Sunday, October 14, 2007

Watch out McCain

Romney invades McCain's turf in bid to raise campaign funds
Hopeful expects he'll do 'pretty darn well'

Amanda Lee Myers
Associated Press
Oct. 12, 2007 12:00 AM
GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, on a visit to the Valley, said Thursday that he expects to do "pretty darn well" on rival John McCain's turf in Arizona despite lagging poll numbers in the state.

The former Massachusetts governor said he's becoming better known in early primary states and hopes his rising poll numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire translate to Arizona voters.

"This is kind of the home state of Senator McCain, and the expectations are, of course, he'd win here," Romney said outside Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport, where he arrived before attending two private fundraisers in the area.

"But my guess is I'm going to do just fine in Arizona," Romney added. "If I do well in the early primary states and people get to know me better, I expect to do pretty darn well in Arizona."

A recent poll shows 17 percent of Arizona Republicans would vote for Romney in the GOP primary for president.

That's compared to 27 percent for McCain and 22 percent for Rudy Giuliani, according to the Cronkite/Eight Poll, done by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications and Channel 8 (KAET).

The poll was conducted Sept. 20-23 and had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 5.8 percentage points.

Although Giuliani leads polls nationally, Romney has an edge in the leadoff caucus state of Iowa.

The race in New Hampshire, another important early voting state, is up for grabs, essentially a toss-up among Giuliani, Romney and McCain.

"I'm pleased with the fact that where I'm known, I'm either number 1 in the polls or tied for number 1," Romney said. "And if that means I can get better known in the rest of the country, that would be a pretty good indication of my future prospects."

During his 11 minutes with reporters in Phoenix, Romney fielded several questions about illegal immigration, an issue that has divided Republicans and the nation.

He said Washington is broken and fails to appropriately address illegal immigration and take full advantage of legal immigration.

"I want to secure the border. I also want to have an employment-verification system to make sure employers know who is here legally and who is here illegally," Romney said.

"If they're here illegally, then you can't hire them. . . . For those who are already here illegally, I would invite them, if they want to, to get in line with everybody else that wants to become a permanent resident or citizen, with no special pathway for those who are here illegally."

Romney renewed his criticism of Giuliani, arguing the former mayor is vulnerable on taxes because he fought to eliminate a line-item veto, which a president can use to reject spending, and because Giuliani maintained a commuter tax in New York.

At the most recent Republican debate, Romney and Giuliani upstaged everyone when they squabbled over taxes and spending, each claiming greater commitment than the other.

Romney inherited a $3 billion budget deficit in Massachusetts. His attempts to kill spending bills were largely unsuccessful; the state House and Senate overrode most of his vetoes.

Romney's overall public contributions for the year are at about $45 million. The former venture capitalist's personal investment is at least $17.5 million.

His personal assets are estimated at $190 million to $250 million, making him the wealthiest of all the candidates in both parties.

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