Like many presidential election years, the Inland Northwest is becoming a stop on the campaign trail as the Washington and Idaho caucuses approach.
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul will be in Spokane Friday for a 7:30 p.m. rally at the Spokane Convention Center. His visit follows by just three days a stop in Coeur d’Alene by GOP rival Rick Santorum.
Mitt Romney is scheduled to visit Seattle on March 1, and a campaign source said he or a member of his family will likely be in Eastern Washington before the caucuses.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has no plans at this time for a campaign stop in the Northwest, but his Washington staff would like to have him visit both sides of the state before the caucuses. “Stay tuned,” said Lew Moore, a Gingrich campaign spokesman.
For Paul, Friday’s rally will represent almost a return engagement of his 2008 Spokane stop, when he spoke to an estimated crowd of 900 packed into a ballroom at the Doubletree Hotel. Paul supporters went on to dominate the Republican precinct caucuses in Spokane County that year. Paul finished first in Spokane County and third in the state overall, behind John McCain and Mike Huckabee in a tight three-way race.
Paul also picked up several local endorsements, including state Rep. Matt Shea and Spokane County Treasurer Rob Chase. Chase, like Paul, was once a Libertarian candidate; he became active in the Paul campaign in 2008 and was part of the Texas congressman’s delegation that helped shape the Spokane County GOP platform.
Shea, R-Spokane Valley, shares many of Paul’s views on states’ rights, limited government and less spending.
Shea was among legislators who met with GOP contender Rick Santorum on Monday, when the former Pennsylvania senator was in Olympia. Shea was complimentary but said he wasn’t endorsing Santorum. He thought the Valley’s 4th Legislative District would probably split between Santorum and Paul.