The Daily Rundown | March 19, 2012
>>> monday, march 9th , 2012 . the last full day of winter. this is "the daily rundown." i'm chuck todd . let's get to my first read of the morning. in less than 48 hours , mitt romney gets his next midwestern test. can rick santorum do what he's done in every midwestern battleground state yet and turn it into a nail biter. romney started his day in illinois with another win under his belt. he walked away with landslide victory in puerto rico 's primary. romney said that his victory signaled republicans can win hispanic voters in november.
>> this isn't some little island . it's 4 million people. if it were a state, it would be the 25th largest state in the country. those people who don't think that latinos will vote for republicans need to take a look in puerto rico .
>> santorum who made a tactical choice to take two days away from campaigning in illinois to try to keep romney 's puerto rico delegate number down released a statement allegedly in congratulations but saying "we know mitt romney will do and say anything to get votes and this is just another example of that. i think 90% of americans who believe english should be the official language of this country must be wondering why mitt romney disagrees with that." now on to illinois where romney and supporters are outspending santorum 7 to 1. no question who will win the delegate fight tomorrow. santorum is only eligible for 44 out of illinois 's 54 delegates but santorum says he can squeak out a surprise victory in the popular vote .
>> if we're able to come out of illinois with a huge or surprise win, i guarantee you that we will win this nomination.
>> this morning on " morning joe ," i asked santorum about how he plans to convince republicans he has got it together enough organizationally to challenge president obama in the fall.
>> chuck, you know that the organizational issue that i had in illinois and ohio and a couple other states, these delegates had to be filed in november and december. i'm in the state of iowa and i have as you know limited resources going around driving around in a truck with a guy named chuck in a dodge ram pickup truck doing town hall meetings .
>> still, it is a problem for him. he could lose as many as -- he could only get as many as 20 delegates tomorrow. 21. the way this system works in illinois , wait until i show you the ballot that republicans in illinois will look at tomorrow. we've got these ballots up. they are crazy and they mean bad things for santorum delegatewise because of the order of the ballot. santorum responded to romney 's charge that he's an economic light weight .
>> i'm convinced that america is going to have the best chance of replacing an economic light weight if we nominate an economic heavy weight. senator santorum has the same economic light weight background.
>> of course when he was governor of massachusetts , his heavyweight record was 47 out of 50 in job creation .
>> let's look at big numbers here. after picking up 20 delegates in puerto rico , nominee has 443 delegates in his column. that's double santorum 's 184. romney , whose campaign made the math argument for weeks, the candidate himself made the math argument, says he's now not paying attention to the math.
>> i know a lot of people will talk about delegates and strategies and math and that's interesting to the insiders but i think the american people want to see someone who has the leadership, skill and experience to defeat the president.
>> somebody got the message memo by the way. stop talking about the math. santorum is looking ahead to louisiana's primary this coming saturday. he spent yesterday at lsu and baton rouge getting batting practice.
>> got on top of that ball. lsu baseball very, very big. more important than basketball at lsu . only second to football. and in the latest sign santorum will not leave much of anything on the table, romney 's dog on the roof story got a mention yesterday from santorum .
>> as far as shameless the dog, all i would say is issues of character important this election and we need to look at all of those issues and make a determination as to whether that's the kind of person you want to be president of the united states .
>> talk about this more later in the show but it's interesting to me two big democratic talking points against romney that santorum is picking up on. one is the idea that romney doesn't have a core using the exact phrase and words that david used. this marathon campaign led to increased talk that nomination fight could for the first time in 36 years go all of the way to the convention. republican heavyweights including the nominee last time around did more hand wringing about the party on sunday.
>> it's the nastiest i've ever seen. it's gone way too long and gotten way, way too personal.
>> i don't think anybody in their right mind think the way the primaries have played out is good for republican chances.
>> so if that's the case, this was kind of striking. haliley barbour says it may not be bad for the party.
>> it's left between voters. we've had twice, three times really, governor romney look like he was poised to begin coalescing and he lost the next week. a contested election isn't bad.
>> is this a former chairman of the rnc, as big as part of establishment is he, is he in inviting primary voters to engage in this? he said he voted for newt. mccain weighed in on the controversial arizona bill saying they are using birth control for uses other than preventing a pregnancy. he scolded the party for focus on the contraception issue.
>> do you think there is something of a war on women among republicans?
>> i think we have to fix that. i think there's a perception out there because of the way that this whole contraception issue played out. we need to get off of that issue in my view. i think we ought to respect the right of women to make choices in their lives and make that clear. get back on to what the american people really care about. jobs and the economy.
>> mccain wasn't the only one who dinged the party on contraception. listen to this jab by scott brown at a st. patrick's day roast yesterday in south boston .
>> i see that both newt gingrich and rick santorum now have secret service with them on the campaign trail. in santorum 's case i think it's the first time he's ever used protection.
>> senator conan o'brien called, he wants his joke back. as more cities face $4 gas, republicans are trying to turn high prices to their advantage on the trail.
>> this gas hike trio has got to resign or get fired. we have to get them out and get people in who will bring down the cost of gasoline.
>> the white house continues to act like a white house that's very concerned about this issue. later this week the president is spending two days on the road talking about what the white house believes is a better story to tell on energy than they are getting credit for. obama will make stops in nevada, new mexico and ohio and cushing, oklahoma. it will be the first trip to oklahoma since obama has been in office and the campaign announced that it raised more than $45 million for the campaign and the dnc combined in the month of february. that's more than twice of what they did in january. for an incumbent president, he's doing surprisingly poorly with big donors. according to analysis by "the washington post " this morning, at this point in the last election cycle, candidate obama received donations of over $2,000 from more than 23,000 different people. more than double the 11,000 who have given him that much this time around. president george w. bush had more than four times that number of big donors at this point in his re-election in 2004 . speculation in the peaiece as to why? complacency about the campaign. now we know why the president is devoting so much time lately attending campaign events.