Saturday, March 17, 2012

It’s election time in Land of Lincoln; Puerto Rico steals candidate attention

The timing of the primary election cycle is playing like a sick joke, for those with an interest in the Republican side of the equation.
ROMNEY: He should be Ill. favorite

I write that because I can’t help notice the proximity of the timing of Illinois’ primary on Tuesday with the caucuses being held in Puerto Rico on Sunday.

THE REALITY OF this year’s election cycle is that no Republican candidate is going to get significant Latino support. I’m sure there is a part of the GOP candidate mentality that wishes they could skip the Caribbean island commonwealth altogether.

That would allow them to focus on Illinois – the Midwestern state with the most electoral votes and with so many delegates at stake that a victory here would be the game-changer.

A Romney victory (and he does have the superior campaign structure in this state, which means something in terms of turning out the vote in years when no candidate is truly inspiring to the people) could just about put this thing away and make it obvious that Romney is the political equivalent of The Borg.

“Resistance is futile.” He will be the nominee, no matter how much the hard-core ideologues of the Republican Party try to fight it. And if you don’t get the reference, find a Star Trek-geek to explain it to you.

ON THE OTHER hand, a Santorum victory here (he has won other Midwestern states such as Minnesota and Iowa) could be the blow that makes it clear the personal contempt that many Republican voters feel for Romney will overcome his campaign structure. Which sounds too much like a dream, to me.

Yet Romney could only make his morning breakfast appearance at a restaurant in suburban Rosemont, before having to catch an airplane at nearby O’Hare International Airport to get his buttocks to Puerto Rico so he can try to appeal to at least a few voters there.
SANTORUM: Will cornfields,Egypt propel to

I’m sure he will come back to Illinois before Tuesday, although I’m also convinced he would have rather stayed here and focused on a place where he could win some significant support.

Instead, Romney and the other Republican dreamers are having to present the image of being everywhere – even a place that will be hostile turf for their political desires.

WE ALL SAW how Rick Santorum handled himself earlier this week in Puerto Rico when he practically told the island natives they’d better learn English if they want him to take their dreams of statehood seriously.

Which is why Santorum spent his Friday in the Chicago suburbs around Arlington Heights, and plans to come back to Southern Illinois during the weekend to appeal to the portion of voters who are taking his campaign desires seriously.

He’s already done Puerto Rico damage to his campaign, and I’d be shocked if he returned to the island. Which means Romney may well take those Sunday caucuses – which just aren’t going to add much in the way of real support to his campaign. But it would hurt him with Latinos elsewhere if he didn't make the effort to campaign there.

Now I realize that a truly professional campaign is capable of making superficial appearances in a lot of places while giving out the impression that it is connecting with ALL of the people.

BUT THIS IS one that is just spread a little too thin, and I wonder how superficial it makes of the connection that is being established with the would-be voters?

In fact, there’s probably one place that won’t see much in the way of campaign activity these days, and that’s the city proper.

Chicago remains “Obama Country” because its overwhelming number of votes for the Democratic Party candidates will be the reason that Illinois falls into the Obama column in the Nov. 6 general election.

Which is why we got Obama himself back in Chicago on Friday.

HE WAS IN The Loop for a political fundraiser, and managed to collect about $2 million to bolster his own campaign fund.
HANKS: A long way from ""Big"

I understand that the people who actually showed up at the event (and those who were at a separate event that cost $10,000 per person to enter) got to see a new campaign video narrated by actor Tom Hanks, and one that Romney went out of his way to dismiss as superficial. It probably was.

Just as much as any future statements will be that may be made by such entertainment personas as Arnold Schwarzenegger or Ted Nugent.

I’m sure all Obama really cares about is that his “celebrity” connection got him those big bucks. Listening to Romney’s complaint comes across as petty jealousy that his entertainers can’t help him come up with the same kind of campaign cash.


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