GOP establishment uniting to back Romney

The Republican establishment started to coalesce around Mitt Romney in earnest on Wednesday, with Jeb Bush and other leading Republicans pressuring Rick Santorum to leave the race after a thumping in the Illinois primary. But, on what should have been a triumphant day, Romney found himself having to defend his conservative credentials anew after one of his own top advisers, Eric Fehrnstrom, remarked that “everything changes” for the fall campaign. “It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch,” he said. “You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.” The remark fueled criticism that Romney molds his
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Grueling campaign leaves candidates exhausted, mistake-prone

It’s a good thing the GOP presidential race slows down from here: The candidates are even more tired than the voters. And, boy, does it show. Mitt Romney, who scaled back his public schedule this week to get a break, has slept in his own bed just twice since Christmas. Rick Santorum‘s been making the kind of flubs that come with exhaustion. Newt Gingrich got caught sleeping on camera a few weeks back, and looked like he just might topple over. And then there’s 76-year-old Ron Paul, last in the delegate hunt. The oldest candidate in the race, Paul is
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Romney sees Illinois win as turning point

Mitt Romney says he’s “almost there” in his six-year pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination after defeating Rick Santorum in the Illinois GOP primary. “Tonight’s win means we are that much closer to securing the nomination, uniting our party, and taking on President Obama,” the Republican front-runner wrote in a campaign email sent late Tuesday. He urged the party to fall in line behind his bid, saying, “We are almost there.” The former Massachusetts governor and his allies spent hundreds of thousands of dollars more than Santorum and his backers in Illinois, and it showed in the results: Romney was
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GOP primary circus: Endless campaign still looking for a winner

Mitt Romney‘s methodical accumulation of Republican delegates is no thing of beauty, and the public is reacting in kind. The 2012 presidential race thus far is drawing rather tepid interest despite high stakes that include pivotal decisions about the weak economy and the fate of President Barack Obama’s massive health care overhaul. Generally speaking, voter turnout, political fundraising and public curiosity are down compared with four years ago, when John McCain pulled away from Romney and others to secure the GOP nomination. Among Democrats, there’s no primary drama after a 2008 thriller that saw Obama battle Hillary Rodham Clinton through
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Romney scores key victory in Illinois primary

Mitt Romney won the Illinois Republican presidential primary Tuesday night, re-establishing himself as the frontrunner. Returns show Romney beating rival Rick Santorum easily.  With 63.66 percent of the votes counted, Romney leads with 47 percent to Santorum’s 35 percent.  Ron Paul is a distant third at 9 percent and Newt Gingrich breaks up the rear with 8 percent. News organizations, analyzing exit polls, declared Romney the winner before 9 p.m. EDT. “This puts Romney back in control,” a leading GOP consultant told Capitol Hill Blue Tuesday night.  “This could be the beginning of Santorum’s fade.” A dismal finish by former
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McCain: 2012 GOP primary ‘the nastiest’ ever

The Republican campaign to choose a candidate to take on President Barack Obama in November is “the nastiest” ever, presidential campaign veteran John McCain said Sunday. McCain should know — he was the target of a barrage of destructive rumors himself in his losing 2000 campaign against George Bush to become the Republican presidential candidate. In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he blamed the mudslinging on the so-called “super PACs,” which can raise and spend unlimited sums in support of a candidate so long as their campaign activities are not directly coordinated. “The super PACs have played a
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Romney creams Santorum in Puerto Rico primary

Mitt Romney scored an overwhelming win Sunday in Puerto Rico’s Republican presidential primary, trouncing chief rival Rick Santorum on the Caribbean island even as the two rivals looked ahead to more competitive contests this week in Illinois and Louisiana. The victory in the U.S. territory was so convincing that Romney, the GOP front-runner, won all 20 delegates to the national convention at stake because he prevailed with more than 50 percent of the vote. That padded his comfortable lead over Santorum in the race to amass the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Nevertheless, the GOP nomination fight is
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Final Georgia, Hawaii tallies add to Romney, Gingrich delegate totals

Heading into Sunday’s presidential primary in Puerto Rico, all four GOP hopefuls added delegates when results were finalized from contests that happened days ago. Mitt Romney added six delegates from Georgia’s March 6 primary and Newt Gingrich added five. In Hawaii, which voted last week, Ron Paul added two delegates and Rick Santorum added one. The Georgia GOP says the final tally is Gingrich with 52 delegates, Romney with 21 and Santorum with three. The Hawaii GOP says the final tally is Romney with nine delegates, Santorum with five and Paul with, three. Romney leads the overall race for delegates
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Mangling the facts on the campaign trail

Rick Santorum says oil drillers in the Gulf of Mexico are being slammed by “worse and worse and worse” delays in getting federal approval even as gas prices go through the roof. Actually, the wait for permits is getting better and better. Newt Gingrich boasts that small donors are powering his Republican presidential campaign. In reality, one deep-pocketed financial angel and other big money people have been doing loads of heavy lifting, too. The claims of the Republican presidential rivals are not getting the exposure they once did, ever since the crackling series of debates drew to a close. But
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From now on, it’s a Romney – Santorum fight for GOP nod

The plodding Republican presidential nomination fight is grinding forward toward Puerto Rico — and a two-man race, with Rick Santorum ascendant and Mitt Romney vanquished in the Deep South. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the former Georgia lawmaker whose Southern strategy stalled, was all but relegated to an asterisk in the contest even as he vowed to stay in it. “Now is the time to pull together,” Santorum declared to conservatives in Lafayette, La., after winning Tuesday’s primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, urging the party’s faithful to unite behind him to beat Romney. “We are campaigning everywhere there are delegates
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