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New York's 95 delegates at stake Tuesday

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International   |   April 22, 2012 at 3:00 AM   |   Comments

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New York, with its 95 delegates, ranks only behind Texas and California in the number of delegates up for grabs in the Republican primaries.

Mitt Romney, overwhelming front-runner and likely nominee, has a huge lead in the empire state over the two remaining major contenders, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor making his second run at the White House, has collected endorsements from party leaders -- including House Speaker John Boehner -- boosting his polling numbers now that his closest challenger, Rick Santorum, has left the race.

"As the Republican party leadership has rallied behind Romney, so too it appears, have Republican voters in New York," Siena College Research Institute pollster Steven Greenberg said of a poll that included Santorum that showed Romney with a 33-point lead among Empire State Republican primary voters.

New York joins Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island in holding primaries Tuesday, the first primaries since Santorum announced April 10 he was suspending his campaign.

Before Santorum left, RealClearPolitics.com's delegate count showed Romney with 656 delegates, Santorum with 272, Gingrich with 140 and Paul with 67.

Romney appears poised to win in each of the state's 29 congressional districts and pick up two delegates per district, CBS News reported. He also could cross the 50-percent threshold necessary to claim all 34 delegates awarded based on the statewide vote. The state's other three delegates are party leaders.

"It's certainly a goal and one that we want to achieve, but I don't think any of us is overconfident," former New York Rep. Rick Lazio, a coordinator for Romney's New York operation, said of breaking the 50-percent threshold.

Romney's campaign already has shifted its sight to President Obama, and observers told The New York Times several comments by both camps recently give an indication about mini-controversies each campaign wants to get before the voters from now to November.

Republicans initiated a blistering attack against Democrats, taking umbrage over comments Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen -- who isn't involved with the Obama campaign -- who said Romney's stay-at-home wife, Ann, hadn't worked a day in her life.

Democrats sought to put air between themselves and Rosen. Even Obama commented that he thought comments on candidates' families was off limits and he knows how hard a job it is raising children.

But turnabout is fair play and soon Democrats were taking umbrage over Romney's comments about cutting tax deductions and government programs during a recent fundraiser, saying it was proof of the Republican's desire to "hide" things from voters, the Times reported.

"Mitt Romney has made a disturbing habit of hiding the truth," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said during a conference call with reporters.

And if Romney looks to move closer to center he faces another imposing roadblock in House Republicans, the Times said.

Several Republicans said Romney has to realize that congressional Republicans are driving policy right now.

"We're not a cheerleading squad," said Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La., an outspoken freshman. "We're the conductor. We're supposed to drive the train."

Romney already embraced Rep. Paul Ryan's budget, calling the Wisconsin Republican "bold and brilliant" during a campaign stop before the Wisconsin primary.

But freshmen congressional members, as well as veteran members of the Republican Study Committee, have shown little inclination to go along with leadership, preferring to break ranks with Boehner when they think they're right.

Party leaders say, however, House Republicans and Romney are united on key issues, the Times said.

"On the big issues -- spending, taxes, what we do with the deficit -- I just don't see much difference," Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said, "and more importantly, I don't see an escape."

But House Republicans also don't want any surprises dropped on them a la President George W. Bush, who in 1999, when House Republicans struggled with more modest spending cuts, denounced the effort, saying, "I don't think they ought to balance their budget on the backs of the poor."

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, who was a Republican leader in the House at the time, said Bush's remarks blindsided Republicans. Now, as Romney's liaison to congressional Republicans, Blunt said one of his jobs is to ensure no one is surprised like that again.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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