tampabay.com

Giuliani backers try to get him first on ballot

By Times wires
Published January 26, 2008


NEW YORK

New York state Republicans have touched off an eleventh-hour storm by trying to change the GOP presidential primary ballot in a way that could give Rudy Giuliani, their preferred candidate, better name display at the polls.

Picked by a lottery, the order on the ballot a week from Tuesday was to be: Ron Paul on top, followed by Alan Keyes, Duncan Hunter, Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Fred Thompson. If GOP officials prevail, the names of the three candidates who have dropped out - Keyes, Hunter and Thompson - would be removed so Giuliani gets second place and McCain becomes last of the five.

WASHINGTON

Obama gets boostfrom California groups

Democratic candidate Barack Obama, who criticized big spending by outside groups that boosted his rivals in Iowa and New Hampshire, is getting some help of his own these days as the campaign moves on to delegate-rich Feb. 5 contests.

Two related San Francisco-based groups headed by an Obama supporter are running ads and mobilizing voters in California and a handful of other Feb. 5 states, aiming to build support for Obama among black voters and young people.

Vote Hope and PowerPac.org, founded by San Francisco lawyer Steven Phillips, have reported spending about $350,000 on Obama's behalf. Of that, $245,000 was devoted to radio ads in South Carolina, which has its primary today, and in the Super Tuesday states of California, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. Separately, Phillips is undertaking a $3-million voter registration drive in 11 states aimed at increasing the number of black voters.

COLORADO SPRINGS

Romney's faith speech gets reinterpreted

An executive for one of the nation's leading evangelical groups says in a video voter guide that Mitt Romney has "acknowledged Mormonism is not a Christian faith," although the GOP presidential candidate has said he follows Jesus Christ and his church insists it is Christian.

Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy at Focus on the Family Action, said Friday that the comment was his interpretation of Romney's December "Faith in America" speech that was meant to reassure voters about his religion.

Minnery said that he spoke with the campaign after the video was posted this week and that officials did not contest his view or ask him to retract the statement. "We've got a good relationship with them." Kevin Madden, a Romney spokesman, said in an e-mail that "campaign guides by advocacy groups consist of their viewpoints."