CP Politics

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014

Romney Intensifies Frontal Assault on Santorum in Michigan

  • (Reuters/Joshua Lott)
    Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event in Mesa, Arizona February 13, 2012.
February 15, 2012|8:04 pm

Mitt Romney and his team of campaign consultants have interrupted their Super Tuesday strategy sessions and turned their attention to more pressing needs – stopping Rick Santorum in Michigan.

Santorum, once thought to have drifted into the campaign netherlands after the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary, came back with a vengeance last week by sweeping Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota, all in a single day. The defeat, especially Colorado's, sent the Romney campaign in a tailspin.

"It's going to be a slugfest here," James Muffet, president of Citizens for Traditional Values, told The Washington Post. "We (Michigan) didn't think we'd matter, and now we're at the eye of the storm."

For Romney, winning Michigan isn't an option; it's now a necessity.

Not only did Romney win Michigan by nine percentage points in 2008, it's also his former backyard. Romney's father, a former Michigan governor and also one-time presidential contender, led the state known for its automotive industry in the 1960s so losing, especially to Santorum, doesn't seem to be an option.

In an effort to make certain that doesn't happen, the team Romney began running a series of ads touting his Michigan roots and leadership qualities. Romney also penned an op-ed in Tuesday's Detroit News in an effort to explain away his opposition to the 2009 bailout of the automotive industry. He also said Obama gave unions far too much power and mismanaged the bailout.

Not to be outdone, team Santorum has created an ad titled "Rombo," a spinoff of Sylvester Stallone's "Rambo" character.

In the ad, a Romney lookalike carrying an assault rifle enters a warehouse and spots a cutout of a figure representing Santorum. The Romney character opens fire, seemingly missing Santorum. A voice-over says Mitt Romney's "negative attack machine is back in full throttle." The ad continues, saying Romney and his super PAC have spent over $20 million attacking Santorum and other GOP candidates.

The choice between Romney and Santorum in Michigan is one not only of style, but also of where they line up on the political spectrum.

Romney is from a well-to-do Mormon family who went on to parlay a successful career with a venture capital firm into hundreds of millions of dollars of personal wealth.

A former governor of Massachusetts who oversaw the winter Olympics when they were held in Utah, Romney is considered by most a moderate Republican who has all but locked up the Republican establishment in Washington in most states. He has also raised hundreds of millions of dollars and by far has the largest campaign war chest of any GOP candidate.

By contrast, Santorum was raised in a blue-collar family in Pennsylvania. He attended law school and then served 16 years in both the U.S. House and Senate before having his career cut short in 2006 after losing by a wide margin to his Democrat challenger.

While serving in Congress, Santorum gained a reputation as a staunch fiscal and social conservative, although Romney has since attacked him on his support of "earmarks," also known as line-item budget items brought back to a legislator's home state or district. But it is Santorum's stances on social issues that have earned him both respect and disdain in political circles.

Romney's hope is that he can connect with the working class Republican voters of Michigan. If he loses to Santorum, it would be further evidence that he has trouble connecting with blue-collar voters who make up a substantial block of Independents.

"If Romney loses Michigan, the perception is that it's just a huge loss for him, one that could really cost him the nomination," noted GOP pollster Steve Mitchell to The Washington Post.

A Santorum victory will demonstrate he can appeal to voters on economic, as well as social issues.

The Real Clear Politics average of Michigan polls has Santorum holding a nine-point margin over Romney, 37 to 28 percent. Texas Congressman Ron Paul is third with 11 percent and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich trails with 9 percent.

Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/romney-intensifies-frontal-assault-on-santorum-in-michigan-69609/