Puerto Rico win pro­pels Rom­ney to Illi­nois

The Washington Times Daily - - Front Page - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN AND

VER­NON HILLS, ILL. | Af­ter trad­ing barbs with Rick San­to­rum on the air­waves Sun­day, Mitt Rom­ney got in the last word with a lop­sided vic­tory in Puerto Rico’s Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial pri­mary, tak­ing all 20 of the ter­ri­tory’s pledged Re­pub­li­can del­e­gates and ex­tend­ing his lead in the march to­ward the nom­i­na­tion.

Puerto Ri­can elec­tion of­fi­cials called the race early Sun­day evening, with Mr. Rom­ney re­ceiv­ing more than 80 per­cent of the vote.

Even be­fore the re­sults were an­nounced, the fo­cus of the Re­pub­li­can cam­paign al­ready had shifted to Tues­day’s pri­mary in Pres­i­dent Obama’s home state of Illi­nois, where Mr. Rom­ney touted his U.S. ter­ri­tory win as proof that his mes­sage is res­onat­ing with His­panic vot­ers — a key vot­ing bloc in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

“Peo­ple who don’t think that Lati­nos will vote for a Re­pub­li­can, need to take a look at Puerto Rico and see there that con­ser­va­tive prin­ci­ples and Latino vot­ers go to­gether,” he told a crowd gath­ered here in a com­mu­nity

cen­ter gym­na­sium for a town-hall event. “His­panic vot­ers are go­ing to vote for Repub­li­cans if we stand for some­thing: con­ser­va­tive prin­ci­ples that bring growth and good jobs and ris­ing home val­ues.”

“That is how we are go­ing to win. We’re go­ing to get Latino vot­ers to help us out,” he said.

The com­ments came to­ward the tail end of a day that saw Mr. Rom­ney and Mr. San­to­rum, the two Re­pub­li­can front-run­ners, con­tinue to rip each other apart on the tele­vi­sion talk-show cir­cuit and on the cam­paign trail.

Mr. Rom­ney, look­ing to ce­ment his lead in the polls here, made three cam­paign stops in Illi­nois, ham­mer­ing on the mes­sage that his busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence makes him the party’s “best and per­haps the only chance” to re­cap­ture to the White House.

He dis­missed both Mr. San­to­rum and Pres­i­dent Obama as “eco­nomic lightweights.”

“I don’t think we are go­ing to re­place an eco­nomic light­weight with an­other eco­nomic light­weight,” Mr. Rom­ney told a crowd at the Ma­chine Shed Res­tau­rant in Rock­ford. “My ca­reer was spent in the econ­omy. I didn’t learn about the econ­omy just read­ing about it or hear­ing about it at the fac­ulty lounge at Har­vard or de­bat­ing it in Congress.”

“To beat Barack Obama,” he said, “it is go­ing to take some­one who un­der­stands the econ­omy within his bones, and I do — and I will beat him with that un­der­stand­ing.”

Mr. San­to­rum, who is ex­pected back in Illi­nois on Mon­day for a final blitz ahead of Tues­day’s pri­mary, spent Sun­day cam­paign­ing in Louisiana and mak­ing the rounds on the tele­vi­sion talk-show cir­cuit, where he trained his fire on Mr. Rom­ney.

“Run­ning a busi­ness is not the same as be­ing pres­i­dent of the United States,” Mr. San­to­rum said in an ap­pear­ance on CNN’S “State of the Union.”

“If Gov. Rom­ney thinks he is the CEO of Amer­ica and can run and op­er­ate the coun­try, he doesn’t un­der­stand what con­ser­va­tives want,” Mr. San­to­rum said. “We don’t want some­one in Washington, D.C., to man­age the econ­omy. We want to get Washington out of our lives, to re­duce these man­dates, get rid of things like Rom­n­ey­care at the fed­eral level, which we call Oba­macare.”

The for­mer se­na­tor from Penn­syl­va­nia said a Rom­ney can­di­dacy would un­der­mine Repub­li­cans on the is­sues that helped pro­pel them into power in 2010.

“The same is­sues I’m out there cam­paign­ing on against Gov. Rom­ney are the same is­sues I’m go­ing to cam­paign against Barack Obama on,” Mr. San­to­rum said on ABC’S “This Week.”

“The gov­ern­ment over­reach in health care, and cap and trade, try­ing to con­trol the man­u­fac­tur­ing and en­ergy sec­tor of the econ­omy. ... Un­for­tu­nately, Gov. Rom­ney and Barack Obama are in the same place,” he said.

Mr. San­to­rum be­gan the day by say­ing he was in the race “for the long haul,” but he sidestepped the ques­tion of whether he would fight Mr. Rom­ney all the way to the Re­pub­li­can con­ven­tion in Au­gust.

Mr. Rom­ney, mean­while, told “Fox News Sun­day” that a win­ning Re­pub­li­can can­di­date can’t run a “shoe­string” cam­paign and ex­pect to beat the in­cum­bent pres­i­dent.

“In a cam­paign, one of the things you rec­og­nize from Day One, is that you need to or­ga­nize a fi­nan­cial op­er­a­tion to make sure you can run the cam­paign,” Mr. Rom­ney said.

The for­mer Mas­sachusetts gov­er­nor has not been shy about out­spend­ing his fel­low Re­pub­li­can chal­lengers. His cam­paign has raised about $63 mil­lion and spent about $55 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Fox News.

Mr. San­to­rum, how­ever, said Sun­day that Mr. Rom­ney’s in­abil­ity, de­spite his fundrais­ing prow­ess, to put away his GOP ri­vals for the nom­i­na­tion is a red flag.

“This is a pri­mary process where some­body had a huge ad­van­tage, huge money ad­van­tage, huge ad­van­tage of es­tab­lish­ment sup­port, and he hasn’t been able to close . . . even come close to clos­ing the deal. That tells you that there’s a real flaw

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