Mitt Romney’s speech in Chicago today on the economy represents the Romney camp’s latest exhibition of simultaneous walking and gum-chewing.
Romney cleaned up in Puerto Rico, winning its 20 delegates over Rick Santorum, whose curious strategy was to try to play in a territory where he was a long shot while ignoring a state -- Illinois, whose primary is Tuesday --where the minimal efforts of Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul permit Santorum a cleaner shot at Romney.
Thus, Romney was taking care of business on the front end, the intraparty one. And in Chicago, he was addressing the perpetually delayed general election, where President Obama awaits.
“We once built the interstate highway system and the Hoover Dam,” Romney said. “Today, we can’t even build a pipeline.”
As the primary continues to crawl along, Romney’s ability to shoo away Santorum with the blocking and tackling of delegate accrual while keeping his message trained on Obama will determine how muscularly he can match up this fall.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Rick Santorum's Illinois Comedy of Errors NEW!
[The Atlantic, 3/19/12] Santorum's disorganization in Illinois is not only affecting his ability to run a successful campaign there -- it's also making Romney look good in a state that both candidates hope to win tomorrow.
How Santorum Helps Obama
[National Journal, 3/19/12] Is Santorum doing David Axelrod’s dirty work for him? He has seemed to read from the Obama adviser’s playbook of late, repeating a spate of criticisms aimed at Romney that bear a striking resemblance to attacks conceived in the White House. National Journal’s Alex Roarty weighs in.
Federal Contractors Donate to 'Super PAC' Backing Romney
[L.A. Times, 3/19/12] According to an L.A. Times report, at least five federal contractors gave a total of $890,000 to pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future in a move that has murky legality following the Supreme Court case that created super PACs.
Romney's Hollow "Latino Win" NEW!
[Washington Monthly, 3/19/12] Though he's claiming that his win in Puerto Rico means he can turn out Latino voters during the general election, Romney's claim is likely hollow -- Puerto Ricans are the Latino group least likely to vote based on immigration policy, where Romney's hardline views will likely turn off many Latinos.
Romney Touts Santorum 2008 Endorsement
[National Journal, 3/19/12] The Romney campaign is out with a new ad that shows Santorum endorsing his candidacy for president back in 2008. “If you want a conservative as the nominee for this party, you must vote for Mitt Romney,” the ad shows Santorum saying, with Romney behind him.
Santorum Accuses Romney of Pandering to Win Puerto Rico
[National Journal, 3/19/12] Santorum may have lost in Puerto Rico by a significant margin, but he came back with what can only be described as a scathing concession statement. His campaign says Romney “put political expedience and political deception ahead of previously held policy positions,” and accuses the former Massachusetts governor of switching positions on language policy and Puerto Rican statehood.
Rick Santorum Making Mitt Romney-Like Gaffes On The Trail NEW!
[Huffington Post, 3/19/12] Though dismissive comments about the health of the economy used to be Romney's purview, it seems that with statements like "I don't care what the unemployment rate is going to be," Santorum is encroaching on Romney gaffe territory.
Mitt Romney’s Defense Budget Target is Lofty
[Boston Globe, 3/19/12] The Boston Globe's Michael Kranish looks closely at Romney's claim that he'll devote four percent of the nation's GDP to defense and finds that, coupled with his promise to cut taxes and balance the budget, may be economically unfeasible.
Could This Be a Foreign Policy Election?
[Washington Post, 3/19/12] So far, the race to the White House has been dominated by economic and social issues, but with the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan dominating the news lately and concern over Iran growing, could this be a race dominated by foreign policy? If it is, Politico's Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman have looked and found the candidates' foreign policy plans hard to find.
Republican Catholics Cool So Far to Rick Santorum NEW!
[Associated Press, 3/18/12] Though he's been popular among evangelical Republicans, Santorum can't seem to gain a foothold with voters who share his own religion. Surprisingly, Mormon candidate Mitt Romney has performed better with that demographic.
Santorum Takes on Urban America
[New York Times, 3/19/12] Campaigning in recent days in Illinois and Missouri, Santorum has sought to motivate his followers by highlighting a divide between urban and rural America. And because many of the nation’s small towns are suffering economically, Santorum’s approach means he is taking on his own party.
Past Performance Indicates Future Results
[RedState, 3/18/12] In an op-ed for conservative website RedState, Rick Santorum graded opponent Mitt Romney on his economic record and suggests his own solutions to improve the economy.
Illinois Race Muddled by State GOP's Move Right
[Wall Street Journal, 3/18/12] Romney finds himself locked in a dogfight in Illinois with Santorum ahead of Tuesday’s primary, thanks in part to the rising influence of more-conservative Republicans in a state that once proved a reliable home for GOP centrists.
No Sparks for Romney in Illinois
[Politico, 3/19/12] Even as a state that seems a good fit to Romney’s brand of Republicanism, on primary eve Illinois remains in play, with Santorum seemingly within striking distance. Romney’s inability to lock down the GOP vote in the state is exemplified by former GOP Gov. Jim Edgar’s ambivalence toward him.
Santorum's Mystery Kitchen Cabinet: Who Advises Him Besides Himself? NEW!
[National Journal, 3/19/12] The Republican presidential candidate and his campaign have always touted their lean political operation, and the principle apparently applies to the policy side of his campaign as well. National Journal's Naureen Khan reports on Santorum's elusive advisors.
Romneys Court Women Put Off by Contraception Debate
[New York Times, 3/19/12] The Romney campaign is seeking to repair the political damage with women voters that advisers acknowledge has been inflicted by the GOP candidates’ rightward shift on immigration and social issues. Romney’s wife, Ann, has taken on a greater role as the campaign looks ahead to these independent voters.
Romney Revises Plans, Counts on Suburbs for Votes
[Chicago Daily Herald, 3/18/12] With Santorum close on his heels in Illinois, Romney returned to the Chicago suburbs on Sunday, revising an earlier strategy to more seriously court voters in a region that is considered to be his stronghold.
Ron Paul’s Campaign Aims to Collect Stray Delegates
[USA Today, 3/18/12] Paul’s presidential campaign strategy of targeting caucus states appears to have fallen flat. But with just one caucus state remaining, rather than withdraw, the campaign is trying to pick up stray delegates in states that have already held caucuses.
Santorum: Backing Specter 'Wasn’t One of My Prouder Moments'
[National Journal, 3/19/12] Santorum's support of former Sen. Arlen Specter's 1996 presidential run has been used by his opponents to attack him as moderate. Now, Santorum is trying to cut his losses. Santorum said his support for Specter, who ran on a pro-choice platform in 1996, "wasn't one of my prouder moments."
Is Romney the Most Unpopular Likely Nominee Ever?
[Daily Beast, 3/19/12] Since 1976, no serious contender, Democrat or Republican, has watched his favorable ratings fall as low as Romney’s have in recent months. At this rate, could Romney shape up to be the most unpopular presidential nominee on record?
Will Apathy Be Romney's Downfall in Illinois?
[The Atlantic, 3/19/12] It seems that very few Chicagoans are particularly interested in the primary race there. So will Romney be able turn out enough supporters to be successful in tomorrow's primary?
Romney's Top Fundraising Zip Codes NEW!
[Politico, 3/19/12] Palm Beach, Fla., tops the list of zip codes that gave the most to the Romney campaign through the end of January, but this year--in contrast to 2008--Manhattan also gave big to Romney.
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