Romney, Santorum Coming to Lancaster

The Lancaster County GOP will be at the epicenter of the presidential contest in April. Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum will each speak at the party’s annual spring banquet on April 17.

That’s just one week before Pennsylvania Republicans go to the polls to vote.

Lancaster GOP Chairman Ethan Demme says the event came together very recently. The group had looked at inviting Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), John Runyan (R-NJ) and Allen West (R-FL) among others.

Instead, they have two speakers with much higher billing.

“We weren’t planning on this being a huge event,” he told PoliticsPA. “We had been pursuing a congressman or woman to come speak to us, but that didn’t work out. Then, all of a sudden, everything came together.”

Demme said neither he nor the committee had made an endorsement in the presidential contest.

“I think we’ve got three great candidates, and right now I’m backing anyone but Obama.”

The venue is not yet set, but the Lancaster Convention Center is likely.

The news was first reported by Tom Murse of the Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era.

Lancaster County is in the top five Pa. counties in GOP voter registration. It could be a swing area in the statewide primary vote; it’s just outside Romney’s natural base in southeast Pa., but far from Santorum’s home turf in western Pa.

Santorum is coming to the Harrisburg area on Saturday, where he will address the annual gathering of conservative activists at the Pa. Leadership Conference. Newt Ginrich will also speak; South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is speaking on Romney’s behalf.

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