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CHICAGO (CBS) – Presidential politics is taking center stage in Chicago today and over the weekend, with the top two GOP presidential candidates and President Obama making swings though the area.
GOP candidate Mitt Romney stopped at a breakfast restaurant in Rosemont on Friday morning, while his rival Rick Santorum made appearances in the afternoon and evening.
Romney aimed his rhetorical barbs at Obama, whom he blames for high gas prices and federal deficits.
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“This is an election about the soul of America, and what kind of America we’re going to have,” Romney said. “Is it going to be dominated by government and bureaucrats who think they know better than free people pursuing their dreams, or are we going to remain the nation of the free and the brave, and the hope of the earth, where people are going to be able to pursue their own course in life?” Romney said. “That’s what I represent.”
By contrast, Romney said he knew how to handle the economy properly, and would do so as president.
“We’re not going to be successful in replacing an economic lightweight with an economic lightweight, and I’m an economic heavyweight. I know how this economy works,” he said. “I’m going to get it working for the American people, because I care about the American people.”
Santorum, meanwhile, appeared at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights and blamed Obama for record federal deficits, which he called an “immoral burden” that young people will have to pay off. The conservative Republican also told students that unemployment insurance can discourage people from getting back on their feet.
The former U.S. senator cited the story of chocolate baron Milton Hershey, whom he said went bankrupt several times before finally succeeding.
“Imagine if there’d been 99 weeks of unemployment insurance. Would he have kept trying and failing? Would he have kept at it? Or, would he have taken the easier way out? How many Hershey chocolate companies aren’t founded in America today because, well, maybe we do things in an attempt to ‘help.’” Santorum said.
54 delegates are at sake in Tuesday’s primary.
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Tweaking Republicans, Obama said Friday that the hopefuls campaigning to take his job would do well to channel the moderation and inclusiveness of the Land of Lincoln.
“I’m thinking maybe some Lincoln will rub off on them while they’re here,” Obama said at a Chicago fundraiser with a minimum ticket price of $2,500. Nearly $5 million was raised, CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports.
Obama also noted the barrage of attack ads the primary season has unleashed and said they’re not exactly appealing to — in Lincoln’s famous words — “the better angels of our nature.”
The nation’s first Republican president is an oft-mentioned Obama role model, and he began a day of fundraising in Illinois and Georgia by holding Lincoln up as an example to today’s conservative GOP field.
“We’ve got some guests in Illinois this week,” Obama noted at a donor event organized by Democratic lawyers. “Apparently they have not wrapped up on the other side.”
Obama said Lincoln understood Americans are one nation, and they rise and fall together. He contrasted that with “on-your-own economics” which he says his GOP foes embrace.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)