Chicago Tribune 5-col. lead package, “SHOWDOWN: Santorum vows an Illinois win would assure nomination … Romney pounds Obama, claims conservative mantle ,” by Rick Pearson, John Byrne and David Heinzmann: “EFFINGHAM, Ill. – The Republican presidential front-runners wooed conservative voters Saturday as they launched an ambitious ground game across Downstate Illinois, a region that has emerged as crucial in deciding the winner of the state’s primary. Rick Santorum held rallies in southern Illinois, seeking to play up his strengths as a socially conservative former Pennsylvania senator in the stretch of coal country that also constitutes the state’s BibleBelt.
“Facing concerns about sluggish voter turnout Tuesday among his own more moderate Republican base in Chicago’s suburbs, Mitt Romney moved to tamp down Santorum’s regional push with a town hall appearance in Collinsville, an Illinois suburb of St. Louis. Almost three-quarters of the state’s Republican vote is traditionally cast in the Chicago area. Downstate Republicans are typically more conservative than their suburban counterparts, a difference Santorum sought to exploit in Effingham, a city more than 200 miles south of Chicago.”