Mitt Romney will begin a full day in the southern part of the majestic Grand Canyon State today and work his way north. Here’s a look at his schedule:
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Event: Mitt Romney Holds A Business Roundtable
When: 9:30 AM MST
Location: Jim Click Ford Lincoln East Dealership
6244 East 22nd Street
Sun Lakes (near Chandler)
Event: Mitt Romney Holds A Town Hall Meeting
When: 3:00 PM MST
Location: The Oakwood Clubhouse at Sun Lakes
24218 South Oakwood Boulevard
fundraiser – Tempe Center for the Arts
Mitt Romney’s visit today officially kicks off the 2012 presidential campaign in Arizona, an important GOP battleground state that now is set to have an earlier-than-most primary.
Romney, a former Republican Massachusetts governor who is coming off a strong performance in Monday’s CNN/Tea Party Express GOP debate, is staking out ground in a state that, despite its size, is ground zero for issues that resonate on a national level and will play well in the battle for the Republican nomination.
Those include illegal immigration and border security, the economy, the mortgage meltdown and Social Security.
South Carolina GOP to leapfrog AZ primary
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday ended speculation about the date of the state’s presidential-preference election by issuing a proclamation declaring that it will be held Feb. 28, the same day as South Carolina’s Republican primary and a week before Super Tuesday, March 6. Brewer had flirted with moving the date to Jan. 31, a decision that could have upended the entire primary calendar by forcing traditional early states Iowa and New Hampshire to shift their dates into December.
South Carolina still is threatening to move up its primary, and Arizona, because it is violating party rules by holding its primary before March 6, faces the penalty of losing 50 percent of its delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Brewer also has persuaded the Republican National Committee to tentatively authorize a GOP presidential debate for Arizona, which also could raise the state’s profile during the primary season.
Arizona’s presidential-preference election is early enough to be important but late enough that some of the more minor contenders will have been “winnowed out,” said Patrick Kenney, director of Arizona State University’s School of Politics and Global Studies.
By late February, the GOP could be down to Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has been leading Romney in the polls but who came under fire in Monday’s debate from conservative rivals such as Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
Perry took shots over his immigration policies, which some opponents suggested were too liberal, and for a controversial 2007 executive order that required girls to receive a new vaccine against human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can be a precursor to cervical cancer.
Kenney said none of the GOP White House hopefuls can afford to forfeit and ignore Arizona early on.
“I think any state, prior to and including Super Tuesday, is considered important by all of the candidates,” he said.
Members of Tucson’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hope Romney focuses on job growth in their area:
“Definitely hoping he focuses on job growth here and addresses the need for skilled workers, education and investment in our Tucson market,” said Danielle Duarte, with the Young Professionals.
Leaders of the Hispanic Chamber agree, especially since Arizona’s unemployment rate is hovering around 9.4%.
President of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Lea Marquez Peterson says job growth is a concern for many people in the area.
“As we know, just in the Tucson area over 90% of our businesses are small businesses so what can the federal government do to stimulate small business recovery.”
Romney is in Sheriff Joe Arpaio country…
In preparation for his visit, Romney phoned Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a Western icon for his advocacy of tough immigration reform. Arpaio granted Romney his support over fellow Arizonan John McCain four years ago, in part over differences on immigration. He wants to give the full field a good look this time before he decides whom to back. It’s not surprising, then, that Romney aides have called Arpaio weekly recently to court him for another endorsement.
(emphasis added to articles)
Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Michele Bachmann are also courting Sheriff Joe. Cain has met with him personally and Bachmann is meeting with him today. Arpaio says he won’t offer his support to anyone until he has been asked for it directly.
Gov Romney, ask for Arpaio’s support today!
► Jayde Wyatt
~UPDATE from Ross
Here’s a summary of Mitt’s time in Arizona.