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Early Going: Newt Wins 1, Mitt 3

As results trickle in for Super Tuesday's nominating contests, CBS News projects presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (silhouetted in AP photo today in Alabama) will win the Republican primary in his home state of Georgia, clinching his first primary victory since South Carolina's January 21 primary contest. CBS News also projects Mitt Romney will win in Virginia, Massachusetts and Vermont.  Polls closed at 7:30 in Ohio. Based on exit polls, CBS News estimates a close race between Romney and Santorum. With polls closed in Tennessee, CBS News projects former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has a small lead, with Romney and Gingrich trailing behind. In Oklahoma, CBS News projects Santorum is leading/CBS News. More here.

Question: Who will be the biggest winner/loser when the night is over?

Johnson: Paul Comfy In His Own Skin

The conventional wisdom holds that Paul must win somewhere – and fast – or risk running out of steam as the primary campaign grinds on. He would seem to have a far shot in three states with a GOP caucus today – North Dakota, Alaska and Idaho. The Idaho GOP establishment is aligned with Mitt Romney and the state’s sizeable Mormon population is almost certain to give him an advantage, but – a big but – the insurgent wing of the Idaho GOP, the group that has come to dominate a good deal of the party’s business, is entirely capable of sending Romney and his Idaho supporters a big message. We’ll see if they do. It may be worth noting that while Paul was drawing 1,300 up the road in Sandpoint, Gov. Butch Otter, a Romney surrogate, was speaking to a crowd of 100 in Coeur d’Alene/Marc Johnson, The Johnson Report. More here.

Question: Is there anything to be made of Paul attracting 1,200 in Sandpoint (and probably 2,000 in Moscow) while Butch Otter subbing for Mitt Romney attracted only 100 in Coeur d'Alene?

Butch: Mitt Is Our Turnaround Expert

While Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was in Ohio battling for a win there, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter visited Coeur d'Alene to stump for Romney ahead of today's Idaho caucus. Otter on Monday laid out the reasons for his endorsing Romney to a crowd of nearly 100 people at The Coeur d'Alene Resort. He said Romney is the best candidate because of his experience turning around the Salt Lake City Olympics, his performance as governor of Massachusetts and his business background. Otter said he's also most capable of beating President Barack Obama in the general election. He said Romney cut taxes in Massachusetts 19 times, and he vetoed more than 800 bills. Romney left the state with a surplus of $2 billion at the end of his governorship/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (AP file photo: Mitt Romney and Butch Otter take part in a campaign stop in Boise Feb. 17)

Question: Anyone attend the Romney rally? Impression?

Romney Rally Under Way At Resort

Gov. Butch Otter will be in Coeur d'Alene at 5:15 p.m. Monday for a meet-and-greet sponsored by the Romney campaign on the eve of Idaho's Super Tuesday caucus, according to a news release from the Romney campaign. The free event is at the Coeur d’Alene Resort. Meanwhile, Ron Paul touted endorsements from GOP state Reps. Pete Neilsen, R-Mountain Home, Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, and Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, in a weekend news release. Also backing Paul are Mullan City Councilman Chuck Reitz, who is Shoshone County GOP Chairman, and Boise County GOP Chairman John Blattler/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question (for those who attend rally): How was it?

Read more here: http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2012/03/04/idahopolitics/otter_pitch_romney_monday_north_idaho_paul_dribbles_out_endorsem#storylink=twt#storylink=cpy

Butch To Visit Lake City For Mitt Today

Gov. Butch Otter will be in Coeur d'Alene on Monday, the eve of Super Tuesday, for a meet and greet hosted by the Idaho campaign team for Mitt Romney.  The event takes place from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Coeur d'Alene Resort. There is an online form to sign up to attend. It can be found on Romney's campaign website. Otter is co-chair of Romney's statewide steering committee/Coeur d'Alene Press.

CDAJim: I think there is some confusion regarding whether Mitt will or will not be in CdA today. KXLY TV just had a report that Mitt will be here along with Butch, but I think Mitt will be campaigning in Ohio today and in Mass. tomorrow.

Question: Would you rather see Mitt Romney in person in Coeur d'Alene today — or Gov. Butch Otter serving as a stand-in?

Romney narrowly defeats Santorum in Spokane County

Fromer Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney topped the field, but barely, in Spokane County.

Four years after dominating the county's caucuses, Texas Congressman Ron Paul slipped to third.

Here are the Spokane County results, according to Spokane County GOP Chairman Matthew Pederson:

1. Romney, 1,521

2. Santorum, 1,511

3. Paul, 1,340

4. Gingrich, 411

5. Undecided, 273

6. Write-ins, 10

Update: Paul Leads Romney In Poll

Ron Paul has pulled into a slight lead in an online straw poll being being conducted prior to the Idaho caucuses on Super Tuesday. After trailing Romney by a quarter of a percent this morning, Paul leads Romney 42.44% to 39.81%. Meanwhile, Rick Santorum remains a distant third with 3.61%. Newt Gingrich has a negligible 1.1%. You can find the poll here.

Question: Do you think Mitt Romney & Ron Paul are the only true contenders for Idaho's Republican delegates?

PM: Idaho Falls Welcomes Romney

High school band members take pictures of themselves before Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney spoke at a campaign rally at Skyline High School in Idaho Falls Thursday. Wall Street Journal story below reports Romney got a warm welcome. (AP photo: George Herbert)

Democrats target Romney

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, and possibly Congressman Ron Paul, are getting some help in their bids for the GOP presidential nomination from an unusual source: The Washington State Democratic Party.

The state party is targeting GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney with a blitz in advance of Saturday's GOP caucuses describing the former venture capitalist as having contributed to America's loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs rather than helping solve the worsening problem.

"Mitt Romney comes to Washington this week, bringing with him a failed manufacturing record of offshoring jobs as Governor of Massachusetts and CEO of Bain Capital," the Democratic Party declared in advance of a morning event in Seattle.

Romney is arriving with two fresh victories under his belt, though Michigan was closer than his supporters had hoped.

Meanwhile, his campaign has scheduled a campaign stop Friday in Bellevue where people don't have to pay to see him. Romney's previous visits to the state have largely been fundraisers.

Romney, Santorum In Robocall Flap

During Josh Romney's visit to Meridian Tuesday he called out President Obama for urging Democrats to cross over and vote for anyone but Mitt Romney in Tuesday's Michigan primary. "They don't want to face my dad," Romney said to a crowd of about 100. "President Obama does not want to run against my dad, so he's encouraging everyone in Michigan — all the Democrats — to vote for the other guys, don't vote for Mitt. It's a good sign for us, but it's making life tough in Michigan." Romney pulled out a critical 3-point win Tuesday, after blasting Rick Santorum for doing what his son attributed to the president. The candidate called Santorum's automated phone calls to Democrats — reminding them that Romney opposed bailing out the U.S. auto industry — a "dirty trick" Tuesday. Santorum omitted mention of the fact that he too opposed taxpayer loans to Detroit/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here. (AP photo of Rick Santorum after his 3-point loss to Mitt Romney in Michigan last night)

Question: Do robocalls from political candidates upset you?

Read more here: http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2012/02/29/idahopolitics/josh_romney_blames_obama_his_dad_and_tom_luna_blame_santorum_rob#storylink=twt#storylink=cpy

Romney Wins Michigan, Arizona

Mitt Romney is trying to capitalize on twin victories in Arizona and Michigan as the GOP nomination race expands to the 10 states that vote on Super Tuesday. Rival Rick Santorum, who narrowly lost in Michigan, faces splitting the conservative vote with Newt Gingrich as the former House speaker counts on Southern primaries to revive his campaign. Mitt Romney speaks to supporters Tuesday night in Novi, Mich. Texas Rep. Ron Paul remains a factor as he attempts to mine delegates in caucus states like North Dakota, where his campaign team says the process plays to his strengths. Super Tuesday is March 6, just three days after Saturday's Washington state caucuses/AP. More here. (AP photo of Mitt Romney in Michigan last night)

Question: Was Kid Rock the key to putting Romney over the top in Michigan?

Polls Closing In Michigan GOPrimary

Polls have begun closing in the Michigan Republican presidential primary, where former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum are locked in a close race, with Romney hoping to reestablish himself as the frontrunner and Santorum hoping to gain momentum and reinforce his claim on the party’s conservative base. Arizona today also is holding its Republican primary, where all 29 delegates are expected to go to Romney. The state has a winner-take-all primary so most candidates conceded the race to Romney, who held his lead in the polls. Polls began closing at 8 p.m. Eastern Time in Michigan. They were to begin closing at 9 p.m. Eastern Time in Arizona/Matt Viser and Bobby Caina Calvan, Boston Globe. More here. (AP photo: Karen Santorum lists to her husband talk to the media in Grand Rapids, Mich.)

Question: Predictions?

Kid Rock Plays For Romney Rally

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney ended his final sweep through Michigan thanking supporters at a rally that included a live rendition of his campaign theme song performed by rocker/rapper Kid Rock. Romney, who introduced Rock as "a friend" and "a guy that makes great music," said Rock agreed to perform after discussing what Romney would do for Michigan as president. "He had a piece of paper and had written down some questions for me," Romney said at the rally Monday night at the Royal Oak Music Theater. "He said, 'Mitt, if you are elected president will you help me help the state of Michigan?' I said I would." Romney said he then asked Rock — a Michigan native like the Republican candidate — to play a concert for his supporters/USA Today. More here. (AP photo of Mitt Romney meeting Kid Rock)

Via Twitter, Hmaboi: "Kid Rock endorsed Romney? Jon Bon Jovi is doing Advil ads? Am I in some sort of alternate universe?"

Question: Are you surprised that Kid Rock would play for a Romney rally?

Idaho Paper Backs Mitt, Slams Others

We believe that Mitt Romney is the best choice for Idaho, the best choice for Republicans, and the best option in bringing conservatism back to the White House in the person of the 45th President of the United States. He has listed creating jobs and restoring American competitiveness as his highest priorities, and although implementing those priorities is way easier said than done, at least he has the priorities right. And despite his bungled statements about both the “very rich” and the “very poor,” his clarifying remark — “My energy is going to be devoted to helping middle-income people” — is exactly where the next president’s energy ought to be focused/Twin Falls Times-News Editorial Board. More here. (AP photo of Mitt Romney in Traverse City, Mich., Sunday)

Question: Do you agree with the choice of the Twin Falls Times-News for the GOP presidential nomination?

Are Republican candidates in step with Americans on public lands?

PUBLIC LANDS — Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have suggested they would support degrees of selling federal public lands or transferring federal lands to states to manage.

Similar proposals promoted during the Reagan administration by controversial Interior Secretary James Watt fizzled after being douced by overwhelming public opinion.

A recent poll conducted by Colorado College found support for public lands in the West continues to be deep, with 85 percent of Westerners agreeing that public lands play a large role in state economies.

Check out this High Country News Writers on the Range column, "Some politicians turn public lands into a political football," by William Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society.

Romney: Increase Age For Medicare, SS

Four days before critical primary elections, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney outlined a far-reaching plan Friday to delay Americans’ eligibility for Medicare and Social Security. Romney said the gradual shift, as people live longer, is needed to steer the giant benefit programs toward economic sustainability. Speaking to the Detroit Economic Club – in cavernous Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions football team plays – he also sought primary election support in Michigan, which votes on Tuesday along with Arizona. Romney said previous steps to toughen government emission standards had “provided a benefit to some of the foreign automakers” at the expense of American companies. He said future changes should be worked out cooperatively between government and industry/Associated Press. More here. (AP photo of Mitt Romney in Michigan Friday)

Question: Do you agree with the proposal by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to save Medicare and Social Security by increasing eligibility age beginning in 2022?

McMorris Rodgers: Romney should emphasize fiscal issues

OLYMPIA – In this year’s volatile Republican presidential campaign, Mitt Romney’s success in the March 3 Washington caucuses may depend on how well he does in the two contests earlier in the week, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the chairwoman of his state campaign, said Wednesday.
“It’s up and down,” McMorris Rodgers said in an interview with reporters. “Some of it depends on how things turn out in Michigan and Arizona.”
Those states have primaries on Tuesday; the Washington precinct caucuses are next Saturday…

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

Romney’s son defends dad’s health care record

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Josh Romney campaign for dad in Spokane Valley

Josh Romney, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s son, spoke to about 75 people at CenterPlace in Spokane Valley on Tuesday.

Romney, 36, is the third of Romney’s five sons. He’s a real estate investor who lives in Salt Lake City.

He said his dad will campaign on March 1 in Bellevue and a location that hasn’t been finalized in Eastern Washington. He downplayed the recent surge in polls experienced by Santorum.

“We feel really good about how things are going. There’s no primary process that is easy or predictable,” he said. “We’re just making sure that people understand our message, our vision for this country and where my dad would take us.”

Josh Romney addressed concerns about his dad’s health care plan in Massachusetts, which he called “a state solution to a state problem.” He also stressed that his dad is “firmly pro-life,” and painted him as an outsider with important business experience.

“My dad’s the one guy who has never worked one day in Washington D.C.”

Idaho Becomes GOPrez Race Player

Patrick Teems completed a political odyssey Saturday. The Boise pilot last week got to attend political rallies for three of the top contenders for the Republican presidential nomination ahead of Idaho’s March 6 GOP caucus. Teems came into the week leaning toward Mitt Romney, but seeing the other two made him reconsider. Ron Paul’s libertarian message Saturday resonated with him. And he liked Rick Santorum’s electrifying speech Tuesday at Capital High — and Santorum’s willingness to stay afterward to have his picture taken with people such as Teems’ teenage son, Max. Republican Congressman Raul Labrador would have loved to see all three, too, but he was in Washington, D.C., until Saturday and was able to attend only Paul’s rally. He’s not endorsing any candidate/Dan Popkey & Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman. More here. (SR file photo: Santorum with Coeur d'Alene High students (from left) Adam Borsheim, Derek Scharf and Ty Higbie)

Question: Did the visit of three of the top four GOP presidential candidates last week boost Idaho's status on the national Republican scene?

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/02/19/2000925/gop-candidates-look-to-idaho.html#storylink=cpy

Sunday Spin: Does familiarity breed endorsement?

With presidential candidates making their quadrennial stops in the Inland Northwest ahead of the caucuses, Republican voters might be wondering how to pick among the four remaining candidates.

After all, none of the four has very strong connections to the region, or has spent much time in the area when not on the campaign trail. And some haven’t even made so much a pit stop here yet.

Spin Control decided to get some insight from one fairly well-known Republican who served with at least three of the four would-be nominees. Former Rep. George Nethercutt was elected to the House in the historic GOP takeover engineered by Newt Gingrich, and served with Rick Santorum and Ron Paul during his six years there.

So who’s he backing? . . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, go inside the blog.

A Romney coming Tuesday (not Mitt)

Mitt Romney doesn’t have a campaign stop in the Inland Northwest yet, but one of his sons, Josh, is attending a campaign meet and greet, plus caucus training, at 12:15 Tuesday at Center Place in the Spokane Valley.

Otter, Boise Turn Out For Mitt

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter introduced GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Romney's Boise campaign rally this afternoon. “Folks, this election is about your and my liberty,” Otter said. “We will turn out for that Idaho caucus. … We will turn out for the man that has the executive experience, understands that we are a free market, not a socialist country, that has been there and done that”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Romney to Boise crowd: ‘I am the fiscal conservative’

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter introduced GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Romney's Boise campaign rally this afternoon. "Folks, this election is about your and my liberty," Otter said. "We will turn out for that Idaho caucus. … We will turn out for the man that has the executive experience, understands that we are a free market, not a socialist country, that has been there and done that."

Romney, who's come to Idaho to campaign for Otter in the past, told the crowd, "What a great state this is - you're lucky to live here." He recalled a summer he spent working on an Idaho ranch near King Hill when he was 15. "I learned so much about cultivating corn and spring corn and irrigating corn," he said. "I thought I'd never see the end of corn."

Romney said, "I've got a note here in my pocket that says remind the people there's a caucus on March 6th. I think you know that." To cheers, he said, "I need your vote, because I want to be president!" The crowd chanted, "Mitt, Mitt, Mitt."

"It's a remarkable country that we live in, and what breaks your heart is to see how many people (are) having tough times right now," said Romney, who criticized both President Obama and GOP rival Rick Santorum, who held a Boise campaign rally on Tuesday.

Among Romney's applause lines: "I think to create jobs it helps to have had a job" and "I am the fiscal conservative, I'll balance the budget, I'll get America back on track economically." Click below for a full report from AP reporter Kasie Hunt.

Romney: ‘I’m Fiscal Conservative’

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter introduced GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Romney's Boise campaign rally this afternoon. “Folks, this election is about your and my liberty,” Otter said. “We will turn out for that Idaho caucus. … We will turn out for the man that has the executive experience, understands that we are a free market, not a socialist country, that has been there and done that.” Romney, who's come to Idaho to campaign for Otter in the past, told the crowd, “What a great state this is - you're lucky to live here.” He recalled a summer he spent working on an Idaho ranch near King Hill when he was 15. “I learned so much about cultivating corn and spring corn and irrigating corn,” he said. “I thought I'd never see the end of corn”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

At the rally for Mitt Romney in Boise now going on, Dennis Mansfield Facebooks: "Mitt Romney, in person, strikes me as the guy you knew in high school who might have been on the cheer-leading squad. Nice guy, sort-of athletic, and a guy who wants to be liked. But still… A cheerleader. Odd."

Question: Do you have a good/bad impression of high school cheerleaders?

Mag: Idaho Billionaire Silences Critics

In Salon mag, writer Glenn Greenwald discusses Idaho billionaire & Mitt Romney backer Frank Vandersloot: "But it is VanderSloot’s chronic bullying threats to bring patently frivolous lawsuits against his political critics — magazines, journalists, and bloggers — that makes him particularly pernicious and worthy of more attention. In the last month alone, VanderSloot, using threats of expensive defamation actions, has successfully forced Forbes, Mother Jones and at least one local gay blogger in Idaho to remove articles that critically focused on his political and business practices. He has been using this abusive tactic in Idaho for years: suppressing legitimate political speech by threatening or even commencing lawsuits against even the most obscure critics (he has even sued local bloggers for “copyright infringement” after they published a threatening letter sent by his lawyers). This tactic almost always succeeds in silencing its targets, because even journalists and their employers who have done nothing wrong are afraid of the potentially ruinous costs they will incur when sued by a litigious billionaire." More here.


Rules Change In Idaho Prez Politics

Romney returns to Boise Friday. But in addition to his standard operating procedure — talking to the $1,000 to $2,500 fundraiser circle — he has worked a public event into his Idaho itinerary. I’ve heard it said that time is one of those inflexible commodities in a campaign. A candidate can always try to fire up the fundraising machinery, but every candidate is allocated the same number of hours in a day. The mere fact that Romney is expending a little bit of that time to talk to the regular folks is telling. Also telling is the fact that the Romney campaign brought out Gov. Butch Otter and Sen. Jim Risch Tuesday, for a counterattack targeting Santorum/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Is it possible that Romney is running scared in Idaho, despite his built-in advantages?

Read more here: http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2012/02/15/krichert/idaho_presidential_politics_rules_have_changed#storylink=twt#storylink=cpy

PM: Santorum Wows Lake City Crowd

Elizabeth Santorum, daughter of presidential candidate Rick Santorum, greets the crowd Tuesday at the Hagadone Events Center in Coeur d'Alene. (SR photo: Jesse Tinsley)

Question: Could it be that erstwhile, long-shot Rick Santorum may win Idaho's Republican delegates?

Big Idaho Guns Push Romney Visit

Monday's news of a new Pew Research Center poll putting Rick Santorum ahead of Mitt Romney among GOP voters and Tuesday's visit by Santorum to Coeur d'Alene and Boise brought out Idaho's big guns to shore up a state that Romney is heavily favored to win. The Romney campaign sent reporters notices of a conference call with Romney's Idaho co-chairs, Gov. Butch Otter and U.S. Sen. Jim Risch Monday night and Tuesday morning. Otter and Jim Risch will "discuss their support" for Romney and "why Mitt Romney is the right choice for Idaho," the campaign said. The call is scheduled for 11 a.m. MST. Romney will hold $2,500 and $1,000 per person fundraisers in Boise Friday. He has yet to announce a public event, but is expected to do so/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here. (Butch Otter and wife, Lori, applaud Mitt Romney at Elko, Nev., rally Feb. 3)

Question: Does Santorum's visit to Coeur d'Alene make you more apt to vote for him than Romney, who is supported by the Powers That Be in the state of Idaho?

Read more here: http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2012/02/14/idahopolitics/with_santorum_spending_a_full_day_idaho_otter_risch_pitch_report#storylink=cpy

Paul, Romney Showdown In Maine

Merav Yaakov of Manchester, N.H., hold signs in support of Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, outside a scheduled event for Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H. Romney and Ron Paul rarely acknowledge each other in the Republican presidential race, focusing their attention and attacks on rivals Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum instead. That curious detente will be tested in Maine's caucuses Saturday, where Romney's reputation as a political shape shifter is set to go head-to-head with Paul's quirky but consistent set of libertarian beliefs. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Question: As you know, Kootenai County is a Ron Paul stronghold. Do you think Ron Paul will best Romney in Idaho? Or will Santorum be a factor here by then?

Johnson: The Missing Mitt

There are few enduring truths in politics. Money usually wins would be one truism. Optimism beats gloom would be another. The truism that once and future GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney keeps finding wrapped around his campaign axle is the old line about voters first needing to know the candidate’s name, then understand the man, and finally warm to the message. Romney keeps tripping over the man. After running for president in 2008 and literally never stopping for breath in the three years since, Romney still seems a mystery. As hard as he works at it, Romney leaves the steady impression that he’s keeping his real self as buttoned down as the oxford cloth shirts he now wears at every campaign event/Marc Johnson, The Johnson Report. More here.

Question: Any of you have a good idea re: what makes Mitt tick?