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Political Notebook

Brown aide departing to join Romney’s emerging campaign

President Obama was greeted at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago yesterday. He traveled to his hometown for political fund-raising events. President Obama was greeted at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago yesterday. He traveled to his hometown for political fund-raising events. (Jason Reed/Reuters)
April 15, 2011

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WASHINGTON — Senator Scott Brown’s communications director is leaving to join Mitt Romney’s emerging presidential campaign, the former Massachusetts governor said yesterday.

Gail Gitcho, who joined Brown’s staff as he took office in February 2010, had served as a regional press secretary during Romney’s 2008 presidential bid. She later was the mid-Atlantic communications director for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and then served as national press secretary for the Republican National Committee.

Gitcho is making the switch at a crucial time for both Republicans. Brown will be preparing to run for reelection in Democratic-dominated Massachusetts, a race that will draw national attention. Romney said this week he is forming an exploratory committee for another possible run for presidency.

It also highlights the overlap among advisers for Brown and Romney — two candidates whose political careers and personas are very different but whose staffs have comprised many of the same people. They both will continue to consult a trio that has steered their previous campaigns — Eric Fehrnstrom, Peter Flaherty, and Beth Myers.

— Matt Viser

Santorum says Obama debt plan is tax-heavy HENNIKER, N.H. — Rick Santorum, who said he was launching a presidential exploratory committee this week, criticized President Obama’s long-term plan to reduce the growth of national debt as tax-heavy and policy-light. “The idea of taxing our way to prosperity is simply not proven at any time in our history of this country,’’ Santorum said in a speech yesterday at New England College.

The former senator from Pennsylvania spoke at the college as part of a tour through New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary, a day after he said he was setting up a fund-raising committee that allows him to take the first steps toward a 2012 presidential campaign.

Santorum, 52, has been laying the groundwork for months. While the two-term senator lacks the name recognition and fundraising organization of his better-known rivals, he is a favorite among the social conservatives.

“Now, the only test for me is whether we can raise the money that’s necessary,’’ he told Fox News Channel, where he worked as a contributor until he was put on leave while he decided whether to enter the race. “We’re going to determine over the next few weeks as to whether the resources are going to be there.’’

— Associated Press

Wis. governor defends law limiting public unions WASHINGTON — Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker yesterday told Congress he averted massive dismissals of state workers by pushing a law curbing collective bargaining by public unions.

During a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Democratic lawmakers accused Walker of using the state fiscal crisis to justify an assault on unions, their longtime supporters.

“I strongly oppose efforts to falsely blame middle-class workers,’’ said Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the panel. “This recession was not caused by them.’’

“We’ve had to make changes to make sure their jobs are protected,’’ countered Walker, a first-term Republican governor.

Walker set off nationwide protests by supporting and eventually signing a law that eliminates public-sector unions’ ability to bargain for benefits, increases contributions for health care and pensions, and prevents raises from outpacing inflation without voter approval. Ohio passed a similar law.

The hearing was the third in the Republican-led House concerning the fiscal pressure on state and local governments, which borrow in the $2.9 trillion municipal bond market.

— Bloomberg News

Obama switches on fund-raising machine WASHINGTON — President Obama switched on his formidable fund-raising machine before a hometown crowd in Chicago, starting a money chase last night that could reach astronomical sums against reinvigorated Republicans determined to deny him a second term.

Obama is scheduled to speak at three evening events that were his first fund-raisers since he formally announced his campaign for reelection last week.

The Chicago events are the first in a series of fund-raising kick-offs that will take him to San Francisco and Los Angeles next week, and New York the week after.

— Associated Press