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Triumphant Santorum takes fight into Romney’s backyard: Michigan
thehill.com ^ | 02/08/12 | Cameron Joseph

Posted on 02/08/2012 7:43:46 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe

Rick Santorum will take the fight for the Republican presidential nomination to Mitt Romney in Michigan, the state where Romney grew up and where his father served as governor.

“We’re heading to Michigan,” Santorum said on MSNBC Wednesday morning, the day after he swept caucuses in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. “We think Michigan is a great place for us to plant our flag and talk about jobs and opportunities for everybody in America to rise.”

The state, which votes on Feb. 28, is a must-win for Romney to remain the front-runner. If he loses on his home turf one week before Super Tuesday, on March 6, it will reinforce the idea that he is beatable and at odds with his party’s conservative base, and it will give whoever wins in Michigan massive momentum.

“Romney damn well has to win this state. He has to,” said Bill Ballenger, the editor of Inside Michigan Politics and a former Republican state lawmaker. “If he loses Michigan, the wheels could really start coming off the buggy.”

While Romney will have the big edge in money and organization, and still has family active in the state GOP, he could have some weaknesses there, too. He won Michigan by nine points in 2008, a much narrower victory than he had in Minnesota and Colorado that same year. The state’s demographics also pose some problems for him.

Santorum has shown considerable strength with social conservatives, blue-collar voters and Tea Party supporters, all of whom are a major presence in Michigan — and are groups that have resisted Romney from the start. But Romney is counting on his family connections, deep pockets and strong infrastructure in the state to carry him through.

Alex Castellanos, a 2008 Romney strategist who is neutral in this year’s primary, said that Romney needs to worry about Michigan.

“It was a long time ago that his dad was governor, and that is a very conservative primary,” he said.

Romney’s campaign was bowled over by Santorum in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri after spending little time and money in the states, and is unlikely to make the same mistake in Michigan and Arizona, which votes on the same day. A super-PAC supporting Romney has already been on the air for days in the state, and both the super-PAC and Romney’s campaign are likely to spend heavily on ads.

But that super-PAC might have inadvertently helped Santorum by targeting Gingrich for days with negative ads. Santorum stands poised to pick up conservatives who are turned off by Gingrich’s issues.

Romney’s campaign has pivoted to attack Santorum in recent days, hitting out at his past support of earmarks and criticizing him as a Washington insider. After Santorum said Wednesday that the problem with Washington was its culture more than its leaders, Romney’s campaign took the quotation out of context to slam him as a Washington insider.

“Rick Santorum says that there is not a problem with the way the federal government is being led,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul in a statement. “That is ridiculous and again proves why conservatives can’t trust a Washington insider to fix the problems that Washington insiders created.”

But many GOP strategists say Santorum’s record gives Romney much less to work with than Gingrich.

“Romney will have to come up with a positive reason to vote for him between now and Michigan,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell, who is unaffiliated in the race. “He can’t just go negative against Santorum, because there’s not as much to go after as there was with Gingrich.”

Castellanos agreed.

“Rick Santorum has waged a populist war against the Washington establishment for a long time. It’s going to be hard to paint him as a member of the Washington elite and status quo and get this earmark thing to stick,” he said.

“With Gingrich, he just had to reopen old wounds, and there were plenty. With Rick Santorum, he’s got to tell you that this new ruby-red Michigan apple, this new, bright candidate who has captured the conservative imagination, is not what he appears, and that’s a much tougher job,” Castellanos said.

Romney has consistently led in polls in the state, but a survey conducted by the nonpartisan pollster EPIC-MRA after Gingrich’s big win in South Carolina had Gingrich only five points behind Romney. Gingrich has indicated he will focus more on Arizona, which also votes on Feb. 28, and on states that vote a week later, on Super Tuesday, giving Santorum a cleaner shot at Romney in the state.

EPIC-MRA’s pollster, Bernie Porn, said Gingrich came that close in the poll despite high unfavorable numbers and that Michigan was no sure thing for Romney. “I think Romney has the potential to struggle,” he said. “If Santorum can get up with enough of a TV buy … he could make a run here.”

Santorum’s campaign has long struggled with fundraising, but he announced that he had raised $400,000 from the day of the vote through midday on Wednesday. He spent Wednesday in Texas, meeting with prominent conservative donors.

Another complicating issue in the state is the auto bailout, which many in Michigan view as having saved the industry and the state’s economy but many conservatives abhor as government intrusion.

Romney came out strongly against the bailout, penning an op-ed in 2008 titled “Let Detroit go bankrupt.”

Santorum also opposed the bailout, but not in as strident tones, and Michigan conservatives are split on the issue.

“Conservatives hate the auto bailout, but it’s a double-edged sword in the state of Michigan,” said Michigan GOP strategist Denise DeCook. “As [Michigan conservatives] go and cash their paychecks, they’re saying, ‘Hallelujah, I’m glad it was there, without that bailout there wouldn’t be a state of Michigan anymore.’ There’s the ideological voter, but then there’s an ideological and realistic voter.”

DeCook said Romney still had the edge but couldn’t take the state for granted. “It’d be a mistake for the Romney folks to think this is a slam-dunk, but if they do what they need to do, they’re going to win,” she said.

She pointed out that Santorum had spent almost no time in the state, while both Romney and Gingrich were well-known there. But she said if Santorum focused on the state he could have a good chance there.

“Santorum is a very personable individual,” she said. “Where he spends time and touches flesh, he has been able to turn that into wins.”


TOPICS: Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: santorum

1 posted on 02/08/2012 7:43:48 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

I think Santorum has a fair chance in Michigan. Romney’s base of support is slowly going the way of the dinosaur. If nothing else, Santorum will snatch some much needed delegates away from Romney.


2 posted on 02/08/2012 7:52:24 PM PST by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Rick: as genuine a person as Mitt is a slick phony . People can pick it up.


3 posted on 02/08/2012 7:53:29 PM PST by AmericanInTokyo (Santorum is worth a good second look, my friends. Why is it the media and White House hate him so?)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
So what's this goofy primary delegate count look like now? Any new primary-by-primary projections?

Who wins a brokered convention? (Palin I hope.)

4 posted on 02/08/2012 7:54:43 PM PST by PapaNew
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Gawd, Romney is a slimy loogie...


5 posted on 02/08/2012 7:55:29 PM PST by dps.inspect (the system is rigged...)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

I would relish the sight of the wheels falling off Romney’s buggy.


6 posted on 02/08/2012 7:58:42 PM PST by ReneeLynn (Socialism is SO yesterday. Fascism, it's the new black. Mmm mmm mmm...)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Santorum or Gingrich, one and two would be perfect. I want Romney bitched slapped.


7 posted on 02/08/2012 7:59:39 PM PST by svcw (Only difference between Romney & BH is one thinks he will be god & other one thinks he already is.)
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To: AmericanInTokyo

Agree.

See what Larry Sabato says: From the Guardian (UK)

“Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia, said Santorum’s victories leave the Republican party in “a mess”. Sabato said he did not anticipate Santorum becoming the nominee and if it were to happen, Santorum would lose.”


8 posted on 02/08/2012 8:06:55 PM PST by Steelfish (ui)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

This primary is going even better than I had hoped. My gosh and some folks were balking at me saying, “President Santorum”. Boy are they eating crow.


9 posted on 02/08/2012 8:07:13 PM PST by napscoordinator (A moral principled Christian with character is the frontrunner! Congrats Santorum!)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
In Michigan you get delegates per congressional district, as well as at large. I don't know if it is by old or new districts.

If I'm him, I'd be setting up shop along my fellow Italians in populist Northern Macomb County.

10 posted on 02/08/2012 8:08:52 PM PST by Darren McCarty (Rick Santorum in the primary)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

"Romney will have to come up with a positive reason to vote for him between now and Michigan,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell, who is unaffiliated in the race"

If he had one, we would've heard it by now. He doesn't- and that's why he has to rely on his crutch of trashing his opponents.

11 posted on 02/08/2012 8:12:21 PM PST by Qbert ("The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry" - William F. Buckley, Jr.)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
I was born and raised in Michigan.
I moved out of there as soon as I could, and never went back.

The Romney name in Michigan is not one that should sell well nowadays, outside of Detroit, and the various unindicted criminal union organizations.
Even with a false “R” designation.

I stopped caring long ago.
The citizens of Michigan made their bed, and they can either lie in it, or attempt to wash their corrupt sheets clean and try again.

It will be vaguely interesting to see what they do.

12 posted on 02/08/2012 8:20:43 PM PST by sarasmom
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To: Tailgunner Joe
How cute.

Ricky is pretending to be a winner.

However, it'll break the hearts of his supporters when they see the torrent of smears, some true and some false. All mis-characterized.

He's about the learn about the POTUS vetting process. If you don't have $100mil in the bank and promises for another $500mil to $1bil, you are roadkill.

I don't think he can pull 1/2 of potential GOP voters in the general and I don't think he'll pull 1/2 of GOP voters in the primaries.

JMHO.

13 posted on 02/08/2012 8:39:05 PM PST by Mariner (War Criminal #18)
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To: AmericanInTokyo

“Rick: as genuine a person as Mitt is a slick phony . People can pick it up.”

There is no one who entered the race who I admired more than Governor Rick Perry. When “there was no path forward” and he made the painful decision to leave the campaign , I listened to every word of his goodbye. He was gracious. He was good-humored. He was respectful and encouraging. He endorsed Newt....and then he warned that Rick Santorum was not a conservative.


14 posted on 02/08/2012 8:51:35 PM PST by FryingPan101 (My taglines always lose.)
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To: cripplecreek

If nothing else, Santorum will snatch some much needed delegates away from Romney.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
By that, I assume that MI is not a “Winner-take-all” State. Am I right in my assumption?


15 posted on 02/08/2012 8:53:32 PM PST by no dems (I'm more concerned with America's future than I am Newt's past.)
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To: Mariner
I don't think he can pull 1/2 of potential GOP voters in the general and I don't think he'll pull 1/2 of GOP voters in the primaries.

Romney and Gingrich are both "hold your nose" candidates. Many conservatives will be proud to vote for a consistent conservative who is also a decent person.

16 posted on 02/08/2012 8:55:23 PM PST by Prokopton
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Based on the article, I would like to believe that this decision for Rick in Mich and Newt in Ariz was a plan on their part. Romney had a good chance of taking both, but his task becomes that much harder if he’s fighting only one conservative on both fronts.


17 posted on 02/08/2012 9:00:18 PM PST by VinL (It is better to suffer every wrong, than to consent to wrong.)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Lots of Catholics in Michigan - strong for Rick. there are also a bunch of Mormons - descendants of former polygamists jailed by the Feds’ Edmunds Act in the 1880s. I like Santorum’s chances.


18 posted on 02/08/2012 9:34:20 PM PST by montag813
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To: FryingPan101

He endorsed Newt and thought Rick wasn’t a conservative?? Excuuuuse me?? Rick doesn’t support amnesty or believe in man made global warming!


19 posted on 02/08/2012 11:02:04 PM PST by Yaelle (Go Santorum! (He takes Paypal now for quick donations!))
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To: Mariner

Ricky ‘won’ he got over half the votes of the less than 9% that bothered to show and ‘vote.

No delegates.

Ya, big victory.

Is none of the above still available?


20 posted on 02/08/2012 11:05:55 PM PST by ASOC (What are you doing now that Mexico has become OUR Chechnya?)
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To: ASOC

Yes, “None of the Above”’s alias is “Barack Hussein Obama” this year.


21 posted on 02/08/2012 11:27:32 PM PST by alstewartfan (27 of 36 of Romney's judicial appointments were DEMOCRATS!!!!!)
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To: Mariner

Sen. Santorum is not “pretending” to be a winner. He IS the winner of four states now, I believe. He doesn’t have to fake anything.


22 posted on 02/08/2012 11:30:30 PM PST by alstewartfan (27 of 36 of Romney's judicial appointments were DEMOCRATS!!!!!)
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To: Darren McCarty

I should add that apparently, Newt’s not going to campaign in Michigan at least according to what I’ve read on the Right Michigan blog, which is pretty good.


23 posted on 02/08/2012 11:38:30 PM PST by Darren McCarty (Rick Santorum in the primary)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
With Rick Santorum, [Romney's] got to tell you that this new ruby-red Michigan apple, this new, bright candidate who has captured the conservative imagination, is not what he appears, and that’s a much tougher job,” Castellanos said.

Romney's got a few unwitting helpers here though.

24 posted on 02/09/2012 12:18:48 AM PST by CharlesWayneCT
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To: Mariner

They don’t have to go far, they can see it right here now. So I think they are prepared, they’ve been in the pro-Santorum threads for more than a week now. Any smear you can think of, we get innoculated here.

I hope you don’t need $100 million in the bank to survive, because Gingrich never will come close to that, and if it isn’t Santorum, it better be Gingrich.


25 posted on 02/09/2012 12:22:48 AM PST by CharlesWayneCT
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Have either of these two won a republican state?


26 posted on 02/09/2012 12:46:55 AM PST by douginthearmy (Obamagebra: 1 job + 1 hope + 1 change = 0 jobs + 0 hope)
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