News Wrap: Romney, Santorum Pitch Conservative Values at CPAC
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The battle for conservative hearts and minds brought Republican presidential hopefuls to Washington today. At an annual conference, Mitt Romney tried to allay doubts about where he stands, and defended his time as governor of Massachusetts.
MITT ROMNEY (R): I fought against long odds in a deep blue state. But I was a severely conservative Republican governor.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MITT ROMNEY: I understand that — the battles we, as conservatives, must fight because I have been on the front lines, and expect to be on those front lines again.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum never mentioned Romney directly, but he argued he is the only candidate in the field who will stay true to conservative values.
RICK SANTORUM (R): Why would an undecided voter vote for a candidate of a party who the party’s not excited about?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
RICK SANTORUM: We need conservatives now to rally for a conservative to go into November, to excite the conservative base.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Romney suffered a setback this week when Santorum won contests in three states. Tomorrow, caucus results will be announced in Maine.
In Syria, at least 28 people were killed in a pair of suicide car bombings. The attackers hit security compounds in the northern city of Aleppo, an area that had been relatively calm until now.
We have a report from Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News, reporting from neighboring Lebanon.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Who bombed Aleppo? The Syrian government says it was terrorists. The rebel Free Syrian Army told us they didn’t do it. The government, they say, planted the bombs to tarnish the opposition and distract the world from the attacks on other Syrian cities.
It didn’t stop some residents of Aleppo coming out to demonstrate. “Free Syrian Army, may God protect you,” they chanted. Security forces shot into the crowd, forcing them to scatter. In Homs to the south, there was no letup in the shelling.
Rocket and mortar fire was coming in constantly. Tanks are firing into the Baba Amr district, where thousands of civilians are trapped. Activists say several children were killed this morning in Baba Amr. Yet, in the suburb of Khalidiya, people came out to protest on the streets as they do every Friday. They set fire to the Russian flag.
The Russian veto of last Saturday’s U.N. Security Council resolution is seen as Assad’s license to kill. They have the support of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who rarely speaks out like this in public.
KING ABDULLAH BIN ABDUL-AZIZ AL SAUD, Saudi Arabia (through translator): We are in frightening days. And, regrettably, what happened at the United Nations, in my opinion, is an unfavorable move. The confidence of the whole world in the U.N. is undoubtedly shaken.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Today, there was even a small demonstration in Esali, a suburb in the center of the capital, Damascus. Hundreds have been killed in Syria this week, but it’s not quelled the uprising.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In Washington, the State Department said it has information that some in the Syrian elite are trying to get their money and families out of the country.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 89 points to close at 12,801. The Nasdaq fell 23 points to close below 2,904. For the week, the Dow and the Nasdaq lost about half a percent.
The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Spencer Bachus, confirmed today he’s being investigated by an ethics panel over alleged insider trading. The Washington Post reported today that the Office of Congressional Ethics began its investigation after a CBS “60 Minutes”‘ expose’ last fall. Bachus, an Alabama Republican, said he is cooperating and expects to be fully exonerated.
Both the House and Senate have now passed bills barring lawmakers and White House officials from insider trading.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.