2012 Elections: News, Analysis, Videos, and Breaking on the Presidential Election, Local Elections, and More

2012 Elections: News, Analysis, Videos, and Breaking on the Presidential Election, Local Elections, and More

Complete coverage of the 2012 election

Political Spotlight Turns to Illinois

Mitt Romney arrived Friday morning to an overflow crowd at a restaurant in Rosemont

By Lauren Petty
|  Friday, Mar 16, 2012  |  Updated 6:36 PM CDT
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GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney shakes hands with supporters Friday morning at Pancakes Eggcetera in Rosemont. Rick Santorum reaches the Chicago area Friday ahead of Tuesday's election.

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As many as 60 people stood in the chilly morning air outside Pancakes Eggcetera in Rosemont, hoping to see GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

An hour before Romney was scheduled to arrive Friday morning, there were so many people inside the restaurant that the overflow crowd was sent to the back door, where the GOP hopeful would come out after his remarks. A police officer stood outside, telling newly arriving people they needed to wait on the sidewalk.

"Everyone knows that the economy is in trouble, and given his history and his track record, I think he's the only one who can get the job done," said supporter Terry Peters Cawley. 

Romney is the latest candidate to reach Illinois before Tuesday's primary.

Newt Gingrich arrived Wednesday night, the first of the GOP candidates to travel to the Chicago area, and spent Thursday campaigning in the northwest suburbs. Ron Paul on Wednesday made the trip to the University of Illinois.

Rick Santorum appeared at 2 p.m. Friday at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights and also plans a 7 p.m. rally at Christian Liberty Academy.

Of them all, Romney remains in the lead, but Illinois is so important at this point that Romney added Friday morning's campaign stop to his schedule. He also asked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to come in and campaign for him.

Christie spoke at Elmhurst College at noon.

"Gas prices have gone through the roof in part because of this president's failure," Romney told supporters. "He's pushing for alternative energy and were pushing for an alternative president."

Romney had some competition Friday morning, though. U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky and the president of Planned Parenthood of Illinois staged a rally in the parking lot of Pancakes Eggcetera to hold the candidate accountable for comments he made about getting rid of federal money for Planned Parenthood.

"Three million people rely on us for their healthcare," said Carole Brite, president of Illinois Planned Parenthood, surrounded by about a dozen women carrying protest signs.

Romney "wants to turn back the clock on women's healthcare," Schakowsky said.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama returned to his home city Friday for a noon fundraiser at the Palmer House Hilton.

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