Ford O'Connell On AJE: Can Romney Take On Obama?

Joining Inside Story: US 2012 with presenter Anand Naidoo to discuss this are: John Nichols from The Nationmagazine; Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist and former adviser to the 2008 Republican campaign; and Faiz Shakir who worked for the Democratic National Committee and is an editor of the political blog

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Ford O'Connell On Fox News Discussing Super Tuesday And Importance Of Ohio

Ford O'Connell and Tara Dowdell join Fox News' Jonathan Hunt on Fox News Live's "On The Hunt" to discuss the passing of conservative activist Andrew Breitbart, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum's bids to become the Republican presidential nominee, Super Tuesday, the importance of Ohio in the GOP presidential primary, the possibility of a contested convention and President Obama's 2012 re-eleciton chances.

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Republicans Pick Their Fights For "Super Tuesday"

The Republican presidential hopefuls are heading into next week's "Super Tuesday" contests with different game plans but the same goal: find the most friendly terrain to make a stand.

As the state-by-state race goes national with 10 contests on Tuesday, the cost and scope of fighting on a coast-to-coast battlefield is forcing the four remaining Republican candidates to focus on states where they have the best chance to pull off a win.

Their contrasting strategies were clear on Wednesday, a day after Mitt Romney regained his shaky front-runner status with wins in the Arizona and Michigan primaries.

Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker whose hopes of rejuvenating his flagging campaign lie in the South, is treating Tuesday's primary in his home state of Georgia as a make-or-break contest. He also is hoping to score well in Ohio, the day's most significant prize, and the conservative southern states of Tennessee and Oklahoma.

Rick Santorum, now Romney's chief rival, will challenge Gingrich in Tennessee and Oklahoma. He also will fight Romney in Ohio, a politically divided state that will be a key battleground in the November 6 election, when the eventual Republican nominee will face Democratic President Barack Obama.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul is focusing on Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota, states that will hold voter caucuses rather than primaries. Paul's committed backers can make a difference in low-turnout contests in caucus states.

And Romney, who survived a near-disaster by pulling out a narrow win over Santorum in his home state of Michigan, has safe havens on Super Tuesday in Massachusetts, where he once was governor, and in Virginia, where he and Paul were the only candidates to collect enough voter signatures to get on the primary ballot.

Romney will visit North Dakota and Idaho on Thursday but will put much of his energy into Ohio, where he campaigned on Wednesday. He is unlikely to spend much time in the southern states where Santorum and Gingrich will battle, although Romney's wife, Ann, is scheduled to be in Georgia on Thursday.

For Romney, a victory in Ohio over Santorum - the latest hope of the party's most conservative wing - would go a long way toward easing some of the doubts about the former Massachusetts governor.

"It's really going to be all about Ohio," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said of the Super Tuesday landscape. "If Romney does well in Ohio and over the next few weeks, it will get harder for the other candidates to make a plausible argument that they should be the nominee."

Read more from John Whitesides at Reuters

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Odds Of A Brokered Convention Are Increasing

From RealClearPolitics' Sean Trende:

We're finally close enough to Super Tuesday to get a sense of how the overall delegate count might work out in the GOP primary. The end result: Assuming that none of the four candidates drops out of the race, it looks increasingly as if no one will be able to claim a majority of the delegates. The candidate with the best chance is Mitt Romney, but he probably wouldn't be able to wrap up the nomination until May or even June. The other candidates will probably have to hope for a brokered convention.

In short, I think the Republican primary campaign is an even bigger mess than most realize. I’d increase the odds of a convention where no candidate has a majority of the delegates to around 20 percent.

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Romney, Santorum Tie For Michigan's Delegates

From ABC News' Jonathan Karl:

Not so fast. When it comes to delegates, it turns out Mitt Romney did not win Michigan.

ABC News projects that the 30 delegates awarded based on Michigan’s  Tuesday primary will be evenly split – 15 delegates for Mitt Romney and 15 delegates for Rick Santorum.

Mitt Romney may have won the overall vote by a margin of 3 points , but Michigan awards it’s delegates based on how the candidates did in each of the state’s 14 congressional districts, not solely on the popular vote totals.

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Rock the Vote Calls Florida Law A "New Wave Of Attack"

Rock the Vote, along with other non-partisan organizations including the League of Women Voters Florida and the Florida Public Interest Research Group, is challenging a Florida law they say places onerous and confusing restrictions on voter registration efforts, with the effect of hindering voting in the state.

The bill, HB 1355, passed last April, but a constitutional challenge is being heard by a Florida court.

Ford O’Connell, chairman at Civic Forum PAC and Republican campaign strategist, said that given Florida’s pivotal role as a swing state in presidential elections, the measures are simply meant to curb abuses, even relatively innocent ones like out-of-state students voting in Florida. “Florida wants to make sure that Florida citizens actually vote in Florida elections,” he said. “Even one misplaced vote still undermines the institution of democracy, no matter what the intent.”

The common criticism of voting restrictions is that they use the idea of securing the electoral process as a cover to keep certain types of voters, largely Democratic ones, from being able to vote.

O’Connell doesn’t buy it. “You can always read into it an intent to tip things one way or the other,” he said, “but I don’t think that was in the legislators’ minds.”

Read more from Evan McMurray at ology

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Mitt Romney Struggles To Attract Conservative Support

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney not only dodged a bullet in Michigan on Tuesday, but also he regained his front-runner status for the Republican nomination and extended his lead in delegates. Yet, he continues to struggle to attract conservative support.

Romney ultimately may not ever win over conservatives. But if he continues to rely heavily on negative advertising to win contests, he risks losing conservatives in the general election (if he hasn't already). Romney must remember that conservatives may well oppose his candidacy for the duration of the primary season, but they are eager to defeat President Obama. So, even if he can't win them over, he needs to make sure he doesn't turn them off so much that they stay home during the general election and give President Obama another four years.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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Ford O'Connell Discusses Mitt Romney's Victory In Michigan At CBC

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell talks about Mitt Romney's victory in Michigan on Canada's CBC.

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White Knight Candidate Rescuing GOP Presidential Race From Possible Romney, Santorum Possible: Experts

Mitt Romney’s squeaker of a victory in his home state of Michigan has done nothing to quiet his doubters.

Though it's too late for a new candidate to get on many primary ballots, he — or she — could still theoretically win enough delegates to force a contested convention, at which a nominee would be selected through political horse-trading and deal-making.

Meanwhile, there are fears Santorum's social views, especially on abortion and contraception, are too extreme to win him the independent votes he needs to beat President Obama come November.

And if neither Santorum nor Romney lands a knockout blow on Super Tuesday -- when more than 400 delegates are up for grabs, it leaves room for a new candidate to enter the race, said several political experts.

"Santorum must win Ohio and become the preferred candidate in the South," GOP strategist Ford O'Connell told the Daily News. "Romney is really wounded right now coming out of Michigan."

David Schultz, political science professor at Hamline University in Minnesota, echoed that sentiment.

"If Romney doesn't win Ohio and doesn't perform well in the South, it shows he's unelectable in November," he said.

In total, 1,144 delegates are needed for a candidate to seal the nomination. So far, Romney has 163, Santorum has 83, Newt Gingrich has 32 and Ron Paul has 19.

So what names are being tossed around? And what are the possibilities?

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and son of former president George Bush.

Potential downfall: "He'd probably be the nominee if his last name wasn't Bush," said O'Connell.

Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana.

Potential downfall: "I'm not sure he wants to go through that headache, otherwise he would have entered right from the beginning," O'Connell said.

Read more from Alyiah Shahid at the New York Daily News


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Ford O'Connell At Politico's Arena: 'Mitt Romney Breathing Easier After Michigan And Arizona Wins?'

Romney eked it out in Michigan and regained his tenuous front-runner status, thanks to Santorum’s last minute missteps.

That said, Super Tuesday will be all about Ohio, and frankly the Buckeye State is a must win for Romney due to the state’s prominence in the general election. If Romney can’t breakthrough in Ohio, he could find himself dodging conservatives all the way to Tampa.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at Politico's "The Arena"

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