Billionaire mogul Donald Trump is actively campaigning for Mitt Romney in Ohio in hopes of repeating the rescue mission that helped Romney pull out a victory over Rick Santorum in the Michigan primary.
When Trump endorsed Romney on Feb. 2, calling him “sharp” and “smart,” some liberal observers doubted his backing would have a major impact on the race. Some skeptics even suggested Trump’s endorsement was timed to give publicity to the new season of his top-rated TV show, “Celebrity Apprentice.”
But in the days leading up to the crucial Michigan primary, Trump forcefully backed Romney in a series of radio appearances and robocalls, helping to turn what had appeared to be an inevitable Santorum victory in Romney’s home state into a narrow victory for the former Massachusetts governor. Santorum had led Romney by double digits just a week before Michigan’s vote.
Now Trump is again on the stump for Romney, calling in to radio shows in Ohio and doing robocalls for the candidate. In attacking Santorum, Trump often points to the senator’s loss by 18 percentage points in his 2006 re-election race in Pennsylvania.
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“All of a sudden, he says, ‘let’s become president,’ ” Trump says. “Give me a break.”
Trump’s efforts are apparently having a significant effect. As recently as Feb. 29, a University of Cincinnati poll showed Santorum with a double-digit lead over Romney, with 37 percent of the vote to Romney’s 26 percent.
But Romney has mounted a comeback since Trump began campaigning in Ohio. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll released Sunday shows Romney tied with Santorum in Ohio, with each candidate receiving 32 percent of the vote ahead of Tuesday’s primary. A Quinnipiac poll released Monday shows Romney ahead of Santorum by 3 points.
One tea party blogger says Romney is benefitting from “the Trump effect” — everything and everyone he backs comes out on top.
And Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson said: “If Mitt Romney is able to close this out and win this race, that gives him a leg up in going all the way to the convention and winning the Republican nomination.”
This is not the first time Trump has been seen as a key figure in a political race. His active campaigning for Republican Bob Turner last September helped him win the seat vacated by disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner in a heavily Democratic New York district. Turner became the first Republican to hold the seat since 1923.
Trump said after Turner’s win: “Bob Turner’s victory was the first shot heard around the country, with many more to come in November 2012.”
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