Hastert making the rounds for Romney
By Matt Brennan For The Beacon-News March 14, 2012 10:38AM
Flanked by Illinois 50th District Rep. Kay Hatcher (left) of Yorkville, alternate delegate Marie Piraino of Roselle, Illinois GOP co-chair and delegate Gabriela Wyatt of Aurora and Illinois Romney Chairman and state treasurer Dan Rutherford, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert addresses the media before leaving on a state-wide fly around to rally support for delegates for Romney at the Aurora Municipal Airport on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 in Sugar Grove. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 16, 2012 8:07AM
SUGAR GROVE — Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and State Treasurer Dan Rutherford kicked off a string of Mitt Romney endorsement events throughout Illinois Wednesday with a morning stop at the Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove.
The duo met with several area delegates, elected officials and political candidates in the Aurora area at the event.
With the American flag draped and the open runways in the background, Hastert told a small group of people why he was endorsing Romney in the upcoming March 20 Republican primary.
Romney was able to turn the state of Massachusetts around as governor, the longtime Fox Valley congressman said. He helped revive the state from a $3 million deficit, Hastert noted.
“He’s been a businessman. He knows what the bottom line is,” Hastert said.
Hastert worked with Newt Gingrich as his deputy whip, when Gingrich was speaker of the House. He called Gingrich a friend, but said that there was a disconnect there.
“You’ll find that the people who worked with Gingrich at that time don’t really trust him,” Hastert said. “There’s always a doubt there of where this guy is going to go.”
The Romney endorsement came on the heels of former Sen. Rick Santorum’s primary wins in Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday. While the wins hurt Gingrich, Romney was able to stay ahead in the delegate count by picking up victories in Hawaii and American Samoa.
After Tuesday’s elections, Romney has a nearly 2 to 1 lead over the field with 494 delegates, compared to Santorum’s 251. The winning Republican candidate will need 1,144. All this means that Tuesday’s Illinois primary could have a significant impact for the race.
“Thankfully, Illinois voters will be able to go to the polls and sway the decision,” Hastert said.
The delegate count as the race winds down to the convention will continue to be important, Hastert said. He urged voters in the primary to make sure that they are voting for the Romney delegates in the race.
Hastert also called Romney the most likely choice to beat President Barack Obama in the general election in November.
“I think there is a strong front runner. It’s Mitt Romney,” Hastert said. “There’s also a lot of sideshows out there.”
Illinois Rep. Kay Hatcher of Yorkville and 25th Senate District candidate Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove also attended the event at the Aurora airport. Hatcher stood with the delegates at the beginning of the meeting, and also gave her endorsement for Romney.
Hastert and Rutherford had other campaign stops scheduled for Rockford, the Quad Cities, Peoria, Marion and Sauget on Wednesday.