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Ridge to campaign for Romney

| Thursday, May 17, 2012, 11:05 p.m.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the nation's first secretary of Homeland Security, said on Thursday he will campaign for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

Ridge said Romney's experience as a leader in business, running the Olympics and as governor of Massachusetts gives him a solid base for governing.

"He's had to be a decisive leader, a bold decision maker," Ridge said.

Ridge, who consults on various issues with his firm, Ridge Global, was in town last night along with Gov. Tom Corbett and former Gov. Dick Thornburgh to honor former Republican National Committeewoman Elsie Hillman.

The University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics unveiled a study of her life in politics and honored her with its inaugural lifetime achievement award at a ceremony at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.

The three governors, who hailed Hillman as an influential consensus builder, all said they will back Romney.

Corbett said he'll attempt to keep the focus in Pennsylvania on fiscal issues and hopes that will boost the GOP campaign.

Thornburgh, who practices law in Washington, agreed the party needs to focus "like a laser" on fiscal issues.

But the onetime U.S. Attorney General said he takes issue with negative campaign ads such as the proposed five-minute super PAC ad attacking President Obama's character.

"I think there's plenty of room for negative ads that focus on issues, but generally I think you should emphasize your positive message," Thornburgh said.

"Pennsylvania is going to be in play for sure, and if the party and the candidates run the kind of campaigns we were talking about tonight, I think there's a good chance we could take Pennsylvania," he said.

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