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Daily Santorum: Winning in Michigan

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Greetings from Michigan

The Santorum camp is laying it all on the line in Michigan and Ohio, and why not? If the blue collar pitch he's been using since standing on the steps of the Somerset courthouse is going to pay off anywhere, it has to be there. Here's the strategy, from Politico:

The privately held hope in the Santorum camp is that beating Romney in his native state of Michigan or in the ultimate general election battleground of Ohio would discredit, on a grand scale, the on-and-off Republican front-runner and make the other candidates in the race irrelevant in the remaining contests.

“If we can get it to a two-person race, I feel very confident that we will be the nominee,” said Santorum strategist John Brabender, who explained that the campaign is assessing where to play based on the number of delegates at stake and the cost of competing in each state.

So far, so good. He's leading Mitt Romney in Michigan 33-27% according to the American Research Group and getting an assist from the editors at National Review in that two-person strategy:

. . . On his own arguments the proper course for [Gingrich] now is to endorse Santorum and exit.

Santorum has been conducting himself rather impressively in his moments of triumph and avoiding characteristic temptations. He is doing his best to keep the press from dismissing him as merely a “social-issues candidate.” His recent remark that losing his Senate seat in 2006 taught him the importance of humility suggests an appealing self-awareness. And he has rightly identified the declining stability of middle-class families as a threat to the American experiment, even if his proposed solutions are poorly designed. But sensible policies, important as they are, are not the immediate challenge for his candidacy. Proving he can run a national campaign is.

A new PPP poll in Michigan has him up 15 points over Romney and beating him in every county except Oakland. Democrats and independents are helping the surge.

Santorum has been doing increasingly well in national polls too. And this is exactly the right time for him to seize that, given his other disadvantages, says the WashPost's Fix blog:

We’re getting to the point in the race where national polling matters more and more, because the next stretch of the campaign will be fought in basically one-quarter of the country.

Santorum’s campaign, while seeing an uptick in fundraising in recent days, is still the most meagerly funded of the campaigns that remain. He will still be outspent, and probably significantly so, in the next phase of the campaign, and he will probably be outmanned, too.

Now, if only there was an issue that could help Santorum seize more national attention. Perhaps if a governor somewhere who was signing a bill legalizing gay marriage in a state holding caucuses sometime soon . . . From the Seattle Times:
In his first foray [to Washington State] in advance of the state's March 3 GOP caucuses, Santorum is planning a 7 p.m. campaign rally Monday at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma, according to plans sent by his campaign to state Republican leaders.
Before that, Santorum will meet at an Olympia church with a group of "values voters" opposed to gay marriage. Santorum is also expected to meet with the state House and Senate Republican caucuses, said Kirby Wilbur, state GOP chairman.
For what it's worth, Santorum had Guinness and fish after Friday's CPAC speech. (WashPost)
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Altmire wins 1st faceoff with Critz

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Jason Altmire pounded fellow Democrat Mark Critz in their bid for the endorsement from the Allegheny County Democratic Committee yesterday, getting 122 votes to Critz's 63. Some 40 percent of the new 12th congressional district is in Allegheny County and it showed.

The campaign used the win to question how Critz can compete against his fellow incumbent April 24. Said the campaign: "The defeat comes as a devastating blow to the Critz campaign, which in recent weeks had conducted an unprecedented level of voter outreach, including at least four expensive campaign mailings and three "robocalls" from the candidate. The magnitude of Critz's defeat, especially given the resources spent by his campaign, raises questions as to his ability to break through to the more diverse electorate necessary to win the primary and general elections."

UPDATE: And here's Critz's response:

“We are very pleased to have done so well considering the fact that Jason Altmire has been working with the Committee six years, while we had just six weeks to campaign in Allegheny County," said Critz.  "Our strong showing demonstrates that once people get to know me, they realize that I have the strongest record of fighting to create jobs and fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare, while Jason Altmire supported the Republican Balanced Budget Amendment that would kill 15 million jobs and lead to devastating cuts to Social Security and Medicare.”

UPDATE: Here are the full tallies for contested races in the county:

12th Congressional: Altmire 122, Critz 63
14th Congressional: Doyle 920, Janis Brooks 71
20th House: Adam Ravenstahl 111, Mark Purcell 21
22nd House: Martin Michael Schmotzer 68, Robert Frank 45, Shawn Lunny 2
24th House: Ed Gainey 69, Joe Preston  38

Full Altmire statement after the jump:

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Welch: $1M in cash for GOP Senate run

Published by Tim McNulty on .

As expected, GOP U.S. Senate contender Steve Welch had about $1 million in the bank to start the year, enough to make him second in the Republican money race but well behind incumbent Democrat Bob Casey and fellow Republican Tom Smith.

Most of the contributions came though a $1 million loan the Chester County businessman made to his campaign, but he collected another $135,000 from other sources. Smith, a former Armstrong County coal company owner, also largely bankrolled his own GOP campaign to the tune of $4.25 million. (That left Smith with a bit more than Casey's $4.4 million in cash)

Welch -- endorsed by the Republican committee with the support of Gov. Tom Corbett -- was the last of the many, many candidates to file his year-end report, and below are the first four pages via the campaign.

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Gingrich does the standards

Published by James O'Toole on .

WASHINGTON - The lines, for the most part, weren't new, but, hey, everyone loves the Oldies.

Newt Gingrich killed with the CPAC crowd, winning repeated rounds of applause as he recycled tried and true -- or tried and arguable -- lines from his standard stump speech.

The crowd cheered as he promised "to abolish the death tax,'' to do away with the EPA, and, borrowing a plank from the Ron Paul platform, to audit the Federal Reserve. Rep. Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign doesn't need it anymore, so he appropriated one of her campaign promises in asserting that he would bring back $2-a-gallon gasoline.

Familiarity appeared to have bred enthusiastic concurrence with the crowd at the Wardman Park Marriott.

On a day when the White House was retreating on a proposed regulation that would have forced religious institutions to pay for insurance coverage for contraception, Mr. Gingrich declared that if President Obama is re-elected, "he will wage a war on the Catholic Church.''

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Obama camp files for Pa ballot

Published by Tim McNulty on .

In one of your lesser-watched Democratic primary races, Obama's campaign arm filed Pennsylvania nominating petitions with more than 35,000 signatures today, in advance of Tuesday's deadline.

Full statement from OFA-Pa after the jump: