, and whether some states will become winner-take-all if enough votes go to the leader.

Not all of the 437 Super Tuesday delegates will be "awarded," as most states will send three party officials to the national convention as unbound delegates.

A candidate will need 1,144 delegates to win the nomination.  Romney currently leads with 184 delegates, according to the latest ABC News delegate estimate.  Rick Santorum (91), Newt Gingrich (30) and Ron Paul (23) follow.

Those numbers include ABC's projections of how unbound and not-yet-selected caucus-state delegates will vote.  Strictly in terms of delegates who have already been awarded, Romney (118) still leads, with Gingrich (29), Santorum (17) and Paul (8) following.

If no candidate reaches 1,144 delegates by August, Republicans will decide their nominee on the floor of their national convention in Tampa, Fla. 

Here are the delegates at stake in the 10 contests being held on Super Tuesday:

1. Georgia (Primary), 76 delegates
2. Ohio (Primary), 66 delegates
3. Tennessee (Primary), 58 delegates
4. Virginia (Primary), 49 delegates
5. Oklahoma (Primary), 43 delegates
6. Massachusetts (Primary), 41 delegates
7. Idaho (Caucus), 32 delegates
8. North Dakota (Caucus), 28 delegates
9. Alaska (Caucus), 27 delegates
10. Vermont (Primary), 17 delegates

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar052012

Gingrich Says Romney Won’t Be the Nominee If He Can’t Win the South

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.) -- On the eve of Super Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich spent the day flying around Tennessee hoping for a victory in the state as well as in his home state of Georgia.

At the last event of the day, Gingrich was asked about Mitt Romney’s ability to win southern states.

“Either he’ll figure out how to win the South or he won’t be the nominee,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich said he sees the margin narrowing in Tennessee and believes in Georgia he’ll win by an even larger margin than Romney won his home state.

Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond told ABC News that the Republican primary is finally traveling to the “heart and soul of our party,” where he believes the negative ads don’t have the same effect.

Gingrich hit Romney throughout the day for suggesting he was pandering to voters for pushing a $2.50 gas price promise. In several interviews, Gingrich suggested Romney could not relate to the issue of high gas prices because of his wealth.

“One of my competitors, Gov. Romney, yesterday said I was pandering. He said nobody can -- nobody knows you’d be at $2.50,” Gingrich said. “Well let me say up front, of course nobody knows you’d be at $2.50, but there’s this thing called setting goals. It’s called -- it’s not called pandering, it’s called leadership.”

Usually willing to comment on the news of the day from Washington, D.C., Gingrich was critical of Sen. John McCain’s call in the Senate for U.S. intervention in Syria.

“We shouldn’t further over extend our military in the Middle East,” Gingrich told ABC News.

Gingrich plans to spend Super Tuesday campaigning in Georgia and Huntsville, Ala., and expects to finish the night as results come in at his watch party in Atlanta.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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