Romney finds tough times in Michigan

February 16, 2012

By Andrea Billups-The Washington Times

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Michigan native sonMitt Romney is mounting a giant effort here to win back some love in the state of his birth, amid fresh signs he will have trouble winning the Feb. 28 primary or a general election matchup for the state’s 16 electoral votes this fall against President Obama.

The Detroit-born Mr. Romney, facing a strong challenge from rival Rick Santorum in what some call a must-win state, is the son of a former governor and attended high school here, but soon left his blue-collar home turf for an elite career path and undeniable corporate success elsewhere.

Although his name recognition remains high among those who remember when his father, George Romney, was Michigan’s governor, few voters younger than 50 in a state that has suffered massive economic dislocation over the past decades now connect with the Harvard-educated son who made a fortune in corporate finance and served a term as governor of Massachusetts.

Losing his home state would only reinforce GOP doubts about his candidacy and haunt him through November, political observers warn.

“Obviously, it would be a huge symbolic loss if he can’t win his home state,” said University of Michigan political scientist Michael Heaney. “IfRomney loses in Michigan, the media will say his campaign is down, he’s lost momentum and he’s washed up now.”

Four polls taken of likely Michigan voters in the past week — including two released Wednesday — show Mr. Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania who touts his appeal to blue-collar voters, leading Mr. Romney in Michigan by a margin ranging from 3 to 14 percentage points, erasing Mr. Romney’s lead.

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