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Presidential Race Highlights Calif. GOP Convention

Aired 2/24/12 on KPBS News.

California Republicans gather this weekend just south of San Francisco for the state party's semi-annual convention. The GOP presidential race is the headliner - even though California's primary isn't until June.

Newt Gingrich spoke in person. Mitt Romney sent former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. And supporters of Rick Santorum and Ron Paul made their presence felt too. A Field Poll out this week showed Romney with a six point lead over Santorum in California. But state party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said the race remains fluid ahead of some big contests in the next couple of weeks.

"I think Super Tuesday is gonna decide a lot," said Del Beccaro. "If it's a mixed decision or a split decision, then I think California becomes very relevant - and I think we'll be involved in the decision as to who the presidential nominee is gonna be."

That's the national backdrop. Within California, the GOP faces some challenges: dwindling party registration, no statewide office holders and the prospect of losing the votes to block tax increases in the State Senate.

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