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Apr 232012
 

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(SOUTH PARK TOWNSHIP, Pa.) — Mitt Romney made a last minute plea for votes Monday morning, urging a crowd in Pennsylvania to head to the polls on Tuesday and continue to work on his behalf over the summer.

“And so I come to you the day before a primary, asking for your help,” said Romney, speaking at a natural gas and coal energy company.  “I need you guys to go out and vote tomorrow.”

Pennsylvania, along with Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York will hold its Republican primary on Tuesday.

While Tuesday’s primary became less relevant after Romney’s former GOP rival Sen. Rick Santorum dropped out of the race earlier this month, Pennsylvania is set to be a swing state this fall.

“I’d like you to go out and vote in your primary and give me your support and show that we’re ready and willing to take on President Obama and then I want you to work over the summer to get your friends to think about voting, convince them that we need to have a president who understands the economy, who knows how to lead because he’s actually led before, who will go to work creating good jobs for the American people and will also go to work to make sure that the promise of America is kept,” Romney said.

“I need your help for Nov. 6. So you need to get your friends to vote,” said Romney.  “You need to pull them out.  Convince them to get on our team.  Come join us in this effort.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Apr 182012
 

Hemera/Thinkstock(DES MOINES, Iowa) — It was one of the logistical lowlights of the 2012 primary.

After a late night of vote counting, the Iowa GOP announced Mitt Romney as the caucuses’ tentative winner, having staved off Rick Santorum by a mere eight votes.

“The good news is we were able to verify the vote reports tonight,” then-chairman Matt Strawn said at a news conference, noting that Iowa’s 1,774 precincts would have two weeks to certify their vote tallies.

Two weeks later, the Iowa GOP announced that Santorum had won by 34 votes. Eight precincts, meanwhile, could not be certified, and a party official made it clear that the votes would never be counted. A week and a half later, Strawn resigned as party chairman.

The Iowa GOP has now set itself to the task of figuring out what happened and how to fix it next time, having formed an Iowa Caucus Review Committee comprised of 17 party members including county chairs, former state-party officials, party activists, volunteers and supporters of multiple presidential campaigns.

Next Thursday, the committee will convene its first meeting, where it will hear the first round of reports from subcommittees on vote tabulation, public information and volunteer training.

“The mistakes that were made were very fixable,” said Bill Schickel, the Iowa GOP co-chairman, who is chairing the committee to revisit caucus mishaps. Schickel and party officials already have some idea of what those mistakes were.

On caucus night, precinct volunteers phoned in results to an automated system after counting votes. When it came time to certify the ballots cast, affirming them on forms supplied by the state party, the caucus-night results did not match and the winner was reversed.

“We had redundancy built into the system, but probably not enough, and the committee will be closely examining that,” Schickel said. “Because we did not have redundancy in the system, and because volunteers were doing their patriotic duty of calling in results … I think maybe more of the focus was on that and less was on the follow-up paperwork. Obviously, both aspects of it were important.”

Schickel said the committee is consulting with Democrats, and that both parties are “united in our goal” of smooth-running caucuses. He also suggested the debacle of losing votes and prematurely announcing different results wasn’t so egregious when put in perspective.

“The good news is we had one of the largest turnouts ever in the Iowa caucuses, it was one of the closest elections in the history of the United States, we had 100 percent of precincts reporting on caucus night, and the final results had better than 99 percent reporting,” Schickel said. “And that’s a pretty good track record.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Apr 122012
 

ABC News (JOHNSTOWN, Pa.) — As redistricting pits Democrat against Democrat, Bill Clinton has given his seal of approval in a hotly contested House primary.

The former president gave his nod to Pennsylvania Rep. Mark Critz, who is locked in a primary contest against Rep. Jason Altmire, after the most recent legislative redistricting forced the colleagues to run for the same House seat.

“I am proud to endorse Mark Critz for Congress,” Clinton said, in a written statement released by Critz’s campaign.  ”I know that Mark will continue his work to create jobs, strengthen the middle class, to protect Social Security and Medicare, and do what is right for western Pennsylvania and our nation.”

At different points, Critz and Altmire were both Democratic success stories that drew national attention. Altmire was part of the lauded class of 2006 that recaptured the House majority; Critz won a highly touted special election in May of 2010, defeating Republican Tim Burns to replace the late Congressman John Murtha, despite a bad political climate for Democrats nationally and in swing districts.

Clinton campaigned for Critz in the run-up to that election, stumping for him at a single event the Sunday before.

Critz did not speak to Clinton personally before Thursday’s endorsement, according to spokesman Mike Mikus, though the candidate placed multiple calls to Clinton aides seeking the former president’s public backing.

Why would Clinton pick one moderate Democrat over another? It may have had something to do with Altmire’s vote in favor of a constitutional balanced-budget amendment, which Republicans sent to the House floor amid the debt-limit negotiations last year. The measure failed, needing a two-thirds majority for passage. Altmire was one of 25 Democrats to vote in favor.

The last time the House approved a balanced-budget amendment was in 1995, as the GOP-controlled, Newt-Gingrich-led House maneuvered against Clinton in a budget battle that eventually saw the federal government shut down, and which defined the early part of Clinton’s time in office.

Critz began airing a TV ad at 5 p.m. on Thursday highlighting Clinton’s endorsement, his campaign announced.

Last month, Clinton endorsed financier John Delaney in the Maryland House primary to challenge GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Apr 102012
 

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich may not appear on the ballot for the June 26 Utah primary, after a $500 check — the required filing fee — bounced, an official said.

State election director Mark Thomas told ABC News that a $500 check given by the Gingrich campaign to secure his place on the Utah ballot bounced on March 27.

“Our office immediately attempted to contact the campaign and the designated agent but no phone calls were returned,” Thomas said. “We also asked the state Republican Party to assist us, but they also could not get into communication with them, although I do not know how they attempted to contact them.”

One source close to the campaign told ABC News that the Gingrich campaign recently changed finance and accounting staff. The designated agent who filed the paperwork for the campaign was Wallace Woodruff “Woody” Hales, though Hales still works for the Gingrich campaign.

If the fee is not paid by April 20, Gingrich will be disqualified from the ballot.

“Our office certifies the candidates to the county clerks on April 24,” Thomas said.

The check bounce comes as no surprise as Gingrich confirmed a debt of almost $4.5 million to ABC News on Tuesday. The last Federal Election Commission report from February showed a debt of less than $2 million.

Gingrich told ABC News Tuesday that the debt increase was because the campaign got “very excited in Florida” after his South Carolina win.

“Romney spent $20 million in Florida in three weeks and I think some of our guys decided to try to match him and we didn’t have Wall Street,” Gingrich said. “I am going to spend some time paying it off. It is something I have done several times in my career.”

Gingrich said his campaign did “exactly what a conservative should do” who is in debt.

“We cut our expenses, we cut our staff, we are now in the process of paying it off but I think what happened is, they got really involved in the fight in Florida and didn’t stop and just say to themselves, ‘Wait a second.’ I can beat Mitt Romney in ideas, I can’t possibly compete with him in money,” Gingrich said.

On the day Rick Santorum suspended his campaign, Gingrich sent an email to supporters saying he was “the last conservative standing.” The campaign emailed to voters that the goal was to achieve 12,000 donations by midnight.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Apr 092012
 

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(BOSTON) — With Rick Santorum’s young daughter, Bella, in the hospital, Mitt Romney is yanking a negative television ad from the Pennsylvania airwaves “until further notice,” campaign officials said on Monday.

The ad, part of the Romney campaign’s plan to blanket Pennsylvania media markets ahead of the state’s April 24 primary, was originally meant to remind voters of Santorum’s landslide 2006 Senate re-election loss.

“We fired him as senator,” the ad’s narrator says.  “Why promote him to president?”

Instead, the Romney team has swapped in a positive ad in its place.

“We have done this out of deference to Sen. Santorum’s decision to suspend his campaign for personal family reasons,” Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement.  Saul said the campaign informed television stations to pull the ad Monday morning and that broadcasters would “comply with this request as soon as they are technically able.”

Santorum’s campaign announced on Friday that the former Pennsylvania senator’s 3-year-old daughter, Bella, had been hospitalized.  She suffers from a condition known as Trisomy 18, a genetic disorder that is often fatal.

Santorum is not scheduled to hold any public campaign events until Tuesday, but this weekend, his campaign said he would also be curtailing his private political schedule on Monday.

“Senator Santorum will not hold any campaign related events on Monday so that he and Karen can remain in the hospital with their daughter Bella,” communications director Hogan Gidley said in a statement.  “The entire Santorum family is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of prayers and support.”

The Romney campaign had already purchased TV airtime in the Keystone State — a buy totaling $1.9 million and spanning media markets from Philadelphia to Erie between Monday and April 22, two days before the state’s primary.  Santorum has indicated that the April 24 contest is a must-win for him.

Over the weekend, officials with the Santorum campaign said they did not plan to let Romney’s ad buy go unanswered.

“We’ll make an ad buy, no question about that,” Santorum’s national communications director Hogan Gidley told ABC News on Saturday, noting that although the campaign has yet to purchase any airtime, he fully expects they will do so “soon.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio