Gingrich Drops? Shirtless Mitt; Santorum Complains; MSM Hates Mitt; Illinois & Louisiana! (Applebee’s CEO Touts GMR’s Many Strengths — Video)

THANK YOU to all Puerto Rico voters for your overwhelming support of Governor Romney today! — CONGRATULATIONS to you and to Governor Romney!

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There has been one article after another talking about how Gingrich needs to get out of the race to benefit Santorum and to make this a two-man, face-to-face run for the nomination. Often, the implication is that the vast majority of Gingrich voters will swing to Santorum. Even the TV pundits seem to be touting some inherent weakness in Romney that only allows him to garner “one third of all the votes in any given primary” etc.

If you were to believe the MSM (and most passive voters do), you would conclude that Romney is failing miserably and that the perpetual Gingrich ego trip only helps Romney to keep the “anti-Romney” vote splintered — nevermind that Romney is winning in every category! It is simply wishful thinking and has no basis in fact (see Michael Medved’s reasoning as to why the “Major Mainstream Media” hate Mitt Romney at the end of this post).

Let’s look at what happens if Mr. Newt were to walk away from the limelight — behavior that would belie his self-interest. Dante Chinni wrote an outstanding article Friday in The Wall Street Journal, titled, “Politics Counts: Who Benefits If Gingrich Drops Out?”

The most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found the dynamics of the national race would not change dramatically if it were a simple Romney-Santorum showdown. With the four current candidates in the field Mr. Romney leads Mr. Santorum 38% to 32%. If it is just the two of them in the running Mr. Romney still leads 45% to 40%.
[…]
The vast majority of Illinois voters live in the big city Industrial Metropolis of Cook County, home of Chicago, and the wealthy Monied Burb counties that surround it. So the net Newt impact would probably be pretty small. The same would probably true in upcoming primaries in Wisconsin, New York and Connecticut.

Louisiana, which votes Saturday March 24, is a very different story. In Louisiana, 70% of the population lives in Minority Central counties and 18% live in the Boom Towns. In other words, if form follows, the Gingrich vote there could play a very big role in who ultimately wins the state. The same might also be true in states like North Carolina and Kentucky that are still ahead.

[emphasis added]

Also Friday, Gallup published an article that included the latest results of one of its surveys to show categorically who “Gingrich voters” would likely support if he were to exit the race. Do you think we will hear much about this in the MSM? It is highly unlikely! Why? See Michael Medved’s article at the end of this post.

FROM THE GALLUP STUDY:

Republican voters who prefer Newt Gingrich for the party’s 2012 presidential nomination are as likely to name Mitt Romney as their second choice as they are to name Rick Santorum, suggesting the race would not tilt in Santorum’s favor if Gingrich dropped out.
[…]
Some conservative Republicans have called for Gingrich to drop out of the race on the assumption that conservative primary voters would then unite behind Santorum as the conservative alternative to the more moderate Romney. But Gallup data indicate that Gingrich voters would not be likely to coalesce behind Santorum, suggesting that factors other than candidate ideology may be attracting voters to Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney.

Gallup can simulate Republican preferences without Gingrich in the race by removing Gingrich votes and reassigning them to his voters’ second-choice candidate. The results of this procedure suggest that national GOP preferences would change little if Gingrich dropped out. The reconfigured preferences show Romney getting 40% of the vote and Santorum getting 33%. That seven-percentage-point Romney lead is essentially the same as the six-point (34% to 28%) Romney lead in March 8-15 interviewing with Gingrich support included.
[…]
Thus, Santorum may not benefit much from Gingrich dropping out because the most conservative voters already support Santorum to a large degree, and Gingrich’s appeal to this group is not substantially greater than Romney’s.

[Gallup continues below the fold + Medved + Chart + Photos]… (more…)

Open Letter to the All-Powerful Illinois Voters — The Tipping Point is Now!

By Greg Stapley

Much has been said about the faceless “Republican Establishment” that supposedly wants this candidate or that candidate to represent the party in the upcoming presidential election. I don’t know who that is, or if such an Establishment even exists, but the people talking about it ignore one important fact: this thing is in the hands of American voters. And American voters seldom take orders from “establishments.”

Greg Stapley

This, week one state’s voters have the unique and historic opportunity to seal the decision in what could be the last meaningful contest of this primary season. Illinois voters can determine the course of history by finally picking the opposition candidate to Barack Obama.

We have some great candidates to oppose the current occupant of the White House. Every one of these contenders — Mitt, Rick, Newt, Ron — is a faithful son of the party. Each has substantial electoral credentials, and each of course has a record.

Not one of them is exactly like me or you. Each one is conservative in many things, but none of them has been perfectly consistent in all.

For example, Mitt is an economic conservative, but historically has not been as socially conservative as I am.

Rick is a social conservative, but his repeated earmarking, votes for Davis-Bacon and unbridled debt-limit increases make him anything but an economic conservative.

Ron is a monetary conservative, but he is somewhere to the left of Jane Fonda on national defense and foreign policy.

And Newt is a political conservative, but the danger for political conservatives is that they are political, and sometimes that means they compromise when they shouldn’t, and wind up sitting on a couch with Nancy Pelosi.

Nobody’s perfect.

But this is undeniable: Every single one of them would be miles ahead of Barack Obama in getting our economic house in order, putting America back to work, and restoring the American values that we hold dear.

This too is undeniable: None of them can win the general election alone. It will take all of us unitedly fighting together against the Obama machine to put our nominee over the top. And we need to start now.

The first step, if our opposition nominee is going to win the general, will be for us as voters to pull them all off of the hamster wheel that this primary has become. You know what I’m talking about: the increasingly cruel and counterproductive exercise in which the candidates are forced to constantly run around the country trying to “out-conservative” each other just to get that next block of delegates. It’s wearing all of them (and us) out, and it will ultimately damage our cause in the Fall.

And so without descending into the quagmire of which one is better than the other on this particular issue or that, it seems like it’s time to pull back and look at the big picture. It’s time to finally figure out which one is best positioned to carry the banner for American values and priorities in the upcoming general election. It’s time to put the debate amongst ourselves to rest. [more photos of romance below the fold] (more…)

Happy Birthday to Mitt Romney: Wonderful Husband, Father, Grandfather

Governor Romney!

There are so many reasons to wish The Gov many happy returns today. He’s a man of many accomplishments – a great American: studied hard in school to get good grades, made choices in his youth that made his parents proud, learned to value work, learned the value of serving others, developed compassion and leadership skills, served in his church, successfully helped to create many businesses and jobs for Americans, turned around a troubled Olympic Games to make America proud fresh after 9-11, governed a troubled, liberal state with conservative principles and turned a huge budget deficit into a very substantial rainy day fund, gives so generously of his time and money, and much more.

Among all of Governor Romney’s accomplishments he says his family is his greatest joy. He dearly loves his “sweetheart Ann” and she loves him. He adores his five sons and daughters-in-law and his 16 grandchildren. They, in return, adore him. He’s a devoted husband, father and grandfather who relishes time spent with family. Unsurprisingly, his ease with little ones is being noticed along the campaign trail:

Mitt the Baby Whisperer

Did you know Mitt Romney’s baby handling skills may be a big help in Mississippi? So says Gov. Phil Bryant, who endorsed Romney Thursday. Speaking to reporters in Pascagoula shortly after Romney wrapped up his stump speech here, Bryant cited the ex-Massachusetts governor’s child-rearing abilities when asked how he’s doing in his conversion to the South.
. . .
[H]e’s been here before. We’ve talked to him. We’ve seen him. But he just has a warm comfortable way about him. I like to see a man when he’s holding a baby. And he looks like he’s held a baby before,” Bryant said. “Let me tell you, this man is connecting with the people of this nation and it’s about those simple things. You’re not going vote for somebody you don’t like. You’re just not going to do it. And I think people in Mississippi like Mitt Romney.”

Today, I’m paying birthday tribute to Mitt Romney – wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. He could be at home, enjoying time with his family, but he’s chosen to run for the highest office in the land. Offering his lifetime of experience, he is dedicated to restoring the American dream. Caring deeply about about America’s children and their future, he does not want our burdensome, immoral debt to be foisted on their young shoulders. Here are a few photos that show his ease and joy in meeting little Americans…

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

March 10, 2012 - Romney spends time at Boston headquarters with Zac Moffat's baby.
(TwitPic Zac Moffat)

Stretch time! (Photo Getty Images/Emmanuel Dunand)

From plenty of experience, Romney knows babies love to grab ears, noses, and lips!

Jan 28, 2012 - Mitt hugs a toddler at a campaign rally in Florida. (Look at her sweet little arm around his neck... She knows she is in safe arms!)

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Floodgates Open: Support for Romney from Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Alaska


Floodgates of support are really opening now for Mitt Romney…

Today, social and fiscal conservative Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn penned a strong op-ed supporting Romney. GOP Representatives (32 of them!) in Massachusetts and Alaska Lt. Gov Mead Treadwell also issued well-muscled letters of support. Eric Cantor also stepped up to the plate for Romney.

It’s clear.

They all believe Romney’s years of private sector work and leadership skills seal the deal. Unquestionably, they feel Romney is ready to be wrapped in the presidential mantle.

UPDATE - Add former First Lady Barbara Bush’s name to the list. She recorded a robo call message for Mitt that is playing throughout Vermont:

Senator Coburn:

I’m proud to support Romney because he is a leader. What Romney has done in his 25 years in the private sector is precisely what we need a president to do in Washington. Romney has done hard things. He has turned businesses around, told people hard truths about what needed to be done, inspired confidence and overcome excuses.”

Mitt Romney Best Equipped To Solve Problems Facing Our Nation
By Sen. Tom Coburn
The Oklahoman
March 4, 2012

Sen Tom Coburn

America faces the greatest challenges of any in my lifetime. Our debt is now the size of our entire economy. If we don’t change course in the near future, we will face an economic catastrophe far worse than our recent recession.

At the same time, we’re facing a crisis of leadership in Washington. The problems and solutions are widely understood — and far from impossible to implement — yet our so-called leaders have shown little interest in solving problems. President Obama campaigned as a transformational leader, yet he has rejected transformational solutions such as the Simpson-Bowles plan that gave Washington a framework for averting a debt crisis.

Elections are about choices. This November, the most important choice facing the American people will be whether we will demand a solution and avert a debt crisis or whether we will continue to accept the status quo and hope for the best. I’m confident the vast majority of Americans on both sides of the aisle want a solution. The next choice, then, is deciding who is best qualified to enact a solution.

In life, and especially politics, our choices are seldom perfect and often difficult. But it is critically important to make a choice and support the person who is best equipped to solve the urgent problems before us. In my view, that person is Mitt Romney.

From my experience, Washington tends to be divided between two groups — leaders and career politicians. Leaders tend to have a wealth of real-world experience outside of politics and are in office to give rather than take something from their position. Career politicians, on the other hand, mean well but are ill-equipped to solve problems. Their greatest skill is getting re-elected.

Continue reading here.

From Romney’s Press Office – MA Republican Reps (32 signatures!):

If Mitt gets to the White House and has a chance to do for the country what he did for Massachusetts, we will see a turnaround in this country unlike any we have seen before.

Massachusetts Republican Representatives Stand with Mitt

Click on map to enlarge.

Over the course of this election season, we members of the Massachusetts Republican Legislative Caucus, have watched and listened as our former Governor’s record has been scrutinized by his rivals and by the national media. Now it is our turn to speak.

Republicans in Massachusetts never had a stronger leader, a greater defender, or a better friend in the State House than Mitt Romney.

Let’s start with the economy. When Mitt was elected Governor, Massachusetts was on the verge of financial disaster. Workers across the state were being laid off at the rate of thousands a month.

Our state budget was bleeding red ink, and Democratic politicians were proclaiming that only tax increases could fill the gap. Raising taxes, of course, was not Governor Romney’s way. Quite the opposite. With the same energy and intelligence he brings to every challenge he faces, he brought efficiency to our state government. He streamlined our budget and cut unneeded programs.

Without raising taxes—indeed, he cut taxes nineteen times—he balanced the budget every year of his term. By the end of four years, he had turned a $3 billion deficit into a $2 billion rainy-day fund. With the state government’s finances in order, the economy picked up steam. Unemployment at the end of Mitt’s term was 4.7 percent, a rate the state envies now.

But the economy was not the only realm where Mitt was a leader. He cracked down on illegal immigration by vetoing an in-state tuition bill and by authorizing state troopers to detain people who had entered the country illegally. When Democrats caved to the teachers unions and sought to impose a one-year moratorium on publicly-funded charter schools, Mitt successfully turned back their efforts.

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Romney Encourages Red Cross Donations to Help Tornado Victims

Aerial photo of the aftermath of a destructive tornado that swept through Marysville, Indiana yesterday, March 2, 2012. (Click on image to enlarge.) Photo AP/Al Behrman

It’s quite a day…

While we’re thinking about the caucuses in Washington State today and the Huckabee Presidential Forum for GOP candidates tonight, our aching hearts are with our suffering fellow Americans. So many lives have been devastated by the mass of violent tornadoes and storms that slammed the Midwest and south these past few days.

The images on the news, videos, and first-hand accounts of survivors are chilling.

Excellent advice from Governor Romney:

My heart goes out to the tornado victims. Please give what you can to the @RedCross.

Did you hear the story of the baby girl found alone in the cornfield 10 miles away from her home?

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A baby girl found alone in a field in Indiana after Friday’s massive, tornado-spawning storms is being treated in a Kentucky hospital.

A spokeswoman for the hospital in Salem, Ind., where the girl was first taken said Saturday that authorities were still trying to figure out how she ended up in the field alone. St. Vincent Salem Hospital spokeswoman Melissa Richardson says the child’s family is from New Pekin, Ind., about 10 miles south of where the child was found.

Richardson says the girl is in critical condition at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Ky. She says she can’t release the name of the girl or her family. …

20 month-old Angel Babcock, Indiana tornado survivor, March 2, 2012

UPDATE March 4, 2012:

20 month-old Angel Babcock was found alive, lying in a field surrounded by the bodies of her family following a deadly tornado in Indiana on Friday. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed child was found by rescuers forty miles west of Chelsea, in New Pekin, Indiana, and was taken to hospital where she is in critical condition. Angel’s older brother, Jayden, two, was found dead under a pile of rubble while the body of her baby sister, Kendall was found still strapped to her car seat. The body of her mother Moriah Brough, 21, was found by rescuers lying under a tree while father Joseph Babcock, 20, was discovered lying a few streets away.

Such a tragic story; reports are that little Angel has extended family who are with her in the hospital. May she have a full recovery and lots of love going forward.

UPDATE 2 – Afternoon of March 4, 2012: I’m sorry to report that little Angel has died of massive head trauma. In the midst of sorrow, there is comfort in believing that her family greeted their little darling with open arms. May the Babcock family rest in peace. And, may God bless their loved ones who must carry on without them.

There are no words…

Dazed Bill Lloyd carries his nine month old baby Mason down U.S. highway 52 near Moscow, Ohio. His home was completely demolished by a tornado on Friday, March 2, 2012. (Photo AP/The Enquirer/Gary Landers)

Although there have been varying reports, the latest count on the death toll is at 38. It’s expected to rise.

We at MRC offer our thoughts and prayers for all affected by this great disaster.

Donations may be given to the Red Cross here.

► Jayde Wyatt

Cincinnati Enquirer: “Romney Deserves Ohio’s Support”

Mitt Romney today received another:

(Thanks to the campaign’s official site, from which I borrowed the above graphic. I highly encourage you to go there and donate.)

The Cincinnati Enquirer today “wholeheartedly” endorsed Mitt Romney as the GOP nominee.

In an op ed piece the newspaper said of Governor Romney:

Republican voters can no longer ignore the obvious: There is only one GOP candidate for president who has the temperament, character and discipline to lead the nation. One candidate with the business experience and management skills befitting a chief executive. One candidate who can appeal to a broad enough spectrum of voters to win in November. That candidate is Mitt Romney.

We endorse him wholeheartedly in Tuesday’s Ohio primary. Romney is best suited to represent the GOP mainstream, advance a thoughtful conservative agenda, offer a strong alternative to President Obama and lead the nation into a new era of progress if elected this fall.

The article goes on to list Mitt’s conservative credentials, listing private sector experience, turning around the first post-9/11 Olympic games, his success working in deep blue state Massachusetts for conservative principles (cutting taxes and wiping out a deficit), his focus on problem-solving, his managerial skills, his cool temper and lack of debilitating ego.

And, of course, this election is going to be all about the national debt, the economy, and jobs:

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Mitt Romney Speaks Candidly of “Pastoring People” in his Congregation — Without Pay

MY PHOTOGRAPH OF THE WEEK. I love shots like this one!

Playing games with the kids

My wife and I often discuss how it is frustrating that so many people have the entirely wrong image and impression of Governor Romney. One of my goals as a contributor here at MRC is to reveal more of “the real” Mitt Romney so that Americans can make a more informed decision (it is why I include photographs of him with his family at home or at play — as above). Our frustration is expressed from time to time by others on the campaign trail. Just yesterday in Ohio a Romney supporter was anxious to ask Gov. Romney a question to prompt him to speak about his “heart.”

I found this article as a tip from an MRC “chatter” with the call sign: “WookieOnline” — THANKS Wookie!

NOTE: Be sure to click on the link (“The Note“) and scroll to the bottom of the article to watch the video to see Gov. Romney’s unusually candid comments about his service as his congregations pastor.

ABC News published this article and video here under THE NOTE.

David Muir reported on “World News with Diane Sawyer” a town hall in Bexley, Ohio provided to be a surprisingly candid moment for the candidate.

During the question and answer portion of the campaign event supporter Greg Davis took his turn at the microphone to share his frustration with how his candidate of choice is being portrayed.

“We have seen that you are very successful. It seems like the media portrays you like you don’t have a heart. I’d like you to share with all the American citizens what you have done in your life, where you have received no compensation, to show the American people that you have a lot of heart and you love Americans,” Davis told Romney.

“One of the challenges in a presidential campaign is that most people just see you in the debates,” Romney replied. “And in settings like that, people don’t get to know you very well. And in settings like this, with questions like that, you can get to know me a little better. By far the most important thing in my life is my wife Ann and I fell in love young, we’re still in love. We have a marriage still filled with love.”

As Muir reported on “World News” Romney went on to talk about his sons and grandsons, and then in a rare moment Romney brought up his Mormon faith, something he rarely discussed on the campaign trail.

“My religion is an unusual one in a number of respects, but one in particular, we don’t have a paid ministry in our church. So we don’t have a minister that is full time. And instead, the church head quarters asks certain members to serve as pastor of the congregation. So I was asked to do that for a certain period of time. And of course that is done without compensation. It would be around 20-40 hours a week. So on top of my job, I was pasturing people in my congregation,” explained Romney.

Many political observers looking to the weeks, and possibly months, ahead in this campaign say that this type of candor and emotion is exactly what Romney needs to better relate to voters.

[emphasis added]

Note: Governor Romney has spent much of his career in positions in which he served without pay. In addition to his serving in several unpaid church leadership positions, he took the Olympics out of $400 million in debt over three years without pay; he served four years as governor without pay; well after he left Bain, it had financial troubles and he was asked to come back and lead it out out of trouble, which he did without pay.

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan…” — Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address — March 4, 1865

New Polls Show Mitt Up Nationally and in MI; A Few Other Thoughts

Mitt Romney Thumbs Up

Direction of Latest Polls.

A new poll came out today showing Mitt with a 2% lead over Rick Santorum in Michigan.

Gallup’s Tracking Poll yesterday showed Mitt with a new nationwide lead, but that’s just window-dressing (note the link is to the poll as updated daily, so the results may have changed by the time you click on it; for the story at CNN click here).

More importantly, since the nomination is won state by state, the real story is that PPP‘s polling today showed Mitt up 39% to 37% in Michigan:

Mitt Romney’s taken a small lead over Rick Santorum in PPP’s newest Michigan poll. He’s at 39% to 37% for Santorum, 13% for Ron Paul, and 9% for Newt Gingrich. Compared to a week ago Romney’s gained 6 points, while Santorum’s just stayed in place.

Even better news, however, is that Mitt may have a lead in early voting that Santorum could find hard to overcome:

Romney will go into election day with a large lead in the bank. Only 16% of Michigan voters say they’ve already cast their ballots, but Romney has a whooping 62-29 advantage over Santorum with that group. Santorum actually leads Romney 39-34 with those who are planning to cast their votes on Tuesday, but he’d need to win election day voters by even more than that to neutralize the advantage Romney’s built up.

As I’ve been opining here on MittRomneyCentral, Santorum’s very socially conservative comments appear to be doing him damage, even among those that are inclined to agree with him (and I thought the damage would be mostly with the independents; also note who’s running the negative ads):

The last week of the campaign in Michigan has seen significant damage to Santorum’s image with GOP voters in the state. His net favorability has declined 29 points from +44 (67/23) to now only +15 (54/39). Negative attacks on Romney meanwhile have had no negative effect with his favorability steady at +20 (57/37). Two weeks ago Santorum’s net favorability in Michigan was 34 points better than Romney’s. Now Romney’s is 5 points better than Santorum’s. Those kinds of wild swings are the story of the GOP race.

One place Santorum may have hurt himself in the last week is an overemphasis on social issues. 69% of voters say they’re generally more concerned with economic issues this year to only 17% who pick social issues. And with the overwhelming majority of voters more concerned about the economy, Romney leads Santorum 45-30. Santorum’s winning those more concerned about social issues 79-12 but it’s just not that big a piece of the pie.

Mitt is also cutting into Santorum’s lead in key support groups:

Romney has made significant in roads with all of Santorum’s key groups of support. 2 weeks ago Santorum had leads around 30 points with Evangelicals, Tea Party voters, and those describing themselves as ‘very conservative.’ Santorum’s still winning all those groups, but by significantly diminished margins- it’s only 7 points with Evangelicals and Tea Partiers and 10 with ‘very conservative’ Republicans.

So much for not being able to convince the conservative base. Did anyone really believe that? Bueller?

A Few Other Thoughts

Mitt’s Availability to the Press. Interestingly there were two contrasting stories in Politico today, one criticizing Mitt for not appearing on Meet the Press, with the other reporting how available he has been to local talk shows in Michigan. Hmm…if I were running for a national office but the voting was state-by-state, where would I go? National shows or the ones where the voters are? (LOTS MORE AFTER THE BREAK!)

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Santorum: Separation of Church and State “Makes Me Want to Throw Up”

Rick Santorum - Unravel the Sweater

Santorum on Saturday, from the AP

In just the latest statement proving Santorum is not electable, today Santurom said JFK’s speech about separation of church and state “makes me want to throw up.”

The story was reported at Politico:

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says the notion of religion not playing role in politics “makes me want to throw up.”

“To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes me want to throw up. What kind of country do we live in where only people of non-faith can come in the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up. And that should make every American [throw up],” Santorum said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Part of the problem is, of course, that JFK was trying to address a broader question at the time. When JFK made his speech, he was trying to reassure non-Catholics that he would not blindly follow the commands of the Vatican if elected president. What JFK said that Santorum found nauseating was the following (quote below is from JFK):

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute–where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote–where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference–and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish–where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source–where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials–and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

Rick, on the other hand, says:
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