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Political Notebook

Newt Gingrich expects Mitt Romney to win

“I do think there’s a desire for a more idea-oriented Republican Party, but that doesn’t translate necessarily to being able to take on the Romney machine,’’ Newt Gingrich said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.’’

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“I do think there’s a desire for a more idea-oriented Republican Party, but that doesn’t translate necessarily to being able to take on the Romney machine,’’ Newt Gingrich said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.’’

Newt Gingrich once led his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination in the polls. Now, he is millions in debt and describing Mitt Romney as “far and away the most likely’’ GOP nominee.

Running for president “turned out to be much harder than I thought it would be,’’ he said Sunday.

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“I do think there’s a desire for a more idea-oriented Republican Party, but that doesn’t translate necessarily to being able to take on the Romney machine,’’ Gingrich said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.’’

Gingrich said he has a little less than $4.5 million in campaign debt, and he is operating on a shoestring budget.

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Despite Gingrich’s acknowledgment of what appears to be his inevitable defeat, the former House speaker is not ready to drop out. Gingrich wants to influence the party’s platform, which is a statement of principles on the issues. He is interested in promoting increased domestic oil production and personal Social Security savings accounts.

But if Romney secures the nomination, Gingrich said he will campaign for him. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Congressman sees media attack on Romney’s faith

Associated Press US Representative Raul Labrador of Idaho predicted Sunday that the media would make Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith a major issue in the Republican front-runner’s expected general election contest with President Obama.

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Romney’s religion was a topic during religion-themed political talk shows, including NBC’s “Meet the Press,’’ where Labrador was a guest. Labrador, also a Mormon, was responding to Utah Senator Orrin Hatch’s statement Tuesday that the Obama campaign is “going to throw the Mormon Church at him like you can’t believe.’’

“I think the media is going to do that for the Obama campaign,’’ Labrador said, citing as evidence “nasty things’’ said Tuesday by MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell: “Mormonism was created by a guy in upstate New York in 1830 when he got caught having sex with the maid and explained to his wife that God told him to do it,’’ O’Donnell said on his show. “Forty-eight wives later, Joseph Smith’s lifestyle was completely sanctified in the religion he invented to go with it. Which Mitt Romney says he believes.’’

The official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints states that “at certain times and for His specific purposes, God, through His prophets, has directed the practice of plural marriage,’’ but notes that the church officially ended its endorsement of polygamy in 1890.

A Quinnipiac poll last year showed 29 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of Democrats are uncomfortable with the prospect of a Mormon president.

In an Easter interview on ABC’s “This Week,’’ influential Christian pastor Rick Warren refused to place Mormonism under the umbrella of Christianity because it denies the doctrine of the Trinity.

And in October, Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress called Mormonism a cult at the Values Voter Summit in Washington. Romney shrugged off the comment, saying he had “heard worse.’’

Romney has not tried to hide his faith but has suggested voters should ignore religious labels. — CALLUM BORCHERS

With daughter ill, Santorum to skip day’s campaigning

Rick Santorum said he will not campaign on Monday so he and his wife, Karen, can stay with their daughter Bella, who was hospitalized Friday.

Bella, 3, was born with a chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 18, which is often fatal after birth. She was also hospitalized in January with pneumonia, and Santorum pronounced her recovery a miracle. The family has not made public the reason for the current hospitalization. — NEW YORK TIMES

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