This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
SALT LAKE CITY -- The national landscape for the upcoming Republican presidential primaries is starting to heat up as states look to move their primary or caucus date up in the year, with voters likely visiting the polls as early as late December or early January.
And with recent polling data showing President Barack Obama in an ever-increasing fight for reelection against a general Republican candidate, voters are looking to advance the best GOP candidate to rival the Democrats' hopes of four more years in power.
Furthermore, a report released by the Treasury Department last week showed a $44.8 billion increase in the total national debt since Sept. 30, meaning President Obama has increased the nation's debt by $4.212 trillion, which is more than all 41 U.S. presidents combined. The increase comes out to approximately $35,835 per American household, which only adds fuel to the Republican fire, giving voters more reasons to remove the incumbent president in 2012.
As primary season draws near, Republican presidential hopefuls are looking to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pool. Here is a look at the recent news about former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
- Mitt Romney and his Mormon religion was the highlight of the weekend, with Rick Perry supporter Robert Jeffress, a Baptist pastor, attacking Romney for his non-Christian faith; an issue that was at the forefront for evangelical Christians in the 2008 presidential race. But the religion issue doesn't seem to be the big question for the candidates, who look at fixing the economy as the major issue needing attention. "I'm not running for theologian in chief," Herman Cain said. "I'm a lifelong Christian, and what that means is one of my guiding principles for the decisions I made is I start with, do the right thing. I'm not getting into that controversy." Cain added: "If that's what it looks like, I'm dodging it, because it's not going to help us boost this economy, and you know that that's my No. 1 priority." Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said the Mormon question was ridiculous and the attention needs to be directed to other issues affect people's lives. "I think, again, to make this a big issue is just ridiculous right now, because every day I'm on the street talking to people. This is not what people are talking about." Romney, who continues to stand by his faith, addressed the issue at the Values Voter Summit in Washington this weekend, saying: We should remember that decency and civility are values too. One of the speakers who will follow me today has crossed that line, I think. Poisonous language doesn't advance our cause."
Although the Mormon "issue" doesn't seem to have the same bite as it did in 2008, many are watching to see what Romney's faith will do for his campaign this time around. However, a Gallup Poll study released earlier in the year showed that the Mormon question had less of an affect than it did in 2008, with only 22 percent of voters hesitant to vote for a Mormon.
- With Rick Perry dropping in the polls and Herman Cain moving up, Romney remains the one constant. Even before candidates had announced their intentions to run for president, many had labeled Romney as the foregone front- runner of the Republican Party. And as the race continues, several political analysts believe Romney will eventually be chosen as the GOP nominee. However, with a conservative base that is uncertain about its current candidates, many look at Romney as the next John Kerry. It is likely Romney will come down with the Republican nomination, but may not have enough of a conservative base to beat President Obama.
- Despite the surge in polls from Herman Cain, Romney remains the strong favorite in New Hampshire, a key state to winning the Republican nomination in 2012. In the most recent WMUR Granite State poll, it shows Romney with a clear lead at 37 percent, with his closest competitor, Cain, at 12 percent. Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman follow closely behind at 9 and 8 percent, respectively.
- Texas Gov. Rick Perry bypassed the religion question for Romney and released Monday his most poignant ad against his biggest rival, detailing the inconsistencies of Romney's political career. The ad contrasts Romney's Massachusetts health care law with President Obama's Affordable Care Act, saying the two were patterned after the same idea. The ad goes on to say, "Even the richest man can't buy back his past," which is an obvious attack at Romney's overwhelming fortune.
- Romney has challenged Perry on his Republican credentials, asking him why he supported Al Gore for president in 1988. "Rick Perry supported Al Gore for president," said spokeswoman Andrea Saul. "Instead of distorting Mitt Romney's record, Mr. Perry should explain why he lined up behind Al Gore's radical environmental agenda."
- An independent conservative group called "The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama," has announced they will run a series of television ads in Iowa later this month to keep Romney from winning the Republican presidential nomination. In a statement to CNN, Lloyd Marcus, Chairman of Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, said: "If you support the principle of the Republican Party platform, as I do, then it's important that we make sure the GOP nominates someone who has supported and fought for those principles. On almost every single important issues facing America today, Mitt Romney has fought against conservatives and Republicans. He's been a liberal on fiscal issues, a liberal on social issues, and a liberal on national security issues."
- The winner of the South Carolina primary has gone on to win the GOP nomination for the past several decades, making it an important state for candidates to focus on when attempting to win a party bid. Additionally, addressing the key issues for the military is a must in the state. As a result, Romney spoke to veterans about his plan to rebuild the Navy and maintain defense spending last Friday. "We all recognize that America needs to economize, but I don't believe we can economize on securing our nation and protecting our citizens and assuring that the world remains safe and free," Romney told the crowd. Email: email@example.com
Recent National Polling:
|ABC News||10/2||25||17||17||9||9||7||Romney +8|
|Pew Research||10/4||22||13||17||8||12||6||Romney +5|
|Fox News||9/27||23||17||19||11||6||3||Romney +4|