photo source: Getty Images

This is it. Today, Willard Mitt Romney goes where no semi-Mexican Mormon has  gone before. Romney is officially  the Republican nominee for president. Forget presumptive. Forget putative. Forget probable. When Texas  doled out its 155 delegates, that pushed Romney over the 1,144 he needs to  clinch the title, and transform himself from front-runner to official  nominee.

(L.- r.) Jae C. Hong/AP, Carolyn Kaster/AP

The battle between Romney and President  Obama began weeks ago, after it was clear there were no real contenders left to  challenge the former Massachusetts governor. Mitt Romney’s victory in the Texas primary on Tuesday gives him enough delegates to capture the Republican presidential nomination, but he remains some distance from recovering from the damage caused by months of tussling with rivals in his own party.

As Texans cast their ballots, Romney was campaigning in two swing states — Nevada and Colorado — that attest to the consequences of the nomination battle. Both states are home to large populations of Latinos. But Romney’s conservative positioning on immigration during the primaries has helped to spike his unpopularity among Latinos. He attacked rival Rick Perry, for instance, for granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
Romney can afford to lose the Latino vote, but not by the lopsided proportions seen in recent polls. A national survey released last week by NBC, the Wall Street Journal and Telemundo found Obama leading Romney among Latino voters 61% to 27%. Romney has been working to address the issue. Speaking to a Latino audience last week in Washington, he called the failure of schools that educate minority students “the civil rights issue of our time.” Polls have long found education to be a top priority for Latino voters.

Romney’s rightward tilt during the primaries also created problems for him with women. A poll released last week by ABC and the Washington Post showed 51% of female voters support Obama and 44% back Romney. Obama’s reelection campaign has sought to depress Romney’s standing among women by highlighting conservative stands that the former Massachusetts governor took during the primaries, such as his pledge to end public funding of Planned Parenthood and his support for a measure that would let any employer deny birth control coverage to employees based on moral objections.

Steven Senne/AP

After weeks of sparring between Romney and Obama, it’s easy to forget how much pressure Romney faced from his party’s conservative wing during the primaries.

For weeks at a time, Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum each ran ahead of Romney in national polls of Republicans, thanks largely to conservative resistance to Romney, who was perceived as more moderate.
Ultimately, only Santorum, who had a stronger claim than Romney on ideological purity, posed a serious threat, winning 11 contests in states spread across the nation’s heartland. Santorum dropped out of the race last month after losing the Wisconsin primary.
 In the end, it took Romney nearly five months to clinch the nomination with his win in Texas. He needed 58 of the 152 Texas delegates at stake Tuesday to reach the 1,144 needed to clinch the nomination, according to the Associated Press. With no opponents actively campaigning, Romney easily hit the mark.

Photographer: Evan Vucci/AP

“I am honored that Americans across the country have given their support to my candidacy and I am humbled to have won enough delegates to become the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee,” Romney said in a statement Tuesday evening. “Our party has come together with the goal of putting the failures of the last three-and-a-half years behind us.”
Over the next several weeks, Romney will pick up more delegates in the six remaining primaries, including California’s on June 5.

Read More: Chicago Tribune

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Romney’s endorsements: Where’s Bush ’43?


MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts speaks with power political panel: Alicia Menendez of NBC Latino, New York Daily News Columnist S.E. Cupp, and USA Today politics reporter Jackie Kucinich.

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>>> one person who has been noticeably absent from the romney endorsement circuit, former president bush . a question about g.w. made for an awkward exchange with romney and the parents of the 43rd president.

>> endorsement?

>> no, no.

>> i love that picture of the two presidents, father, son. quite a legacy.

>> we want to bring in our political power panel this morning, political commentate, alista menendez and jackie kucinich. great to have you here. former president g.w. bush after after thought yesterday, also m.i.a. at half a dozen fund-raisers romney ‘s had throughout texas this week. what do you make of the fact that he’s virtually invisible now? is the silence deafening?

>> i think that the bushes are very aware of the fact that their brand at this point is still a bit complicated, that for george w. bush to come forward isn’t necessarily the boon to mitt romney that he wishes it were. the bigger endorsement is the jeb bushendorsement, big regional strength in florida even if doesn’t weigh huge in the primary it’s great in the general.

>> one endorsement the democrats are jumping all over is paul ryan . take a look. a new ad attacking romney and ryan ‘s support for one another. when old mitt claps his hands for the paul ryan plan that’s amaury*

>> when the plan came out i applauded it when paul ryan gives props to old mitt romney ‘s chops that’s amore*

>> entitlement speech was very good.

>> do you think that radio ad is going to be lightning for what’s taking place this love fest between the two, other than that a song in our head for the rest of the day.

>> no. these endorsements don’t mean anything and they especially don’t mean much when they’re delivered both rubio and ryan have given them. those are both great candidates and conservative favorites. but their endorsements were more process driven than about mitt romney . their endorsements were we need to come together, we don’t want to fight on the floor of the convention, not ringing endorsements for mitt romney . i think both of those guys kind of wanted to just get them out of the way.

>> all right. jackie , despite romney ‘s lead in wisconsin there’s a new nbc/marist poll showing him trailing president obama by double digits . the president has 52% support versus romney ‘s 35 and trailing the president in several other battleground polls. do you expect numbers to tighten up as romney begins to wrap up the nomination?

>> i think as we see the campaign go on, they might tighten up a bit. but romney is suffering from is not being able to really gin up a lot of enthusiasm with some of the under pent voters and that’s — he hasn’t been able to pay a lot of attention to them because of the conservative nature of the this race. it will tighten up a about they have find a way to generate enthusiasm to voters on the fence.

>> as we talk about rick santorum , if he does poorly in wisconsin and numbers are fading in pennsylvania what does it mean for his campaign?

>> interesting aspect of that poll that we saw of the nbc/marist poll santorum fares better against obama than romney does. there’s still support out there. he doesn’t have much reason to get out of the race before pennsylvania. so i would imagine he’ll probably stick around.

>> doesn’t rick santorum support president obama more than he supports romney ?

>> santorum?

>> yeah. isn’t he the one that said if i’m not the one, don’t vote for romney , vote forpresident obama .

>> he was trying to say mitt romney and obama have more in common than people think.

>> let’s talk about newt gingrich . sheldon adelson , the billionaire benny factor single-handedly penning checks to the campaign met with romney ‘s backers according to “the washington post .” ed ale donson and his family spent $16 million, that’s a drop in the bucket, a heavy night on the town for that family. jackie , what more does newt gingrich need to do to get the message that this isn’t going his way and he needs to hang it up?

>> i don’t think anyone can make newt get out other than newt. he’s going to stick around. at this point he’s not making a big impact in polls anymore. the frank lynn marginal poll had him at single digits. he can stick around as long as he wants to. he wants to be part of the conversation and whether or not anyone’s paying attention.

>> as we speak of wealthy donors the word that the company at the center of the pink slime controversy involving ammonia-tainted beef by-products headed by a majorromney donor, es this easy pickings for democrats to make a pink slime ad?

>> sure. democrats are focused on the ryan contrast piece. i think that will play much bigger and better with voters than this temporary question of pink slime connecting it to medicare, medicaid, big tax cuts for billionaires and millionaires. that’s what’s going to resonate with voters, not this meat thing.

>> i think alicia’s right. i don’t think the pick slink distraction will have too many legs.

>> ladies, thanks so much. appreciate it.



Texas should be playing a role in Republican politics this year as big as, well, Texas.

The fast-growing state – the most populous by far in the Republican column – has four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, a big U.S. Senate race and more than a 10th of the delegates who will choose the party’s presidential nominee.

But a racially tinged dispute over redrawing its congressional districts has delayed the Texas primary by almost three months, complicated the U.S. Senate and House contests and altered the race for the White House.

A San Antonio court pushed Texas’ primary back to May 29 from March 6 after complaints that a new electoral map drawn by Republicans violated the federal Voting Rights Act by diluting the voting power of blacks and Latinos.

Three of Texas’ four new U.S. House seats were created in areas dominated by whites, even though Hispanics and blacks accounted for 90 percent of Texas’ population growth since 2000.

The battle sets white Republicans, who have firmly established political control in Texas within the past decade, against rising and strongly Democratic Hispanic and black populations, whose leaders argue that they are being unfairly denied an equal voice in state politics.

The stakes are high both for 2012, when the White House and control of the U.S. Congress are up for grabs, and longer term, when a rapidly growing Hispanic population is expected eventually to disadvantage Republicans and benefit Democrats.

“Republicans can work that racial solidarity thing for a while, but in the end, they’ve got to do better than 35 percent of the Hispanic vote or their election prospects are not great,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

States with a history of minority voting rights violations must obtain pre-clearance from either the U.S. Department of Justice or the federal court in Washington, D.C., before they can use new maps. The new voter map in Florida, another fast-growing southern state, has also been subject to legal wrangling this year.


Non-Hispanic whites already account for a minority of Texas’ residents, with 45 percent of the population. The state is 38 percent Latino and 12 percent black, numbers expected to continue to rise.

President Barack Obama lost Texas by 11-percentage points in 2008. He got only 26 percent of the white vote, but was backed by 63 percent of Hispanics and 98 percent of blacks, fueling talk that it will not be long before Republican red Texas turns purple, if not Democratic blue.

“We sort of feel like we have the wind at our backs,” said Anthony Gutierrez, deputy executive director of the Texas Democratic Party.

Democrats have won Texas in only three of the last 15 presidential elections. The party has not won a statewide election since 1994, and Republicans cemented their control of the state with huge victories in the 2010 midterms.

But even Republicans acknowledge that changing demographics mean the party must appeal to Hispanics to hold onto power beyond the next few years. Latinos in Texas generally vote Democratic by a 2-to-1 margin, which won’t be helped by a redistricting fight seen as a battle to maintain white control.

“It is obviously a high-risk strategy in a state that is increasingly Hispanic,” said Michael Li, a Dallas-based election law lawyer who runs the blog “Texas Redistricting.” Li is not involved in the redistricting fight.


The redistricting mess has already affected the 2012 presidential race, notably the hopes of Mitt Romney, who may have done well in the Texas primary if it had taken place on Super Tuesday – March 6 – as originally scheduled.

Texas would have been the biggest prize up for grabs on Super Tuesday, when 10 other states held primaries and caucuses.

Romney, with far more money and a bigger campaign organization than rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, was best placed to compete in so many states at once. Texas alone has 20 media markets, meaning statewide advertising can cost millions.

Winning or putting in a good showing in Texas would have boosted Romney. The state’s 155 delegates, awarded proportionally, are a huge chunk of the 1,144 needed to become the nominee.

A strong performance on Super Tuesday also would have given Romney a badly needed breakthrough in the heart of southern Republican conservatism, weakening Santorum and perhaps cutting short what has become a protracted nomination fight.

Instead, Romney has been a weak front-runner and Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator best known for strong religious conservatism, has been winning over the party’s right wing.

“It (a March 6 Texas primary) would have changed a lot of things. It would have changed the entire complexion of Super Tuesday,” said Matt Mackowiak, an Austin-based Republican strategist, especially with Santorum and Gingrich both vying for the support of the most conservative Texans.

“I suspect if the field was split and if Santorum and Gingrich hadn’t had $5 million or $3 million to spend, then Romney probably would have won Texas on March 6,” he said.

With Texas now one of the last states to vote, the nominee could be chosen by May 29. Even if it isn’t, Santorum is now considered more likely to take Texas, thanks to improving fund-raising and his solidified position as the conservative alternative to Romney.

“Romney starts with a significant disadvantage in terms of public opinion,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, although he added that Romney’s big campaign war chest means that he could spend heavily in Texas to target clusters of mainstream conservatives in major media markets.

A Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research poll last week showed Santorum eight percentage points ahead of Romney among likely Republican primary voters in Texas. Santorum was at 35 percent to 27 percent for Romney.

Gingrich was at 20 percent and Ron Paul, a Texas congressman lagging in most polls, was at 8 percent.

The redistricting mess is affecting races down the ticket as well, with many voters not sure where they are registered and many candidates unsure of where they should run or raise money while the court fight has continued.

“I can look around the state and see the confusion in the eyes of the average voter,” said Chris Elam, communications director for the state Republican party. Some 100 Republicans alone have applied to run for the 36 House seats, he said.

The interim map is expected to stand, but there is a chance it could be changed again by the Washington court.

The May 29 date is after schools close for the summer, leading to worries that turnout will be low, which often leads to unpredictable results.

The race to replace retiring Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has been most affected by the upheaval. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst has been favored to replace Hutchison, because of his statewide name recognition and fundraising prowess.

But the long delay has given opponents, especially Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz, time to raise money and their profiles. Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and Craig James, a one-time television sports analyst, are also in the race.

If no one wins a majority on May 29, state law mandates a runoff vote on July 31, the heart of the hot Texas summer when an even smaller turnout would be expected.

On Monday, the Republican Party of Texas received a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice thatconfirmed federal pre-clearance of the temporary and emergency changes to the RPT rules that were adopted on February 29 at the emergency meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee.

As was reported in previous redistricting updates, during the February redistricting trial, the three-judge federal panel in San Antonio indicated to Chairman Munisteri that the RPT needed to obtain USDOJ pre-clearance on the party’s convention process. The DOJ attorney at the trial testified that his office would expedite the review of the changes and could reduce the approval time from a couple of months to a couple of weeks. The rules changes made by the SREC were submitted to the USDOJ on March 5, 2012 and this week the RPT received a letter verifying that the pre-clearance had indeed been expedited and approved.

Thus, the final legal obstacle has been overcome in the 2012 Republican Party of Texas convention process. The county and district conventions are moving forward on the dates of April 14 or April 21 (will vary by county), and the State Convention will be held on June 7-9 in Fort Worth. For a full list of RPT Rules governing the 2012 Election Cycle, you can visit and view the updated document.





Speaking to the RJC, the candidates all promised to strengthen the alliance with Israel. | AP Photos

With the Texas primary still more than two months away, and no assurances that the GOP presidential nominating process will have been decided by then, folks in the Lone Star State are anxiously preparing for company.

Some state officials are bemoaning the fact that Texas elections have been delayed until May 29 because of redistricting court battles, forcing the state to miss March’s much-heralded “Super Tuesday,” when 10 other states participated in primaries and caucuses.

The concern was that the nation’s second-largest state would have no real say in choosing the next Republican nominee for president.

But after Rick Santorum chalked up wins in Alabama and Mississippi last week, although still greatly trailing front-runner Mitt Romney in the delegate count, there is a feeling among many party faithful and political pundits that the momentum is with him. “True conservatives” are giddy about the prospect of Santorum winning enough races between now and June to cause a brokered convention in August.

The trail to the convention would become more interesting in Texas, where Republicans are armed with the second-most delegates in the country (155). Even Californians, whose primary is in June, are holding out hope that their 172 delegates will be the ones to really decide the nominee to face President Barack Obama in the general election.

If there truly is a contested campaign in this state, it could have ramifications for others on the ballot as the GOP old guard battles Tea Party upstarts. And depending how much money the candidates and their supporting super political action committees spend on advertising, it could get dirty real quick.

Former first lady Barbara Bush, a Romney supporter, is on record voicing her disgust with this year’s campaign.

“I think it’s been the worst campaign I’ve ever seen in my life,” Bush said during an appearance this month with daughter-in-law Laura at Southern Methodist University.

Intra-party battle lines have been drawn for a while as the elder Bushes and other GOP heavyweights backed Romney, and Gov. Rick Perry, after a failed presidential bid, threw his staunch support behind Newt Gingrich.

That leaves Santorum — with his growing Tea Party, social conservative and evangelical support — and Rep. Ron Paul, who has a following of Libertarians and other big-government haters.

A new poll out last week by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research, a GOP survey group, showed Santorum ahead of Romney in Texas by 8 percentage points, 35 percent to 27 percent, followed by Gingrich with 20 percent and Paul with 8 percent.

Should Santorum hang on to that lead, who knows what impact his voters will have on down-ballot races — statewide, congressional and legislative and even county elections.

A lot will depend on who can get their message and their voters out. This is not Kansas or Mississippi.

Texas has 20 media markets, including the fifth- and 10th-largest in the country (Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, respectively). That means candidates will have to spend a lot of money on advertising and a lot of face-time in the state.

And, based on what we’ve seen in other primary and caucus states, it’s sure to get downright nasty.

The candidates, however, will try to balance their mean streaks with their softer personas demonstrated by imitating local accents, holding babies and eating down-home food like grits, biscuits and barbecue. Of course, in Texas they’ll have to add tamales to that list — and I trust none will eat the Mexican staple with corn husk still on it.

After the Alabama and Mississippi contests, The Associated Press tabulated the delegate count at 495 for Romney, 252 for Santorum, 131 for Gingrich and 48 for Paul. It takes 1,144 to win.

Because Gingrich and Santorum have vowed to take their campaigns all the way to the convention in Florida regardless of delegate count, Texans can expect to see quite a bit of the candidates here in the next few weeks.

So, get out the welcome mats, y’all. While you’re at it, you might want to stock up on some bicarbonate of soda.

Read more here: Star-Telegram

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(Foto AP/Jae C. Hong)

Santorum Wins Kansas, Romney Shows Strong in Wyoming

With primaries in the southern states only a week away, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum handily won the Kansas caucuses, while GOP frontrunner Mitt Romneyhad a strong showing in Wyoming.

“Things have an amazing way of working out,” Santorum told supporters in Missouri, where he traced his campaign through a series of highs and lows. He called his showing in Kansas a “comfortable win” that would give him the vast majority of the 40 delegates at stake.

A Fox News Latino poll of likely Latino voters, released earlier this week and conducted by Latin Insights, stills showed both candidates struggling far behind U.S. President Barack Obama.

In head-to-head match-ups none of the GOP candidates would garner more than 14 percent of the Latino vote come November, the poll said.

Returns from 89 percent of the state’s precincts showed Santorum with 51 percent support, far outpacing Romney, who had 21 percent. Newt Gingrich had 14 percent and Ron Paul trailed with 13 percent.

Santorum picked up at least 32 of the state’s 40 delegates at stake, cutting slightly into Romney’s overwhelming’s advantage.

Santorum’s triumph, coupled with Romney’s early advantage in Wyoming, came as the candidates pointed toward Tuesday’s primaries in Alabama and Mississippi that loom as unexpectedly important in the race to pick an opponent to President Barack Obama in the fall. Polls show a close race in both states, particularly Alabama, and Romney, Gingrich and Santorum all added to their television advertising overnight for the race’s final days.

Romney, the front-runner by far in the delegate competition, padded his lead overnight when he won all nine delegates on the island of Guam and then again in the Northern Mariana Islands.

Romney had 440 delegates in the AP’s count, more than all his rivals combined. Santorum had 213, while Gingrich had 107 and Paul had 46.

A candidate must win 1,144 to clinch the Republican presidential nomination at the national convention in Tampa next August.

In Wyoming, where some counties caucused earlier in the week, Romney had five of the 12 delegates at stake, Santorum had two, Paul had one, and one was uncommitted. Three more remained to be determined in party meetings on the day’s calendar.

Romney did not campaign in Kansas, leaving the field to Santorum and Paul.

Gingrich cancelled a scheduled trip to the state late in the week to concentrate on the two Southern primaries on Tuesday.

In sparsely populated Wyoming, there were 15 county conventions during the day to pick six convention delegates.

Kansas drew more attention from the White House hopefuls, but not much more, given its position midway between Super Tuesday and potentially pivotal primaries next Tuesday in Mississippi and Alabama.

Paul and Santorum both campaigned in the state on Friday, and Gov. Sam Brownback appeared with each, without making an endorsement.

In Topeka, Paul told an audience of about 500 that Kansas should be a “fertile field” for his libertarian-leaning views but declined to say how many delegates he hoped to gain.

Santorum, who hopes to drive Gingrich from the race in the coming week, lashed out at Obama and Romney simultaneously in remarks in the Kansas capital city.

“We already have one president who doesn’t tell the truth to the American people. We don’t need another,” he said.

The former Pennsylvania senator told reporters he was confident “that we can win Kansas on Saturday and come into Alabama and Mississippi, and this race should come down to two people.”

An aide to Gingrich said earlier in the week that the former House speaker must win both Southern primaries to justify continuing in the campaign.

But Gingrich strongly suggested otherwise on Friday as polls showed a tight three-way contest in Alabama.

“I think there’s a fair chance we’ll win,” he told The Associated Press about the contests in Alabama and Mississippi. “But I just want to set this to rest once and for all. We’re going to Tampa.”

Romney had no campaign appearances Saturday. The former Massachusetts governor won six of 10 Super Tuesday states earlier in the week, and hopes for a Southern breakthrough in Alabama on Tuesday after earlier losing South Carolina and Georgia to Gingrich.

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