Romney’s Michigan, Arizona Wins Won’t Stop Santorum Campaign

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Mitt Romney with his son Tagg at Surburban Collection Showcase after winning both the Michigan and Arizona primaries on Feb. 28, 2012 in Novi, Michigan. Close

Mitt Romney with his son Tagg at Surburban Collection Showcase after winning both the... Read More

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Photographer: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Mitt Romney with his son Tagg at Surburban Collection Showcase after winning both the Michigan and Arizona primaries on Feb. 28, 2012 in Novi, Michigan.

Mitt Romney won the Republican presidential primary in his native Michigan yesterday, propelled by the oldest and wealthiest voters even as those who form the party’s core eluded him.

Romney easily triumphed in Arizona’s primary, and his dual victories blunted Rick Santorum’s rise as the nomination race expands to a broader field of states over the next week. Still, his 3 percentage point margin in Michigan won’t deter Santorum as they continue a battle that some Republican leaders have said may tarnish the party’s brand in November’s general election against President Barack Obama.

“We didn’t win by a lot, but we won by enough and that’s all that matters,” Romney told cheering supporters last night in Novi, Michigan.

Santorum depicted his Michigan loss as a win as he spoke to his backers in Grand Rapids.

“We came into the backyard of one of my opponents, in a race that everyone said, ‘Well, just ignore, you have really no chance here,’” he said. “And the people of Michigan looked into the hearts of the candidates and all I have to say is that I love them back.”

Romney had 41.1 percent of the vote in Michigan and Santorum 37.9 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press tally. Running third was U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas with 11.6 percent, followed by former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 6.5 percent.

Photographer: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Mitt Romney at a primary night gathering at the Suburban Collections Showplace on Feb. 28, 2012 in Novi, Michigan. Close

Mitt Romney at a primary night gathering at the Suburban Collections Showplace on Feb.... Read More

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Photographer: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Mitt Romney at a primary night gathering at the Suburban Collections Showplace on Feb. 28, 2012 in Novi, Michigan.

In Arizona, Romney had 47.3 percent of the vote, with 100 percent of precincts reporting in the AP tally. Santorum had 26.6 percent, followed by Gingrich with 16.2 percent and Paul with 8.4 percent.

Michigan Focus

Santorum campaigned on his second-place finish in Michigan today as he carried his bid for the Rebublican nomination to Tennessee, among the states voting in the “Super Tuesday” contests March 6.

‘This was really a great race, to go into,’’ Santorum said of the Michigan contest as he campaigned from the pulpit of a Baptist church in Powell, Tennessee. “Belly of the beast: The home town of my chief rival in the Republican primary.”

While Romney and Santorum focused on Michigan over the last three weeks, neither Paul nor Gingrich competed aggressively in the state, instead concentrating on states voting in March.

Super Tuesday Stakes

The race now moves to a dozen states: Washington, which conducts caucuses on March 3, and 11 contests on March 6, or Super Tuesday. That day’s major contests include primaries in Ohio, Georgia, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

More than 400 of the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination will be at stake on Super Tuesday.

Michigan will award its 30 delegates based on results in each of the state’s congressional districts, meaning Romney will split the total with Santorum. Arizona’s primary is winner-take- all, so Romney gets all of the state’s 29 delegates.

The threat Santorum’s candidacy poses for Romney is underscored by signs that the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania has begun to consolidate the support of those Republicans who have been searching for a Romney alternative.

“People are not ready to fall in line behind Mitt Romney,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, an advocacy group for social conservatives who oppose abortion rights that hasn’t endorsed a candidate. “This thing could go on up to August.”

Republican Fight

Republican leaders concerned about the potential fallout of a prolonged Romney-Santorum fight include Governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi. In comments to reporters in Washington on Feb. 27, he said he worried “about our candidates having a negative campaign toward each other. I like the Ronald Reagan 11th Commandment -- thou shall not speak ill against another Republican -- and I think we need to remember some of that.”

According to exit polling in Michigan, Romney won almost half of the vote of those 65 years of age and older, a group that represented about a quarter of the turnout. Santorum outperformed Romney among those under 45.

Romney won almost half of the vote of those making more than $100,000 a year, while Santorum had the stronger showing among those with lower incomes -- he carried about 40 percent of those earning less than $50,000. Santorum also won a plurality of those who haven’t attended college.

Voter Profile

About 60 percent of the voters described themselves as either “very” or “somewhat” conservative. Santorum won roughly half of the “very” conservative contingent, while Romney carried about the same percentage of the “somewhat” conservative bloc.

Romney won Oakland County, where he spent the bulk of his childhood in the affluent suburb of Bloomfield Hills.

Santorum carried western Michigan, which Romney won four years earlier when he presented himself as a conservative alternative to Senator John McCain, 2008’s eventual Republican presidential nominee.

Among this year’s primary voters, 50 percent said they disapproved of the federal government’s $82 billion bailout of the automotive industry, a central part of Michigan’s economy. That group was evenly divided between Romney and Santorum.

In the Feb. 14 edition of the Detroit News, Romney wrote an opinion piece about his opposition to the bailout. In part because Santorum also opposed it, political strategists in the state said the issue didn’t play a significant role in the primary. Democrats, though, plan to take full advantage of the issue in November.

Obama Campaigns

Obama previewed that line of attack yesterday in a speech to a gathering of the United Auto Workers in Washington, saying the Republican candidates would have left the industry, including General Motors Co. (GM) and Chrysler Group LLC, and its workers “hung out to dry.”

Earlier this month, GM said it earned $9.19 billion last year, the largest profit in its 103-year history, and regained its position as the world’s top-selling automaker.

Santorum, 53, was leading in Michigan polls just a week ago, and his loss probably will fuel questions about his tendency to veer from a focus on improving the economy to offer defenses of the role of religion in public life. He faced questions before yesterday’s votes over his Feb. 26 remarks that John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on the separation of church and state made him want to “throw up.”

Romney’s Defensive

Romney, 64, was forced to campaign aggressively in Michigan to avoid the political embarrassment of losing in a state where he was born and raised and where his father served three terms as governor. He had been the strong favorite in Michigan until support for Santorum surged following his wins in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri on Feb. 7.

Santorum was dealt a setback in a Feb. 22 nationally televised debate when Romney and Paul questioned his congressional record as a fiscal conservative. Romney, though, was forced on the defensive by recent comments that drew unwanted attention to his wealth, including a remark that his wife owned two Cadillacs.

Hours before voting ended yesterday, Romney said he had made some “mistakes” in Michigan and pledged “to do better and work harder and make sure that we get our message across.”

Michigan’s Republican primary drew 998,842 voters, according to a count by the Associated Press early today. That’s more than the 869,169 who turned out four years ago. In 2000 when there was no competitive Democratic contest, more than 1.2 million voted in the Republican primary that McCain won over George W. Bush, who went on to the White House.

Next Contests

Romney campaigned today in Ohio; Santorum appeared in the state briefly yesterday and plans to return March 2.

As of Feb. 27, Romney’s campaign and its allies were already running television ads in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

The financial advantage Romney has had throughout the Republican race helped him overshadow Santorum on Michigan television screens on the days leading up to the primary.

Spending by his campaign and a political action committee backing him outpaced expenditures on behalf of Santorum by about 3-2, according to data from New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, a company that tracks advertising.

The Romney campaign and Restore Our Future spent $3.12 million to air ads 6,229 times on Michigan broadcast television through yesterday, CMAG reported. Santorum and the Red White and Blue Fund, a PAC supporting him, spent $2.15 million to air ads 5,337 times.

To contact the reporters on this story: John McCormick in Southfield, Michigan at jmccormick16@bloomberg.net; Lisa Lerer in Novi, Michigan at llerer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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