Obama, flush with cash, outspending Republican rivals

With Republicans locked in a contentious and expensive primary, President Barack Obama has spent a small fortune in recent months to build and maintain a campaign operation that is larger, more diverse and more focused on November’s general election than any of his opponents’ organizations. Republican contenders like Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have surely been watching their expenses during their primary elections: millions here for ad spending, millions there for travel, rallies and consulting fees. What’s left keeps the lights on, the phones ringing and the staff paid. But Obama, who faces no serious challenger for the Democratic nomination,
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Increasingly confident Romney enters mop-up phase

After a three-month struggle, Mitt Romney edged into the mop-up phase of the race for the Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday, buoyed by Newt Gingrich‘s decision to scale back his campaign to the vanishing point and Rick Santorum‘s statement that he would take the No. 2 spot on the party ticket in the fall. Romney campaigned by phone for support in next week’s Wisconsin primary while he shuttled from California to Texas on a fundraising trip, praising Gov. Scott Walker, for “trying to rein in the excesses that have permeated the public services union.” The governor faces a recall election
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Gingrich fires third of campaign staff, cuts back on schedule

With his struggling campaign strapped for cash and his failed message failing to resonate with even the GOP fringe, Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich is firing a third of his staff — including his campaign manager — and cutting back on his schedule. Campaign manager Michael Krull is gone, replaced by longtime advisor Vince Haley.  Sources tell Capitol Hill Blue Haley is working for expenses only. “The campaign is broke,” one campaign aide said. “We’re out of money and out of steam.” Gingrich dropped a hint early Tuesday that changes were coming, saying “money is very tight obviously.”  A few
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The GOP base: Stupid is as stupid does

In too many ways, the Republican Party deserves Rick Santorum. He’s tailor-made for the right-wing fanatics, Bible-thumpers and racists that dominate the party of the elephant. “As long as the GOP chooses to let the extreme right dominate its base it is doomed to find political failures like Rick Santorum,” longtime political activist Samuel Glasden told Capitol Hill Blue after Santorum cruised to an easy victory in Louisiana. Yet two other darlings of the GOP’s extreme fringe — former Speaker of the House and serial adulterer Newt Gingrich and former racist newsletter publisher Ron Paul — finished third and last
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Santorum cruises to expected win in Louisiana

Rick Santorum won the Louisiana Republican presidential primary Saturday, beating front-runner Mitt Romney in yet another conservative Southern state. “We’re still here. We’re still fighting. We still believe, as this race really shows,” Santorum told supporters in Green Bay, Wis. Although the victory gives Santorum bragging rights and 10 more delegates, it does not change the overall dynamics of the race; the former Pennsylvania senator still dramatically lags behind Romney in the hunt for delegates to the GOP’s summertime nominating convention. Even so, Santorum’s win underscores a pattern in the drawn-out race. The under-funded underdog has tended to win in
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Santorum looking for resurgence in Louisiana

Rick Santorum is looking to Louisiana for a much-needed rebound as Republican voters go to the polls Saturday in the state’s GOP primary. The former Pennsylvania senator is expected to do well in the contest, just a handful of days after a decisive loss to front-runner Mitt Romney in Illinois on Tuesday. A win over the former Massachusetts governor would serve as a reminder that Romney still struggles among the GOP’s conservative faithful, especially in the South. Santorum beat Romney in primaries in Alabama and Mississippi earlier this month. But Romney is outpacing Santorum in the race for critical delegates
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Environmentalists wonder: What are Republicans smoking?

Mitt Romney says President Barack Obama blocked construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline as a gift to environmentalists. Newt Gingrich calls Obama “President Algae” for supporting research on biofuels. And Rick Santorum says Obama’s environmental views constitute a “phony theology” that prioritizes the earth over people. The leading Republican presidential hopefuls have cast Obama as environmental extremist whose policies have put him out of touch with the needs of ordinary Americans. It’s a characterization that may resonate with GOP primary voters, but it has surprised environmental activists, many of whom say they are let down by Obama’s record on
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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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