Romney visit to Delaware still not sitting well with GOP leaders

As Delaware’s presidential primary approaches, there are still some hard feelings about the way Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney made his only visit, so far, to the First State.

Just hours before visiting a Wilmington factory for a campaign stop last Tuesday, Mitt Romney became the undisputed frontrunner for the GOP nomination when his nearest competition Rick Santorum announced he was dropping out of the race.  It was also the day Delaware Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Cragg and Lt. Governor candidate Sher Valenzuela were touring the state’s three counties to officially kick off their campaigns.

And that’s where the kerfuffle with the Romney campaign stems from.  Romney’s appearance in Wilmington was scheduled at the same time as Cragg and Valenzuela’s New Castle County event.  Even more than a week later, Delaware GOP chairman John Sigler says the overlap was disappointing.  “The Romney campaign has made a decision not to be here except for one appearance that quite frankly walked all over our Gubernatorial and Lt. Governor announcements.”  On the other hand, Newt Gingrich, Sigler points out, has made several campaign stops in Delaware and may even be in the state on primary day, Tuesday, April 24.

Sigler says the Romney campaign’s decision to schedule his event during the Cragg announcement may negatively impact the number of votes Romney gets in Tuesday’s primary from Cragg and Valenzuela’s grassroots supporters.  “Someone didn’t plan very well.  That someone wasn’t the Delaware GOP.  That someone was someone inside the Romney campaign.”   

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There wasn’t much of a conversation between the campaign and Delaware GOP leaders to coordinate things before the visit.  “Essentially the conversation – to the extent that there was a conversation – is ‘We’re coming to town, we’re the big show and we’re going to do what we want to do.'”

Cragg was given a chance to briefly speak to the crowd before Romney came out, but Sigler says Romney declined an invitation to make an appearance at Cragg’s rescheduled campaign announcement following the Romney rally.  “It was not that much of an imposition on [Romney] to go over and support our candidate.  Quite a disappointment in many respects.”

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