Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul head to Illinois Wednesday ahead of next week's primary. Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney follow them to town Friday and Monday, respectively.
Following wins by Rick Santorum in Mississippi and Alabama, GOP presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul wasted no time shifting focus to Illinois.
Ahead of Tuesday's local primary, Gingrich planned a busy two-day schedule in President Barack Obama's home state.
Arriving at O'Hare International Airport on Wednesday, Gingrich reiterated that he's in the race for the long haul.
"I am here all the way to Tampa," he said, referring to the Republican Convention in August. He stressed that Illinois is a "very important part of the whole process" of gathering delegates "to make an impact at the convention."
Gingrich addressed a small crowd of supporters at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in suburban Rosemont before delivering remarks at the Northwest Suburban Republican 2012 Lincoln Day Dinner in Palatine.
Paul steered clear of the Chicago area in favor of the University of Illinois in Champaign, appearing at a rally at George Huff Hall.
Gingrich begins Thursday with morning stops at Barrington High School and Goddard School in Lake in the Hills. He stops at a town hall meeting at Judson University then heads to Sunny Hill School in Carpentersville for a tour. He ends at a 7 p.m. rally at a corporate hangar in Lake in the Hills.
Mitt Romney arrives in Illinois Monday and is expected to appear at an election-night rally near Wheaton. Six staffers have been sent ahead of him to pump up supporters.
Meanwhile opponent Rick Santorum, a 1978 graduate of Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, will appear at a 2 p.m. rally Friday in Elgin and a Niles rally from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Northridge Prep Gym. On Saturday, he heads to southern Illinois.
Obama heads to Chicago Friday for fundraising. The trip includes a swanky lunch at the Palmer House Hilton.
At stake in the March 20 primary are 54 delegates. Another 15 will be chosen later by party leaders.