Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Mitt Romney at Surburban Collection Showcase after winning both the Michigan and Arizona primaries on Feb. 28, 2012 in Novi, Michigan.
Mitt Romney at Surburban Collection Showcase after winning both the Michigan and Arizona primaries on Feb. 28, 2012 in Novi, Michigan. Photographer: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Feb. 29 (Bloomberg) — Matthew Dowd, Bloomberg political analyst and former chief campaign strategist for George W. Bush, talks about the results of the Michigan and Arizona primaries and the outlook for the Republican presidential nomination.
Dowd speaks with Erik Schatzker, Stephanie Ruhle and Peter Cook on Bloomberg Television’s “InsideTrack.” (Source: Bloomberg)
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Mitt Romney, his wife Ann and son Tagg at a primary night gathering at the Suburban Collections Showplace, on Feb. 28, 2012 in Novi, Michigan.
Mitt Romney, his wife Ann and son Tagg at a primary night gathering at the Suburban Collections Showplace, on Feb. 28, 2012 in Novi, Michigan. Photographer: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Mitt Romney at a campaign rally at the Royal Oak Theater in on Feb. 27, 2012 in Michigan.
Mitt Romney at a campaign rally at the Royal Oak Theater in on Feb. 27, 2012 in Michigan. Photographer: Gerald Herbert/AP
Mitt Romney’s double-barreled
victory in the Arizona and Michigan primaries yesterday gave him
a burst of momentum in the Republican presidential race as the
contest shifts to Southern states and Ohio (STOOH1), where his appeal
among evangelical and working class voters will be tested anew.
Two months into the voting and nine months into Romney’s
second presidential run, the results confirmed his status as
fragile front-runner, toiling to win over Republican voters as
he heads into potentially pivotal Super Tuesday races March 6.
Those 11 races — which yield a total haul of more than 400
delegates — are shaping up as a last stand for Rick Santorum,
the latest Romney rival to threaten the Massachusetts ex-
governor — as well as a chance for Romney to either solidify,
or continue to grasp for, a hold on the nomination.
Either way, even Romney allies say there are no guarantees
and the process will probably drag on for several weeks.
Super Tuesday “will probably be definitive to establish
that Romney’s in a commanding position, but it won’t be over for
a while,” said Charlie Black, who is advising the Romney
campaign. “They’re prepared to go state to state in all the
Super Tuesday states and beyond, and just grind it out.”
Romney, 64, has had to do more grinding than his campaign
anticipated, most recently in his native Michigan (USUSMICH), where a late
surge by Santorum, 53, a former Pennsylvania senator, threatened
to yield an embarrassing Romney defeat. Instead, he won by 3
points — a slim margin for the son of a former governor and
Detroit automobile executive — with most precincts reporting.
His task was easier in Arizona, where he won by 20 points.
Campaigning today in Ohio, Romney credited those victories
to his business background and focus on the economy, and called
Santorum “an economic lightweight.”
During a town-hall meeting in suburban Columbus, Romney
took questions from the audience, including from a woman who
said she was a law student worried about her financial future
because she doesn’t have access to subsidized student loans.
“I wish I could tell you that there’s a place to find
really cheap money or free money that we can pay for everyone’s
education,” Romney told her. “That’s just not going to
Call for Sacrifice
Romney made it clear at the end of his remarks that he would
ask Americans to give up programs the nation can’t afford.
“A leader is someone who’s able to turn to the American
people and ask them to sacrifice,” he said.
Earlier in the day, he focused on manufacturing jobs and
“I want to bring jobs back here,” he said at a steel
fence post warehouse in Toledo. “I’m going to insist that China
plays by the same rules everybody else in the world plays by,
and if they do we’ll win jobs back.”
Romney, a former chief executive officer and co-founder of
the private equity firm Bain Capital LLC, has said he would
label China a currency manipulator, arguing that the country
keeps the value of the yuan artificially low to encourage
Joking with workers as he toured the American Posts LLC
plant, Romney said, “I got to press the button. That will be my
heavy lift in terms of manufacturing today.”
Joe the Plumber
Watching Romney speak was Samuel Wurzelbacher, who gained
fame during the 2008 presidential election as “Joe the
Plumber” and is running for Congress in Ohio this year.
“They like to pretend they’re blue-collar when they up
there,” he told reporters, pointing to the stage where Romney
“I go hunting and fishing and like outdoorsmen, so that’s
the kind of people I know and can connect with,” said
Wurzelbacher, a Republican who hasn’t endorsed anyone. “To me,
hanging out in a roomful of bankers wouldn’t work for me.”
The latest polls show Romney trailing his rivals in states
that award the most delegates next week, including Ohio, where
he’s running behind Santorum, and Georgia, where former U.S.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich leads, followed by Santorum. Among
the group Santorum has targeted are working class voters,
defined by pollsters as those without college degrees.
Santorum at Pulpit
Santorum is also focusing his strategy on the large
populations of socially conservative voters in Ohio, Oklahoma
Campaigning today in Powell, Tennessee, he appeared at the
pulpit of Temple Baptist Church, flanked by gilded lettering on
both sides, a Bible verse and the phrase, “A vision for the
world, a home for your family.”
“We had a much better night in Michigan than maybe was
first reported,” he told the gathering of a few hundred people
after the choir sang. “This was really a great race to go into,
innocent, belly of the beast: the home town of my chief rival in
the Republican primary.”
Months into a contest that has seen Romney challenged by a
rotating cast of candidates who have risen and fallen, he still
needs to persuade Republican voters that he’s striving for their
support, said pollster Ed Goeas.
“The test for Romney has always been not to convince them
that he is the most conservative, the test has always been to
convince them that he’s not just taking them for granted, and
he’s fighting for it,” said Goeas, of the Alexandria-based
Tarrance Group who conducts the bipartisan Battleground Poll.
“They haven’t been sending the message that he’s fighting for
Through all the ups and downs, Goeas said, voters have
maintained a view that Romney is the most electable candidate,
with more than half saying they see him as the likely nominee.
Still, the prospect of a prolonged primary concerns many
strategists, who argue that the tone of the race is damaging the
party’s candidates, alienating independent voters and
undercutting Republican hopes of defeating President Barack Obama.
Obama’s prospects have brightened since November, according
to the Politico/George Washington University Battleground Poll
released Feb. 27. He was ahead of both of the leading
Republicans, winning support from 53 percent in a hypothetical
matchup with Romney, who drew 43 percent, and 53 percent in a
head-to-head contest with Santorum, who got 42 percent.
“We need to look at this as a warning sign that we need to
get this over with, and get back to focusing on us versus
Obama,” Goeas said.
Before that can happen, Santorum is angling for a chance to
compete directly against Romney in March, pushing to consolidate
the support of anti-abortion activists and other Romney-
resistant Republican voters and pull off upset victories that
could frustrate the front-runner yet again.
“What March needs to be is where we get a one-on-one shot
with Mitt Romney,” said John Brabender, Santorum’s chief
strategist. To accomplish that the campaign must “have
conservatives and Tea Party supporters who don’t want to vote
for Romney say, ‘Look, we’ve got to pick somebody. Rick
Santorum’s the one emerging. We’ve got to get behind him.’ ”
While Super Tuesday successes may not allow Romney to
clinch the nomination, they could reveal his competitors’
weaknesses, thus building his momentum, said Steve Duprey, who
advised Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee, during
his presidential bid and now serves as a Republican National
Committeeman from New Hampshire.
“Senator Santorum has somewhat solidified the non-Romney
constituency, and these contests are going to test that,”
Duprey said. “We’re going to see a trend — either Romney will
have to slog through ‘til May but he’ll be the nominee, or if
Santorum wins some important states, this could be a wide-open
The Republican Party’s decision to rewrite its rules to
allow for more gradual awarding of delegates, drawing out the
nominating process, “in hindsight may not have been a great
idea,” putting the eventual nominee at a fundraising and image
disadvantage relative to Obama, Duprey added.
“Romney’s had a tougher go, and I think that also reflects
the reality that we have a Republican base that is of many
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Article source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-29/romney-defeats-santorum-in-michigan-republican-primary-race-ap-projects.html