Talent plays up caucus challenge for Romney, appeals for backers to turn out
Former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent and state Auditor Tom Schweich were all about Mitt Romney’s business acumen – and not his talked-about TV comment to “get rid’’ of Planned Parenthood – as they made their pitch Wednesday evening to a couple dozen supporters at the Republican presidential frontrunner’s state campaign headquarters in downtown Clayton.
Both high-profile Republicans plan to be busy through Saturday, as they help Romney during the first round of Missouri’s complicated Republican caucuses.
Talent told his audience at the campaign headquarters that Romney’s candidacy offered “a once-in-a-lifetime chance’’ to elect a businessman to the White House who, in Talent’s opinion, has a better grasp of how to get the nation’s economy back on track.
Talent also cited Romney’s compassion, recounting the lengths he went to – while at Bain Capital – to hire private investigators to track down the missing teenage daughter of a colleague.
Talent’s chief pitch was that Missourians who back Romney must show up at the caucuses on Saturday.
Talent allowed during an interview that he’s among many Republicans (such as former U.S. Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond) who would have preferred a statewide primary that counted or a caucus system that could it clearer – and earlier – who’s winning most of the 52 Republican presidential delegates.
“This has been handled in a way that will minimize Missouri’s impact’’ in the national GOP presidential campaign, Talent said. “There’s a fair number in Missouri who probably don’t know we have a caucus.”
Talent sighed when asked about Romney’s Planned Parenthood comment, made in an interview with KSDK (Channel 5) while the former Massachusetts governor was in Kirkwood Park for a campaign rally.
The Democratic National Committee has gone all-out to highlight the comment, which also was denounced Wednesday by several Democratic women officeholders in a flurry of emails and in a conference call with reporters.
Talent said Romney was simply making the point that a number of things now financed by the federal government will need to be eliminated if the federal budget deficit is to be dramatically trimmed.
The reference to Planned Parenthood is “simply in the context of his spending policy,’’ Talent said. Romney’s overarching question for each federal expenditure, Talent continued, is: ‘’Is it worth borrowing money from the Chinese?”
Talent noted that the cornerstone of Romney’s budget-balancing plan is to curb the growth of Social Security and Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor and disabled.
As for Saturday’s caucuses, Talent and Schweich each said they’ll go to the caucus sites where the Romney campaign believes each can do the most good.
In southwest Missouri, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft (also a former governor and senator) is slated to stump for Romney Saturday by attending a caucus in Greene County.
Talent, by the way, pointed out that for all the attention played to rival Rick Santorum’s victories Tuesday in Alabama and Mississippi, Romney actually won more delegates – particularly when his victory in Hawaii is included.
“We won the day,’’ Talent said.
Now, his aim is to say the same after Saturday, when Missouri’s caucus process gets into full swing.
Start of update: U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said he also plans to stump for Romney by attending caucuses Saturday in southwest Missouri.
Blunt is Romney’s point person for lining up endorsements on Capitol Hill. “I’ll be at a couple of the [Missouri] caucuses on Saturday,” Blunt told reporters in a conference call Thursday morning. “And I hosted a conference call with members [of Congress] supporting him this morning.”
Blunt said he was not worried about Santorum's win in
Alabama and Mississippi. “When you really look at the numbers, they
are very close, and Romney will carry those states if he’s the nominee.”
Blunt added: “I believe he will be the nominee, and he will carry the
southern states in the fall, I think, without exception.” End update.
Robert Koenig, the Beacon's Washington correspondent, contributed information for this article.