Romney stumps in South Carolina as Mulvaney opens lead on Spratt

Paul Conner Executive Editor
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ROCK HILL, S.C. | Republican efforts to unseat House Budget Chairman John Spratt of South Carolina got a boost Wednesday when former Republican Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney stumped for GOP challenger Mick Mulvaney, the day after a poll showed Mulvaney leading by ten points.

The Hill released a poll late Tuesday night showing Mulvaney leading Spratt, a 28-year House veteran, 49 percent to 39 percent, although the Mulvaney campaign remains cautiously optimistic about the poll’s findings.

“Candidly, I don’t believe those numbers. I think we’re up by about two or three,” Mulvaney told supporters. “And we’re running like we’re down by ten.”

Romney approached the stage at an upscale suburban clubhouse with a light jog and told the crowd of about 500 that “Republicans are taking back America.”

“Remember a couple years ago when Time magazine had an elephant on the cover and it said ‘endangered species’? Chris Matthews said his leg was tingling. You had Oprah saying Barack Obama was ‘the one.’ It was extraordinary,” Romney said. “Things have changed.”

Mulvaney continued to hammer Spratt on health care. Spratt was the sole sponsor of the final version of the health care bill that passed narrowly in the spring.

“I’ve had several businesses call me and say, ‘By the way, our premiums are going up 100, 120, 140 percent,” Mulvaney told the crowd. “For anyone who wanted to try to predict the future on health care, it was pretty easy to see.”

Romney’s political action committee, Free and Strong America PAC, targeted the Spratt-Mulvaney race as part of the PAC’s “10 for ’10” initiative. Free and Strong America PAC gave the Mulvaney campaign $2,500 in late March.

The former presidential candidate continued his jaunt across the country in support of Republican candidates in some of the most competitive races Wednesday night. He delivered a “tele-townhall” in support of U.S. Senate candidate from Nevada Sharron Angle Monday.

Romney has also made several appearances in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina in the past week. He spoke at the New Hampshire Republican Party’s biannual state convention Saturday and stumped for Terry Branstad, GOP candidate for Iowa governor Tuesday.

All three states have early presidential primary contests. Romney finished fourth in the 2008 presidential primary in South Carolina with 15 percent of the vote, behind Arizona Sen. John McCain, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson.

Wearing a striped white shirt with rolled up sleeves and dark pants, Romney shook hands and took pictures with supporters after the speech here, but so far, South Carolina donors have not favored his PAC.

The PAC has received 3,201 individual contributions from early 2009 to Oct. 13, and only a handful – under 10 – have been from individuals with South Carolina addresses, according to a Daily Caller analysis of Federal Election Commission records.

After initial reports that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had chosen to back off its financial support for Spratt, the DCCC has spent over $600,000 on ads in the state’s 5th Congressional District.