Romney Regains Momentum with Arizona, Michigan Victories

Posted February 29th, 2012 at 7:50 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is now turning his focus on the next round of primary contests after posting crucial victories in Michigan and Arizona Tuesday.

Romney eked out a narrow three-point win over rival Rick Santorum in Michigan, the state where Romney was born and where his father was a popular governor. Romney campaigned heavily in the state to avoid an embarrassing loss to Santorum that would have imperiled his bid for the Republican nomination. He scored a far more decisive win over Santorum in Arizona.

Romney celebrated his twin victories at a rally in Michigan Tuesday night, saying to supporters he “won by enough” in his home state.

“And thank you Michigan. What a win. This is a big night. Thanks, you guys. You know, a week ago, it was just a week ago, the pundits and the pollsters, they were ready to count us out. But…I was confident that we could come together today and take a giant step toward a brighter future. So tonight, their efforts have brought our cause a great victory, and we celebrate with people across these states. Thank you.”

Romney once held a commanding lead in Michigan, but lost support after Santorum posted victories earlier this month in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.

Santorum thanked supporters Tuesday night, saying they had helped propel him to the front ranks of the nominating contest.

“A month ago, they didn't know who we are. But they do now…You know, we came into the back yard of one of my opponents in a race that everyone said, well just ignore, you have really no chance here. And the people of Michigan looked into the hearts of the candidates, and all I have to say is, 'I love you back.'”

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is having difficulty gaining support from social conservatives, who are rallying behind Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.

Texas Representative Ron Paul and former House speaker Newt Gingrich did little campaigning in Michigan. Gingrich held a campaign rally Tuesday in

Georgia, a state he represented in Congress for two decades. Paul held an evening rally in the eastern state of Virginia.

The next primary contest will take place Saturday in northwestern Washington state, two days before the much-anticipated “Super Tuesday,” when 10 states hold presidential nominating contests to pick a Republican candidate to face incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama in the November election.