CBS 2 Chicago wbbm7801059 670 The Score

Local

Romney, Santorum Court Votes Across Illinois

View Comments
Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum

Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney (left) and Rick Santorum are both campaigning in Illinois Monday. (Credit: CBS)

Don't Miss This

Get Breaking News First

Receive News, Politics, and Entertainment Headlines Each Morning.
Sign Up

Updated 03/19/12 – 4:34 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were both traveling across the state on Monday to stump for votes a day ahead of the Illinois primary election, which is playing a pivotal role in the GOP presidential race for the first time in decades.

Romney started his day in Springfield, before visiting President Barack Obama’s old stomping grounds at the University of Chicago.

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, the auditorium at the Harris School of Public Policy’s International House was relatively small, but more than filled by the Romney campaign, students and others.

Romney told U of C faculty and students and his supporters his economic plans would take the country in the right direction, claiming Obama’s big government ways stifle economic freedoms and thwart entrepreneurs.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports


“Instead of expanding government, I’m going to shrink it. Instead of raising taxes, I’m going to cut them. And instead of adding more regulations, I’m going to reduce them; with an overriding concern – do they help, or do they hurt jobs?” Romney said.

As CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports, the U of C, located in the Hyde Park neighborhood, might be considered Obama’s turf, but it was also home to Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman, considered the patron saint of conservative economic policy.

“Milton Friedman understood what, frankly, our president, President Obama, I don’t think has learned; even after three years and hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending,” Romney said. “And that is: government does not create prosperity. Free markets and free people create prosperity.”

He said government regulations stifle innovators in the business world.

“They just struggle to get a loan from their community bank. A regulator would have shut down the Wright brothers for their dust pollution,” Romney said, drawing a few chuckles from the crowd. “The government would have banned Thomas Edison’s light bulb. Oh yeah, they just did.”

Romney was referring to 2007 legislation, signed by then-President George W. Bush, which set new energy-savings standards for light bulbs, beginning this year. Backers of the legislation have said, because incandescent bulbs cannot meet the standards in a cost—fficent way, they will be phased out in favor of more energy-efficient LED and fluorescent bulbs. However, last December, Congress passed legislation stopping the government from enforcing the new standards.

Taking written questions from the crowd, Romney said he would confront poverty on Chicago’s South Side by taking federal anti-poverty funds and giving them to the states to use as they see fit.

The crowd Romney encountered in Peoria later in the day wasn’t always friendly. A woman there yelled that she wanted free birth control.

“If you’re looking for free stuff you don’t have to pay for, vote for the other guy – that’s what he’s all about,” Romney said, referring to incumbent President Obama.

Romney made no mention of his closest GOP rival, Rick Santorum, who was vowing to take his fight for the GOP nomination all the way to the Republican Convention.

As CBS 2′s Dana Kozlov reports, Santorum also was making the rounds in Illinois on Monday, making sure he gets face time and spends time with voters before they head to the polls on Tuesday, in a state that wasn’t expected to matter at the start of the GOP race.

“It is great to be here in Rockford, Illinois, on the day before what could be a very big and surprising day here in the state of Illinois,” Santorum said at one of several campaign stops criss-crossing the state on Monday.

It’s a state that Santorum didn’t expect to be visiting a mere month ago. But voter tides have turned, prompting Santorum to visit a handful of cities and bash his Republican rival.

“I heard Governor Romney here call me an economic lightweight, because I wasn’t a Wall Street financier like he was,” Santorum said. “You really believe this country wants to elect a Wall Street financier?”

Santorum and Romney didn’t cross paths in Illinois on Monday, but they pushed for votes in a primary that could push Santorum closer to the nomination, or potentially end his run.

Despite courting Illinois voters Monday, Santorum will not be here during the primary on Tuesday. He will hold an election night gathering his home state, in Gettysburg, Penn.

Currently, Romney leads the Republican presidential race with 521 delegates, compared with 253 for Santorum. Both are pinning their hopes on Illinois now, where they are running fairly close. At stake in Illinois are 54 delegates, 10 of which Santorum is ineligible to receive, as he has no delegates slated in some congressional districts.

Monday morning, Romney stopped at a small but popular Springfield diner as the sun rose, greeting the hundreds who stood outside and packed inside. He’s taking aim at President Barack Obama, instead of his Republican competitors. Romney specifically targeted gas prices, which in Springfield are hovering around $4 a gallon.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Alex Degman reports


“Remember he said that if his policies got put in place, his cap and trade policies, energy prices would skyrocket. He was asked about a big gas price hike, he said he wanted it to be more gradual. Well, we’re seeing the effects of his policies,” Romney said.

Both Romney and Santorum were canvassing several parts of the state Monday. In addition to Chicago and Springfield, Romney was scheduled to visit Peoria.

In addition to Rockford, Santorum was scheduled to make campaign stops in Dixon, Moline and East Peoria.

View Comments