Chicago Sun-Times
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Santorum, Romney battle for Illinois conservatives

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By Lynn Sweet and Dave McKinney
Sun-Times Washington and Springfield Bureau Chiefs

CHICAGO--For Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, it's about picking up delegates in the Tuesday Illinois primary, not clinching the popular vote.

Romney, facing a tougher battle in Illinois than he expected, is showcasing his conservative credentials -- because the GOP battle in Illinois between Santorum and Romney is over the conservative vote.

On Saturday, the Romney campaign posted a video of Santorum praising Romney as a conservative during Romney's 2008 White House bid.

The Sun-Times has learned that Romney will deliver a speech on "economic freedom" Monday at the University of Chicago -- where President Barack Obama taught and where First Lady Michelle Obama worked at the Medical Center.

The U. of C. location was selected with Obama in mind to contrast Romney's economic policies with the president at a school that has produced some of the nation's leading conservative economists.

The Romney campaign also is announcing Sunday the endorsement of Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) a respected conservative with ties to the religious right in Illinois.

On Sunday, the former Massachusetts governor holds a town hall in Vernon Hills -- in an area that could be a Santorum delegate stronghold -- not far from where he attended his senior year in high school in Mundelein.

Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) is expected in Chicago on Monday to do a media blitz on behalf of Romney.
For his part, Santorum spent Saturday in Effingham, Mount Vernon and Herrin -- cities in southern Illinois congressional districts with potential for electing Santorum delegates.

In Effingham, Santorum appealed to his conservative base, telling voters to "outvote your friends up in the Chicago area." Romney is expected to do well among moderates in Chicago and the suburbs.

To underscore Santorum's appeal to conservatives, reality TV stars, the Duggar family, will attend services at the Moody Bible Church in Chicago. On Monday Santorum will seek to identify himself with Illinois' native son, President Ronald Reagan, by visiting his childhood home in Dixon.

At stake in the Tuesday primary are 54 delegates. Santorum starts with a delegate deficit, filing for only 44 of the 54 slots. The Illinois popular vote--also called a beauty contest--has no impact on the selection of delegates. Romney is expected to do well in the popular vote--with most of the moderates in the state from Chicago and the suburbs around the city.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 18, 2012 11:34 AM.

Romney at the University of Chicago on Monday was the previous entry in this blog.

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