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The Mechanics
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National Politics Tue Jan 03 2012

Illinois Pols on the Romney Train in Iowa

by Tyler Davis

DES MOINES, Iowa - Many prominent Illinois political figures, including four in the U.S. Congress, and Illinois business-people have endorsed former Gov. Mitt Romney, but endorsements may not have much of an impact on Iowa caucus results, said some Iowa Republicans.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, a Republican representing Illinois' 18th district, joined Mitt Romney on the campaign trail.

"We were in Davenport on Tuesday, and we criss-crossed around the state on Wednesday," said Schock. "I introduced him at each stop and told why I support him."

Schock has endorsed Romney because "he's the most qualified to take on President Obama," and that, "once he is elected, he can do the job."

Schock is also on Romney's national finance committee, where he helps raise funds for the campaign. He will be campaigning with Romney in Iowa on caucus day.

First-term Illinois Senator Mark Kirk also endorsed Romney, as well as U.S. Reps. Judy Biggert and Robert Dold, former U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, according to Romney's campaign website. Rutherford is also the Illinois chairman for the Romney campaign and has donated $2,500 to the campaign.
Biggert donated $1,000 to the Romney campaign.

Hastert and Rutherford also endorsed Gov. Romney in 2008.

Iowa caucus participants, however, might not be paying much attention public endorsements and fundraising numbers.

"Endorsements don't make a huge difference in the long run [in Iowa]," said Kevin McLaughlin, chairman of the Polk County Republican Party in Polk County Iowa.

"What I think is a bigger deal are the people who stand up and speak for a candidate at the caucus," said Polk Count GOP chairman McLaughlin, referring to a portion of the caucus where individual representatives give a pitch of their candidate at each precinct.

"A prominent heart surgeon in Des Moines, Dr. Ronald Grooters, will be standing up for Newt Gingrich," said McLaughlin. "That might sway some people, especially if he's performed surgery on them."

"Endorsements might matter to the people who have been here [in Iowa] volunteering for months.The people who are more politically active," said McLaughlin.

Romney also has strong support from businesses in Illinois.

Of Romney's $32.2 million raised nationally, $679,714 of it came from Illinois, according to the last campaign finance report covering April through September of last year, the latest the data was available. Seventy-eight percent of the funds from Illinois came from contributions of $2,000 or more.

Chicago contributions account for $202,933 of Romney's funds raised in Illinois. Many in the Chicago business community have contributed, from attorneys and investment bankers to owners of Chicago restaurants like Tamarind in the South Loop and Arun's Thai in Irving Park, according to the campaign finance report. Neither restaurant owner could be reached for comment.

Also traveling with Romney last week were New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, said Schock.

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