tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN March 20, 2012 8:00pm-9:00pm EDT
we're waiting for real numbers. let's pause for a second and see what we can report. >> all right. we can't make a projection yet. these are the exit polls. the early rounds of the exit polls. we'll get more exit polls coming in. you can see right now 45% of those who emerge from the polls in illinois, in this cnn exit poll, said they had just voted for mitt romney. 35% for rick santorum. 12% for newt gingrich. 8% for ron paul. remember. this is still the early exit polls. very soon we're going to be getting more numbers. we're not yet able to make a projection based on these first round, second round of these exit polls. we're getting more. let me walk over to john king and explain what's going on. no projection yet. but it seems at least according to the early exit polls
information, the new numbers in the exit polls are still coming in. looks like it's going to be a good night for mitt romney. >> every reason to believe that governor romney will win the state of illinois. if you've been with us through past primary nights, the people who just finished voting talking to the exit polls now. santorum does better in that lastaway. and often senator santorum has overperformed his last poll numbers. >> we're being cautious. >> we'd rather get it right than wrong. we can tell things if we look at the electorate today. we've seen this in some other states. nearly 4 in 10 voters today say beating president obama is the most important quality. if you look here, among those voters, look at that. wow. romney getting 75% to 16%. among those who say the number one priority was picking a candidate who can win in november. >> electability. >> who's the true conservative? only 20% of the electorates said
this. senator santorum's strength. it's a smaller slice of the electorate. romney running fourth on that issue. speaker gingrich and congressman paul ahead of him. let's come over and look at more here. this is among all voters. regardless of who you voted for. who do you think is most likely to beat president obama? even people who didn't vote for governor romney today think he's the strongest in the fall. that seems to be the consensus. here's another issue. 59% say no. not white born-again evangelicals. in alabama it was in the 70s. those states more favorable to senator santorum. those who say they're not born-again christians you see a romney lead. 52% to 27% there. even those who are, four in ten voters there. governor romney holding his own there. senator santorum would have liked for that to be a bigger margin. >> can we assume that illinois
will be a good suggestive point what happens in wisconsin in a few weeks? >> sure. illinois has bigger cities. most of the population, close to 50% is in the loop around chicago. wisconsin population is spread out a bit. but the milwaukee area important for governor romney. if we go state by state romney tends to do well in the urban areas and the suburbs. or breaks even or does okay. then senator santorum has done well in the smaller rural communities. the big question going forward is one more look here. a diverse electorate in the state of illinois here. come over here. i want to pull up the state of illinois in case the results come in. as the results come in, they will -- >> zero actual votes have come in. >> so far zero. this corner here -- got to make sure that keys in. this area is critical to governor romney. he could lose the rest of the state if he ran out big margins
here. this is where the people are and this is the key to his campaign. chicago proper, mostly democratic, home of the obama campaign re-election headquarters. >> 23.3% of the state's population. >> if you come out here, these are probably the most important areas for governor romney. the closest suburbs. >> between chicago and the cook suburbs you're talking 40-plus percentage of the entire state. >> then here to dupage county you're around 7%. lake county about 5%. this area, this is the romney campaign right here. not only to run up the margin, but there's several of the districts here where senator santorum does not have delegates on the ballot. this is an interesting state. you not only click for your candidate but vote directly for delegates as well. 54 delegates available tonight. if he performs up here as well as we believe he well, he'll pick up 2/3. >> anderson, this explains why
most of the money that the pro-romney super-pac spent millions of dollars in the chicago media market. almost 50% of the people in illinois, the voters in illinois are in that chicago and the suburban chicago area. >> and again, within this hour we may be very able to call this race. we'll obviously bring that to you as soon as we can. we also anticipate to hear from rick santorum possibly within this hour. also waiting to hear from governor romney as well. there's other news to tell you about. i want to bring in donna brazil as well as paul begalla, and ralph reed. also here in new york gloria borger and david gergen. say electability is the number one issue, they all go for mitt romney. you haven't been a fan of mitt romney. but that's a pretty telling
argument and a hard thing for rick santorum supporters to fight against. >> very much. he's been fighting it around the nation. my caution has been if you look at the exits in 2004, a lot went for john kerry because they thought he was the most electable. rick santorum hasn't sold himself to republican independen who lean republican. he hasn't done a very good job. david gergen was right when he said he's had a bad week and can't control on social issue. i know that most voters looking at the exits consistently even in the south they're concerned about the economy and jobs. >> paul, did it make sense rick santorum spent so much time in puerto rico? >> candidly, no. it's easy to say let's not try there. puerto rico is catholic. senator santorum is a catholic. but he got creamed there.
he got a nice tan, i guess. otherwise he was wasting his time. he walked in as gergen said earlier, walked into issues that voters are not dialed in on. that's a mistake. >> donna brazil, in terms of what the voters want, rick santorum has done well among evangelicals and conservatives. but he hasn't been able to make inroads with suburbans. >> is the economy. rick santorum continues to try to talk about issues that most people want to just talk in the bedroom. they want to talk about gas prices. they want to talk about jobs. they want to talk about manufacturing. they want to talk about agriculture. they're not interested in bringing bedroom issues into the kitchen. >> what are you watching tonight? >> well, i'm watching really beyond the geography that john king already went through which
is how well romney and santorum do in those color counties. especially dupage, suburban cook. but also what happens in places like champaign and southern illinois. if santorum's going to make a run tonight, it's going to have to be down state. the second thing i'm going to be looking at is the core constituencies. specifically tea party voters who are about six out of ten voters tonight. according to the early exit polls and we should stress this is early. they're actually going to mitt romney by a ten-point margin. even the ones who are strongly supportive of the tea party. romney's winning by five points. that's good news for the romney campaign. the other constituency i'm looking at tonight is evangelicals. which is going to be 41% of the vote. that's identical to what it was four years ago. and santorum is maintaining his advantage tonight, but he's doing so with a smaller margin.
winning nine points. >> i'm curious, ralph. this is david gergen. about what the overlap is between evangelicals and tea party. are there many who are both? and which way do they lean? >> it's a great question, david. we've looked at that in some earlier polling. and about 2/3 of self-identified tea party members are social conservatives. that doesn't mean they're involved in the tea party movement for those reasons. they're involve primarily because of spending, deficits, government overreach, and obama care. but they are social conservatives. and among self-identified evangelic evangelical, about half identify themes as members or activists. there's a huge amount of overlap. >> and do they tend to be -- with the overlap, do they tend to be moved by the social issues more or the economic issues that
romney has been stressing? is that message getting through to the tea party? sound like that's what you were concluding. >> i think for all voters this cycle, including primary voters and evangelicals. if you disaggregate the data, they're voting on obama care and spending just like everybody else. if for example -- i haven't looked at tonight. but if you looked at ohio and michigan, when you ask how many voters were voting on social issues like abortion and how many were voting on the economy, it was about 55% america aecono% abortion. that isn't to indicate these issues aren't important to people. they're very important to people and they've been a booster rocket for santorum. this guy was an asterisk in the polls with no money and no endorsements going into iowa. it's extraordinary what he's done, but i think the economic message is paramount.
>> everyone stick around. i want to check in with jim acosta. jim, what are you hearing from the campaign tonight? >> well, john brabender came in here a few moments ago and was talking to reporters. it's interesting to hear the conversation that you're talking about. i think -- i have a feeling what the santorum campaign could say. they're looking at the returns come in from chicago and the rest of illinois. they're looking at the exit polls. and brabender said we expected to have mitt romney do well on the counties around chicago. just as he did well, the santorum campaign says in massachusetts. the words moderate and massachusetts came up when brabender were talking to reporters a moment ago. i think you'll hear more of that. this banner over my shoulder we have not seen much in this campaign. it's sort of a new banner tonight.
it reads in one word freedom. yesterday we heard rick santorum going after mitt romney accusing him of abandoned freedom and going after health care reform with that individual mandate in massachusetts. we're hearing from the santorum campaign tonight that rick santorum will return to that theme and hammer mitt romney on the issue of the individual mandate. painting him as the massachusetts moderate they expect to do well outside of chicago and parts of illinois. this may not be their night, but they see other nights for them coming up like louisiana. and when this primary battle comes to pennsylvania next month. >> let's also check in with candy crowley. they've got to be feeling good tonight, candy. >> they do. look, they've seen the polls. they do expect to win here as much as you can expect anything in this campaign. what they like is a big win, a convincing win. one where we go wow, he really won a big one. maybe double digits. why? because the message coming from
the romney campaign that has not yet taken hold -- but we have heard him talk about it on various election nights when he's won, which is this is over we now -- doesn't say it that bluntly. let's all get together now because let's keep our eyes on the prize. that's november. and we want to win then. so we have to come together. they feel a big win here would first of all brush off alabama and mississippi and might inoculate him on saturday. it's a big state. it's a diverse state. they would like a wow kind of win to solidify him and put him on firm to say this is the front runner. this is all but over. let's move it on. they want not just momentum out of here. they want big momentum out of here. >> i anticipate hearing from rick santorum within this hour. probably not so much talk about illinois, but a lot of talk about louisiana which is coming up on saturday. we've got to take a quick break.
follow us on facebook and twitter. follow us. tweeting throughout the hour. also on at 10:00 tonight. santorum says he's in this race until the convention and he's got strategy to win it. does it stand a chance? we'll talk to his spokeswoman next. we'll be back. look! the phillips' lady! we have to thank you for the advice on phillips' caplets. magnesium, right?
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special "ac 360" coverage tonight. 54 delegates up for grabs. the polls going in seem to be trending in mitt romney's favor. race not ready to be called. alice stewart joins us now. thanks for being with us. a few days ago the senator said if we're able to come out of illinois with a big win, they'd win the nomination. romney won tonight. so does that mean he's guaranteed the nomination, mitt romney is? >> absolutely not. we're a far cry from anyone reaching the magic number. and all three candidates have made it clear they're going to stay in it until someone reaches 1144 delegates. there's more than 60 delegates up for grabs in illinois. we're confident we're going to get two dozen to possibly 30 delegates tonight.
that's what it's about. getting as many delegates as you can. and that's what rik's been doing. we're going to do that tonight. we look in good shape to do it on the states next on the calendar. >> wasn't he able to feel a full slate of delegates. he's not even eligible for ten of the 54 available. 75% of those who say electability is the key issue, they even say they're voting for mitt romney. that's a hard thing for your candidate to overcome, isn't it? >> well, sure, it is. but you have to consider the fact that with mitt romney with the tremendous financial advantage he has and the length of time he's been running for president, he shouldn't be in this spot. he should be running away with it. but he's up against the ropes. he outspent us in the chicago area 21-1. that's unheard of. it shows he's not running away.
and his message is not resonating with the state of illinois. rick, what we did in illinois was we focused on the areas outside the larger cities. we focused on reaching out to the conservative voters. that's what we did. we're going to get the delegates to show for that. >> there are some who say your candidate shouldn't be positioned. the race was too close to call in illinois. and he spent a. few days in puerto rico and got no delegates there. and mitt romney tripled his illinois lead. in hindsight, was it a mistake to leave the state? >> well, in terms of the decision on how we decide where to go and campaign, you know, we don't want to play armchair quarterback. rick was proud of what he did to reach tout to the folks down there. but the focus tonight is on illinois. we worked hard to go out to the areas, reach out to the conservative voters.
out of touch we the people. he has demonstrated that time and time again. what this is about tonight, this is about the candidate. it's about rick santorum's message to the state of illinois and the states coming up. they see him as the candidate who has been consistent on the issues. he's been true on his limited government, smaller spending, and certainly reining in the size of government. >> alice stewart, we appreciate your time tonight. now more on the delegate strategy. and the numerical realities. let's bring back wolf blitzer and john king. >> i want john to walk us through 1144 delegates the magic number. romney is on his way. but he's not there yet. >> it's a long way to get there. he's not quite to the halfway mark yet. the question is, the santorum campaign, the gingrich campaign not only can we block them.
for santorum to clinch, he'd have to win 70% of the remaining delegates. he's only won 20% of the delegates so far. first let's go through tonight. if romney wins tonight by the proportions it looks like it's going to be, this is early, but he'll pick up delegates. santorum will pick up delegates. >> the interesting thing about illinois, even if santorum were and he probably won't get more of the popular vote. he didn't get on the ballots. he's going to lose the delegate count in illinois no matter what. >> no matter what happens, he's left ten on the table tonight. i'm going to fast forward to the end. if this goes all the way through under this scenario we've given santorum louisiana. we've given him texas. we've given him arkansas. we've given him pennsylvania. under this scenario, romney clinches handily. to be generous to the santorum campaign, let's say they can win north carolina.
let's say they can win west virginia. and let's say indiana. let's even say they can win wisconsin. just gave him four more states. romney supporters are saying no, no, no. this is just a hypothetical to test the math. romney still wins. >> still has 1190. and you need 1144. santorum comes up with only 574. >> to block romney he would not only have to do what i did, he would have to take away one of the big winner take all. we don't expect him to win montana, south dakota. no more small gains out there. he would have to in june take away california. even look at that. even under the scenario i've been generous. that doesn't get him there. maybe he has to win california and new jersey. is that possible? yes. is it probable based on everything we've seen so far? no. they're complaining about romney's cash advantage in a
state like new jersey. advertising in new york in a huge state like california. resources matter. so i'm being incredibly generous here. most people would say that's hard to believe and that's hard to believe. and even if the santorum campaign could change all that, if they can't change the winner take alls, new jersey and california, that gets romney there. can he be stopped? yes. if he wins illinois tonight by a large margin, that's steeper. >> and no matter what happens in louisiana this coming saturday. when you say it's unlikely santorum could win utah because of the large mormon population. >> and look at the west. romney is doing well in the west. that's one of his greatest areas of strength. >> anderson, we're still unable at least yet to make a proaccident. we're getting closer. we're waiting for real numbers to come in. they should be coming in momentarily. once we get official numbers, we'll have a better sense of what's going on. stand by. >> all right, wolf.
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29% for rick santorum. 10% for ron paul. 6% so far for newt gingrich. it's a lead of about a thousand votes. 2109 votes for romney. 1126 votes for santorum. it's still very early. you saw in the exit polls we're getting more in there. but right now we're unable to make a projection. take a look at this. you can see some of these numbers. you can see more numbers coming in. 2%. mitt romney with 54%. 27% for rick santorum. 12% for ron paul. 6% for newt gingrich. about a 4,000 vote gap now between the two. pretty soon they'll be coming in quickly. but it's a very, very impressive lead so far with 2% of the vote. and right now mitt romney as expected doing well.
but there are still more ballots to be counted. >> the romney campaign would like nothing more than a convincing huge double digit win. we'll continue to follow. there are problems in 25 counties with the ballots himself. shannon travis is in weeden, illinois. what are you hearing? >> we're trying to get to the bottom of it. i got this information from bob czar. basically there's a problem with the ballot. some of the ballots estimated probably about a thousand being cut 1/30th of an inch too wide. so they're not exactly fitting into the ballot machines properly. bob told me in his county, in dupage county, he took care of the problem by reprinting some of the ballots earlier today so they do fit. he can't vouch for what other county chairman are doing in their ballots. but as you engs mamentioned, wet
been able to confirm people are cutting them down. from what he's understanding, about a thousand possible ballots that were affected in this way. and in this county some of the ballots were reprinted earlier today. >> okay. shannon, appreciate it. we'll stay on top of it. romney looking for a big win in illinois. polls had him with a 14 point lead going into this race. we're waiting to hear from rick santorum. he is expected to speak shortly. let's go back to our panel. i mean, do you think that's a big deal this ballot side? >> in a victory that could be large, probably not. but, of course, you know you want everybody to be able to vote and vote fairly. so it could be challenged, i'm
sure. but in the grand keep of things, if this is a substantial victory for mitt romney, probably not. >> david, how much does tonight really matter? in a general election, illinois tends to go democratic. >> it does but within the dynamics of this run it does matter. two numbers that jump out of the early voting patterns. one is 54% for romney. if you break 50%, that's a whopping victory. he gets a lot of credibility coming out of that. but the other number is the newt gingrich number. 6%. i mean, what? >> he doesn't exist in this race. >> he's just faded. after losing two southern races, it was a lot for him. >> paul and donna, if newt gingrich comes in fourth place, is there still an argument for him to stay in the race? >> the only argument is the one
he's likely to have with his super-pac strongest supporters. doesn't look like much for rationale. this is embarrassing performance for speaker gingrich. it does blow a bit of the theory that i and others had that this presence of gingrich was siphoning off votes from santorum. it may be that newt is such a nonfactor and santorum had such a bad week anyway, he couldn't capitalize on it anyway. maybe they're going to romney anyway. >> anderson, i wanted to mention about ballot designers. since 2000 we spent more than $3 billion to properly design ballots across the country. states were given grants to ensure that they could come up with ballots that would fit in ballot boxes. i'm surprised that illinois is having this trouble and the republicans didn't find this out early on. but this is -- this was a close
race, of course, those ballots and somehow another disenfranchising voters, that could spell trouble down the road. >> is that a flashback for you, donna? >> you know, the republicans have given me more florida moments this cycle than i've had in the previous two. hopefully they'll figure out how to count the ballots. >> can i say something about newt gingrich in this race? i think it's going to come down to louisiana next week for him. if he doesn't win louisiana, i don't see the rationale to stay in the race. >> he can't keep saying louisiana is only the halfway point. >> it may be the end point. he's got to win something. the second thing tonight in terms of mitt romney what's interesting to me is the romney campaign has always wanted newt gingrich to stay in. on the theory that newt gingrich and rick santorum would split the most conservative votes. we may be turning a corner tonight in which the romney cam
poin would like newt gingrich to get out of the race. gallop has shown that the gingrich vote would be between romney and santorum. in that case, people say this is about getting to 1144. at this point if newt gets out, it's fine with us. which is a big difference. >> it's also true, gloria, that this is one of the first states in which santorum has had a true one-on-one shot at mitt romney. and to have his numbers this far behind on a true one on one in a major industrial state is -- i think is a psychological blow here. >> here's the reason why. you have about a quarter of the voters that are independents. and romney has won half of those independent voters. that's good news for the romney campaign. they've been losing ground with independents during this process. but they seem to have brought them in in this open primary. >> we're anticipating hearing from rick santorum possibly within this hour.
if you were rick santorum and anticipating losing tonight in illinois, would you come out and speak before the results so that you don't have to dwell on the negativity? >> i think if i were rick santorum i'd go and speak and start talking about louisiana. head down to louisiana as he did on the gulf coast. won mississippi and alabama surprisingly to the extent of mississippi and spoke from louisiana. he probably needs to head back down there. to gloria's point on newt gingrich, i'm getting the sense just talking to some of the folks behind the scenes with gingrich they see the writing on the wall and it's just getting the candidate to make up his mind. it's no longer a factor for gingrich. i was speaking to a reporter in washington, d.c. who has been reading about republicans saying let santorum have it and lose so we can move past this. we have to have a conservative candidate nonsense. you've got to lot of people saying do we really want to go down with the santorum ship? >> gingrich has already -- he's running up a debt i saw a couple
articles that his finances are not in good shape. >> he's not. his campaign is running out of money. i think people forget we talk about the super-pac so much. they can't go day to day and pay the staff, it can't pay the ancillary expenses of the staff or the campaign. his campaign itself, it doesn't have money to keep going on. i'm not sure the campaign has a pulse at this point. frankly looking at the numbers i think the inevitable is happening. mitt romney is going to be the nominee. and that money's going to dry up anyway. >> let's take a quick break. let's hear from the spokeswoman for mitt romney campaign. we'll be back. foab. one night britta told me about a tradition in denmark, "when a person dies," she said, "someone must open the window so the soul can depart." i smiled and squeezed her hand. "not tonight, britta. not tonight." [ female announcer ] to nurses everywhere, thank you, from johnson & johnson.
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mitt romney may widen his delegate lead tonight. he's piling up votes in the early counting in illinois. let's check in with wrol -- wolf. >> the numbers are coming in quickly. romney with 55%, santorum 27%, ron paul 10%, newt gingrich fourth place so far 7%. 33500 for romney. he's doing well where we expected him to be doing well where the people are in chicago and the counties surrounding chicago. >> people might be saying if you got 7% of the vote and a big lead why can't you make a proaccident? we're being cautious. we're waiting for the rurals to come in. >> hold on. i want to interrupt you for a second. because i think we're getting
ready for some announcement. some news to make right now. we can now project that mitt romney is the winner of the illinois primary. based on the exit poll information, the numbers coming in as well as the official numbers. we project mitt romney wins in illinois. a huge win. looks like it's developing very, very impressively for the former massachusetts governor. not a huge surprise. the polls showed he was doing well. what may be a surprise is how well he is doing right now as we say he's got 55% with 7% of the vote. it looks like could narrow a bit, but it's still impressive. >> when you see him up that high, people say if he finishes above 50 that would be a huge victory. bit of a dose of skepticism, we've got nothing from the rural part of the state. this is where we expect senator santorum to do quite well. romney winning where he needs to win. especially in the chicago area
and the close suburbs. right around downtown chicago. 45% to 29%. that's the margin governor romney needs. in urban chicago itself, if you look at this -- >> half the vote is in. >> if santorum closes the gap, it would be because turnout is down in the urban areas. an important area for republicans. 53% of the vote. governor romney again with the two to one lead in the area there. the turnouts not so great. that's half the vote there. pull out here. if turnout is not so great here, the only question is is it much higher in the rural counties. only 8% of the vote in. senator santorum winning. it's a safe projection based on romney winning in the larger areas and huge margins in the chicago area and the circling suburbs. >> michigan and ohio and now in illinois. an important win for mitt romney. it's going to help him. he's going to get more delegates
than santorum. santorum failed to get on the ballots in 19 congressional districts total in illinois. great night for mitt romney. >> no doubt about it. we're expecting to hear rick santorum in a bit. andrea from the mitt romney candidate is here with us. do you know when your candidate will be speaking? >> i hope it's within the next hour. i haven't spoken with the campaign since i've been sitting here, but i would assume between 9:00 or 9:30 you'll see him speaking. >> this is a very good win for governor romney tonight. once again, it looks like a majority of working class voters supported senator santorum. i know the governor said he had a problem reaching these voters that he needed to work on this approach. what's gone wrong in terms of reaching those voters? >> i think what you also see is governor romney won around people who says he understands
american's problems the most. working class people, his policies will help them the most. what we've seen is that governor romney has done so well in many of these contests against a large swath of voters. >> but why do you think he's not reaching out to those voters in the way he would like? or what can you do about that? >> well, he's reaching a lot of different voters. we have 1.2 million more votes going into tonight than our next closest competitor which is senator santorum. he is reaching out to these voters. he is resonating or we wouldn't be that far ahead. and romney won with tea party voters. he won with catholics. there are a lot of groups within the republican party and governor romney has won their votes and we're excited that it looks like we'll have a good night tonight. >> illinois was a close race until you flooded the zone basically. your campaign far outspent the rest of the field put together bhap do you say to rival campaigns who say look, the governor is buying these wins.
he's outspending us 20-1. >> well first off, fund raising is part of a campaign. so is organization. that's like a basketball team complaining they lost to another team because their players were too tall. it's ridiculous. having an organization and being well funded especially when the nominee is going to go up against the best funded candidate, the incumbent president. this is all part of the game. people that are donating to our campaign promote governor romney. they're putting their money where their mouth is. we have over 100,000 voters who donated less than $180 on average. so we have a lot of people we can go back to, continue to fund raise. and we're spending our money frugally to have the money to go on. >> appreciate your time tonight. thank you. let's bring back our panel.
ralph, what do you make of what you just heard? does -- who does romney have a problem to reach out to? who does he need to get who he doesn't currently have? >> what romney's got to do is what every front runner in the republican party's had to do for basically 30 years. if you look how it's breaking out in illinois, in a way it's ground hog day. we not only saw this in michigan and ohio and some of the southern states, but we saw it four years ago with mccain. and we saw it when dole was being challenged by forbes and graham. what happens is those making under $50,000 a year, those who identify themselves as very conservative, those who identify as evangelicals. that 1/3 of the id lodeologicalt of the party. he's got to come at them on taxes, spending, health care.
he's got to make it clear to them if he's elected he's not just going to check the boxes. he's not just going to do what he needs to do to clear the bar. that he's going to fight for their views. but in the end, republicans have a strong royalist streak. what happened in the democratic party four years ago would not happen in the republican party or at least it hasn't happened since 1964. the person with the most money, the most endorsements, and the strongest organization has won this primary pretty much in the modern era since the rise of the primary. that's the direction this race is going. >> do you see gingrich dropping out soon? >> i don't know. i think newt has certainly earned the right given his service to this party to make his decision on his own timetable. obviously if they don't get more money at the super pac it's going to get tougher. >> eric erickson, will he drop out soon? >> it wouldn't surprise me.
his campaign is on life support as far as the campaign goes. is the businessman going to want to keep pouring money into the super pac? i'm not sure the super pac has done all it can do to help speaker gingrich? it's not the impact they expected it to have. whether it's before or after louisiana, i'm not sure. but i think the writing's on the wall. that this comes down to mitt romney, not only is he the front runner but the nominee. this is a clear win for mitt romney tonight in a state with blue collar voters, with industrial voters, and suburban voters. >> it depends what you mean by dropping out. after louisiana, if he doesn't win louisiana, it's over. but does it mean that he just kind of suspends his campaign and lets it hang around until the convention or does it mean
he drops out and endorses rick santorum? because i would have a hard time seeing newt gingrich endorsing mitt romney at this point. there's a lot of personal animosity. yeah. there's bad blood. so it's a question of what gingrich would do and if he would work for someone like rick santorum. >> i'm not sure it matters at this point. he's become less of a factor than he was. ever since the debates ended, he's had less of an influence. >> that's why romney people don't really care anymore. >> exactly. even if he were to endorse santorum. there was a time early on it would have made a difference. now i'm not sure. >> i want to thank our panel. the obama campaign has kicked into high gear. we speak to obama's campaign press secretary next. not that we'd ever brag about it. turn right. come on, nine. turn left. hit the brakes.
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it's that only 21% of illinois republicans strongly support mitt romney. i think that speaks to the significant trust deficit that he has with voters. not only among republicans right now but would face from independents and democrats. that's because he's completely reinvented himself and what he stands for each time he's run. i think you're seeing that play out right now. >> do you anticipate newt gingrich basically dropping out soon? >> we'll leave that to the republicans. the president's focused every day on creating jobs and restoring economic security for the middle class. it's clear that the republicans are in a race for delegates at this point. it's taking an impact on their party and their standing. karl rove said this week the primary brought out some of the worst moments for republicans. barbara bush said it was one of the worst campaigns that she remembered. and i think that mitt romney and
rick santorum and newt gingrich have been in a race to the right. they're embracing tea party economic policies. mitt romney said this week he would get rid of planned parenthood. he heard from concerned women voters about where they were going to get preventive treatment if they get that. but if he takes that funding away, where do they get their treatment? there was an of ed from a woman today who said she wouldn't have been able to have her child had the funding for planned parenthood had been taken away. >> president obama has come under criticism for reversing his position on super pacs. he's now encouraging people to donate money on super pacs. isn't he vulnerable to the argument he's flip-flopped on that? >> listen. the president has been strongly
critical of the citizens united decision. he supported legislation before congress to ensure that all political organizations would disclose their donors. and republicans held that up. we have to recognize we're in a fund raising landscape after the citizens united condition. and we can't allow that to go unanswered. we can't disarm. he certainly supports reform. it's going to take a willing partner to pass those reforms. >> ben labolt. we appreciate your time. we're going to have piers morgan on at 9:00 eastern time. we'll have another edition of "anderson cooper 360" at 10:00. [ male announcer ] this is lois.
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