Presidential races

Presidential races

60 Plus Association head criticizes Romney, predicts Senate will flip

Jim Martin, the chairman of the big-spending, conservative 60 Plus Association, criticized Mitt Romney's attacks on Rick Perry's Social Security position and predicted Republicans will take control of the Senate in next year's elections.

"I don't like the demagoguery about Social Security," Martin said when asked about Romney. "I'm sensitive to it because from Goldwater on it is used every election cycle by Democrats; it's in their DNA; they scare us old folks. Then hear a Republican say that, it turned me off."

Martin praised Perry and Herman Cain as strong candidates, describing Cain as a friend and extolling Perry's job-creation prospects, but stopped short of endorsing any candidate.

The 60 Plus Association has long been active in conservative politics with a focus on seniors' issues including Medicare, Social Security, health insurance reform and the estate tax. The group upped its spending considerably last election and hit Democrats hard on their support of President Obama's health insurance reforms, dropping $6.4 million into House and Senate campaigns and playing a large role in electing a handful of House Republicans who otherwise would have been badly outspent. Martin promised that his group would spend even more this election.

"We'll spend more in 2012 than we did in 2010 — we proved our effectiveness last election, and that doesn't hurt you with the donor base," he said. "If Social Security and Medicare get demagogued, I'll be there to shoot down the demagoguers."

Martin promised to play heavily in both House and Senate races and predicted the Senate will flip to the GOP, but stopped short of predicting a Republican victory in the presidential race.

"The Senate will go Republican in 2012 — that same tsunami [of senior voters] is waiting offshore as 2010," he said. "I'm not quite ready to predict the White House yet."

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Socially conservative groups release presidential scorecard

The anti-abortion-rights group Susan B. Anthony List and anti-same-sex marriage group National Organization for Marriage released their presidential campaign scorecards Friday morning ahead of the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit.

All the GOP presidential candidates — with the exception of former Utah governor Jon Huntsman — are scheduled to appear at the event in Washington, D.C., on either Friday and Saturday.

All of the candidates except Herman Cain and Mitt Romney signed the SBA List's pro-life pledge, while all of the candidates besides Cain, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul signed NOM's pledge to defend traditional marriage.

The candidates with unblemished records on both issues, according to the groups, are Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Michele Bachmann, the three candidates who, along with Cain, are most seriously vying for the support of social conservatives.

NOM's president said he believes his group's issue will play a large role in the campaign.

"Given the fact that all of the main presidential candidates have signed our marriage pledge, which is a very strong pledge, clearly this election 2012, social issues are going to be very important," he told The Hill on the eve of the vote's release. "There's been an attempt to downplay them in much of the media."

Perry has strugggled somewhat with that group since his campaign launched because of mandate as governor of Texas that teenage girls get a vaccine against a sexually transmitted disease known to cause cervical cancer. He needs to have a strong performance Friday at the summit in order to woo some of the movement's leaders towards his campaign.

Download the scorecards here.

Josh Lederman contributed.

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Palin: GOP candidates already calling to ask for an endorsement

Republican presidential candidates started calling Sarah Palin to court her endorsement as soon as word broke that she wasn't running for president in 2012, the former Alaska governor said hours after making her announcement.

Palin declined to say which of the GOP hopefuls had made contact, but said on Fox News that her husband, Todd Palin, had been answering the phone and setting up meetings with the candidates.

“I look forward to working with them in order to help them maybe articulate their message in more detail, so we can make that best decision,” Palin said.

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Anti-Obama group to launch anti-Romney ads in Iowa

The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama will launch a major ad campaign in Iowa accusing Mitt Romney for being a flip-flopping liberal in disguise.

The group has a long version of the ad, titled "Liberal Mitt's greatest hits," with clips of Romney taking positions that are anathema to many conservatives today.

Spokesman Ryan Gill described the initial video as a "roadmap" for the ads that will be aired, and said the group will run a six-figure ad buy in Iowa on cable and broadcast television to knock down Romney's numbers there and damage his "inevitability argument."

Gill said that the group is likely to expand the effort to attack Romney in other early-voting states including New Hampshire and Nevada, although the size of those ad buys is contingent on fundraising.

"Right now we’re just going to focus on our Stop Mitt Romney effort. Our analysis of the field is he’s the guy who’s not acceptable to conservatives but is displaying this ability to get the GOP nomination and risk what we had last time around with John McCain," said Gill.

The laundry list of video clips include Romney promising to "protect a woman's right to choose," saying he was "an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush" and doesn't want to return to their policies, that he supports affirmative action, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Wall Street bailout, some gun control legislation, and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

A shorter version of the ad hits Romney for many of these positions. "Mitt Romney's so liberal he's fought conservatives on abortion, RomneyCare, bailouts, illegal immigration, and much more," says the narrator.

The former Massachusetts governor has been held at arm's length by many Tea Party supporters and other conservatives. But in the latest poll of Iowans, and in national polls, he continues to lead by holding down centrists while the other candidates divide up the conservative vote.

Watch the longer web ad here:

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Club for Growth strongly praises Herman Cain

The fiscally conservative, deep-pocketed group Club for Growth strongly praised Herman Cain in a press release Wednesday afternoon.

"Herman Cain is surging in the polls because his clear message of limited government and economic freedom is resonating," said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. "Cain has articulated a strong vision for putting America back on the path to prosperity. A clear message promoting economic growth, like the one Herman Cain is presenting, is essential to defeating Obama. Republican primary voters ought to give Herman Cain a close look. We are."

When asked if their statement meant the Club might endorse Cain, spokesman Barney Keller coyly (and repeatedly) replied "Anything's possible."

Cain's biggest hurdle towards becoming a first-tier candidate is his fundraising. The Club's strong praise for him could serve as a good housekeeping seal of approval for Tea Party supporters and help him further gain traction, and should they decide to endorse and spend money on his behalf it could help him close the gap with Mitt Romney and Rick Perry in inexpensive early states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

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