SANTORUM IN EASTLAKE
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were about a half hour away from each other in Northeast Ohio Friday night. But you’d never have known it from Rick Santorum’s speech. He barely referenced his main GOP rival as he spoke for more than an hour to a sold-out crowd of Lake County Republicans. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports that Santorum chose instead to underscore his deep differences with President Obama.
Rick Santorum began his swing through Ohio Friday, the same day two new polls show he and Mitt Romney are in a virtual tie for the GOP presidential nomination. But he spoke as though he has just one rival: President Obama.
“In 2008, our elections were determined by a candidate who went out and promised that he could solve the problems that confronted America. All you had to do was trust him … but Americans are now a little more sober, and they now realize what we need is not a president we can believe in. We need a president who believes in you.“
Santorum also attacked attacked the healthcare overhaul as Public Enemy No. 1, and cited former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to make his case.
“She said the reason I was never able to turn Great Britain back from the brink of socialism, she said (was) people’s dependency on the British national healthcare system. :20
Santorum also attacked President Obama’s call for equal opportunity saying it’s a technology diven paternalism that’s damaging to America.
"We have resources and we have technology and we have all these things available now, and we’ll just make sure everyone is rewarded fairly. We’re not going to reward excellence. We’re not going to let people climb and achieve and succeed, no we’re going to punish those people, take their money and redistribute to others. That’s the attitude of this president.
Throughout the first half of his speech, Santorum focused on economics, including his proposal for a 17 percent corporate flat tax and his plan to ensure a quick end to the health care overhaul, which he called public enemy number 1 and a way to steer people toward socialism.
“Once they have your health, they’ve gotcha. That’s why they want it so badly.”
In one of his few direct references to Romney, Santorum said he would cut the budget deficit by 5 trillion dollars over five years – 10 times what Romney has proposed. And he compared Romney’s big-name donations to his own, more extensive list of small donors.
And the former Pennsylvania senator was unabashed in appealing to Ohio.
When Ohio wispers, people listen, when Ohio shouts, “We want a conservative, this country will stand up and join you.
The Quinnipiac and Ohio polls released Friday show Santorum and Ronmey in a statistical tie – and that a third of Ohio voters say they could change their minds before Tuesday.
Some of them were at Friday night’s dinner, including Ed Ely a first-time voter from Ohio. He’s split between Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
“I really like Santorum’s family values, but … is he really a fiscal conservative? I’m kind of hoping to get some reassurance tonight.”
Ohio is one of 10 states holding primaries Tuesday, and has 66 GOP delegates at stake.
ROMNEY IN CLEVELAND
At the same time GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s was headling the sold-out Lake County Republican annual dinner, Mitt Romney was in Cleveland shoring up his support for what’s expected to be a tight primary race on Super Tuesday. Bill Rice of Ohio Public Radio station WCPN was at the rally at Cleveland State University.
Romney opened his speech lamenting the absence of one of his best backers.
ROMNEY: “I am so sorry not to have Chris Christie here.”
That’s New Jersey Governor Christie, who was scheduled to appear with Romney.
ROMNEY: “Yeah, he wanted to be here, but the state troopers I guess told him that the weather was just too treacherous.
Taking Christie’s place on the stage was Romney’s wife Ann, who talked about the stakes in Tuesday’s election.
ANN ROMNEY: “Ohio is important, and Tuesday is an important day. It’s going to get us one step closer to defeating barack Obama. So we’re looking forward to that!”
Ohio is one of ten states holding primaries Tuesday, and is second behind Georgia in the number of convention delegates up for grabs. Romney tailored his speech to Ohio’s manufacturing and innovation prowess, promising to lower taxes and regulations on businesses while cutting their taxes. And he promised to level the playing field with nations like China, which he says routinely cheats when it comes to international trade.
ROMNEY: “If I’m president I will label china a currency manipulator and apply tariffs wherever we have to to stop them from unfair trade practices that kill jobs in Ohio and in America!”
Romney accused President Obama of breaking his promises to hold unemployment down and reduce the deficit during his first term, and of failing to shore up Medicare and Social Security.
ROMNEY: “Three years into his presidency, not one serious idea to make them solvent and make them permanently secure. This is a president who’s out of ideas. He’s out of excuses. “
And, with sleeves rolled up and wearing faded jeans, Romney made a concerted effort to cast off the trappings of wealth and privilege.
ROMNEY: “When you get to do what I do, and you meet average, ordinary citizens like ourselves, why then you get to see what’s at the heart and the core of the American people.”
Romney’s economic message went over big with the crowd of about 500, including Chris Boyle, and ardent supporter.
BOYLE: “He’s not a very savvy politician – everybody talks about how he’s not so great at speaking in front of these big crowds. That’s because he’s a businessman, and he knows how to run a business, make money, and I think he’ll do great for America on fiscal policy. And I also think he’s a strong leader and he will do well on foreign policy as well.”
Romney did not once mention his chief rival in the GOP primary – former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, whom he trails in Ohio by just a few percentage points in the latest Quinnipiac University poll.