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Another Mitt Romney clunker? 'Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually....'

Mitt Romney wanted the focus to be on his plan for the economy, but mention of his wife's two Cadillacs at the speech in Detroit renewed concerns that his wealth could be a liability.

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The automotive comment also fell on a day when Romney was making what was billed as a major economic policy speech, to the Detroit Economic Club. The crowd was largely supportive, as he spelled out plans for tax cuts, reining in federal spending, and reviving a spirit of opportunity and entrepreneurialism.

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It's not that Romney always creates problems when he goes off script. During the speech itself, he departed from his prepared remarks at other times without any glitch.

But the remark about Cadillacs, luxury cars made by GM, almost immediately drew media attention away from the body of his speech.

A Romney campaign aide explained after the speech that Mrs. Romney uses two Cadillacs, one registered in Massachusetts and one in California, according to Boston Globe report. The two cars are SRX Cadillacs, one a 2007 model and one a 2010, the Globe reported.

Vehicles can emerge during political campaigns as potent personal symbols. In the run-up to Tuesday's Michigan primary, the car industry is also important as a symbol of the state's economy and of controversial economic-policy choices.

Romney isn't unusual among Republicans in voicing disapproval of the auto industry bailout that was begun under President Bush and expanded by President Obama. But opponents are using the issue against Romney.

"Who's on the side of Michigan workers? Not Romney," says an ad for rival candidate Rick Santorum. The ad says Romney rejected aid for carmakers while supporting a bailout for Wall Street firms.

The liberal group has its own new ad on the subject, which quotes a Chrysler worker as saying Romney would "let America fail."

Romney, in his speech, said "Michigan needs a strong auto industry," saying that this goal would be aided by getting "government out of General Motors."

The Michigan primary offers Romney an important opportunity to try to regain momentum in the state where he grew up, and where his father served as a popular governor.

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