Primary results: Will Romney's Michigan, Arizona wins restore aura of inevitability?
The primary results for Michigan and Arizona are in and Mitt Romney won both on Tuesday. The Michigan primary victory, in particular, will help Romney stave off the recent charge by Rick Santorum in the polls.
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Santorum turned in a shaky debate performance last week and has made several other missteps, including using some odd and religiously toned rhetoric to describe President Obama and suggest the country is degenerating into moral ruin. He said he “almost threw up” in reaction to John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on religion, and his robocalls targeting Michigan Democrats, urging them to vote for him in the Republican primary, also sparked controversy.Skip to next paragraph
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Some GOP leaders have also questioned his decision to put so much emphasis on social issues, including contraception, which may alienate some women and more-moderate Republicans.
In a speech to supporters Tuesday night, Santorum sought to put a better spin on the evening, calling it an “absolutely great night” due to the close final vote. “A month ago they didn’t know who we are,” he told his supporters. “They do now.” He went on to launch into a long tribute to his mother and wife – emphasizing in particular their professional accomplishments, in a possible response to critics who have suggested he believes women shouldn’t hold career ambitions.
Romney, meanwhile, also faces lingering questions – including why he’s had such a hard time delivering victories in some states, despite his enormous financial and organizational advantages, and how he intends to overcome the lack of enthusiasm he is able to generate among many Republicans.
But Tuesday’s victories – particularly Michigan, which at one point seemed so elusive – will go a long way toward easing some of those doubts. Most importantly, Romney avoided what would have been an embarrassing loss in his home state, and heads into Super Tuesday in a much stronger position.
In his victory speech, Romney largely avoided mentioning Santorum at all and tried to speak as the presumptive nominee, focusing on his economic platform and his differences with Mr. Obama.
“I’m offering a real choice and a very different direction” from Obama, he said.
Despite the wins, exit polls in Michigan also showed some warning signs for Republicans, and a general dissatisfaction with the choices.
Less than half of respondents said that they strongly favor their candidate, while just over half said that they had reservations or disliked the other candidate more.
Not surprisingly, given the strong poll swings in recent weeks, about a quarter of respondents said that they made up their mind in the past few days.
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