Romney Trying to Avoid Home-State Primary Loss

Posted February 28th, 2012 at 4:55 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is trying to avoid a primary defeat in his native state, Michigan, where he once held a commanding lead in the polls and where his father was a popular governor.

The contest is one of two key primaries Tuesday as Republicans choose their candidate to face Democratic President Barack Obama in the November election.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is having difficulty winning the support of social conservatives. Those voters are rallying behind Rick Santorum, who was a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.

Polls show the two men in a virtual tie in Michigan, with Texas Representative Ron Paul and former House speaker Newt Gingrich far behind. The candidates could end up splitting the state's delegates because Michigan awards them based on the proportion of the vote.

In (the southwestern state of) Arizona — a winner-take-all contest — opinion surveys show Romney with a clear lead over Santorum.

The primaries come a week before the much-anticipated “Super Tuesday,” when 10 states hold presidential nominating contests.

On the campaign trail Monday, Romney criticized Santorum, saying the former senator is not spending enough time talking about the economy. Romney said Santorum has never had a job in the private sector and touted his own ability to create jobs.

“I happen to believe that if we want to have a strong economy and good private sector jobs, it helps to have a president who's had a private sector job and I have.”

Santorum told supporters in Michigan that his campaign did not expect to be doing so well in the state. He said this fact he has almost pulled into a dead-heat with Romney shows the potential his campaign has. He said his plan for improving the economy includes reducing the size of government.

“We will hit the ground running on lowering the budget. Every year we will spend less money in Washington than we did the year before. That's the budget I will propose. We will shrink the size of government.”

Paul also campaigned in Michigan Monday, while Gingrich focused on (the state of) Tennessee, before beginning a tour Tuesday of Georgia, the southeastern state he represented in Congress.