GOP Presidential Primary

GOP Presidential Primary

Romney ended February with $7.3 million in the bank

Mitt Romney ended February with almost $7.3 million in the bank and raised $11.5 million during the month, his campaign reported to federal officials Tuesday, out-raising all the other GOP candidates for February and leaving him with no debt.

It was Romney’s best fundraising month yet, and a leap forward from the $6.5 million he raised during January. It also bested Rick Santorum's February haul by about $2.5 million.

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Santorum surrogate: Campaigning in Puerto Rico 'a mistake'

Rick Santorum should have skipped his trip to Puerto Rico and campaigned more in Illinois ahead of its Tuesday primary in the presidential race, a top Santorum surrogate told The Hill.

"It turned out to be a mistake," Santorum's Illinois Chairman Al Salvi said when asked about the former Pennsylvania senator's trip to Puerto Rico.

{mosads}Santorum spent days campaigning on the island but finished with just 8 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney's 83 percent and won no delegates there. He also angered some locals when he said Puerto Ricans should have to learn English before they can apply for statehood.

Salvi said he was proud that Santorum "stuck to his guns" on the issue and said Romney "took a complete 180." But he said that a photo of Santorum sunbathing in Puerto Rico — and the Drudge Report's accompanying "Rick Rico" headline — wasn't the best way for the candidate to spend the weekend. 

He joked that Puerto Rico's beach weather did beat spending early March in chilly Illinois, though. "I don't blame him," Salvi said. "I'd go to Puerto Rico too — the weather’s a bit better down there."

Recent polls show Romney in the lead ahead of Illinois's contest.

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Democratic, Republican committees refocus on healthcare

The Republican National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee both refocused their attention on healthcare Monday morning.

The DCCC announced robocalls against vulnerable House Republicans on Medicare, while the RNC put out a memo sardonically titled "Happy Birthday, ObamaCare."

{mosads}Healthcare is likely to reemerge as a major issue in the coming weeks: House Republicans plan to vote again on a budget that would include Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) plan to privatize Medicare, while President Obama's signature policy achievement will face Supreme Court scrutiny.

The RNC memo argues that the law will hurt Obama in November, and lays out a series of polls showing the law is unpopular nationally.

"As we move into the fall of 2012, what will be on the minds of voters, ObamaCare? No one bears more responsibility than Obama for his namesake law, and no one will bear more responsibility for the toll it's taking on Democrat incumbents and candidates," writes RNC political director Rick Wiley. "All this has got to give Obama a headache, and probably a tummy-ache too. Perhaps Joe Biden can find him an aspirin ... if a bureaucrat somewhere approves of it."

The DCCC's robocalls target 41 potentially vulnerable House Republicans, arguing they have repeatedly pushed to cut Medicare. "Republicans in Washington have a new budget that chooses millionaires over Medicare," says one version of the script. "House Republicans ... demand seniors who earned their Medicare benefits spend thousands more, but refuse to end tax loopholes and giveaways for millionaires. It's just not fair and it's not right. We all agree Washington needs to cut spending, but it should be done the right way, not on the backs of seniors."

How the parties describe their positions on healthcare in general — and Medicare specifically — is crucial to their electoral success, especially in states with large numbers of senior citizens such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. The next few weeks are likely to see another battle to frame the issue, as both sides seek to say the other wants to dismantle Medicare.

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