Romney, hoping to stem the Santorum surge, pretends to drive a car through Detroit in a desperate attempt to connect with Michiganders

    Given Rick Santorum’s recent, come-from-behind primary wins, and the fact that Super Tuesday is just a few short weeks away, the February 28 primary in Michigan is shaping up to be more important than anyone could have predicted. According to the most optimistic polling that I’ve seen, Romney, the son of former Michigan Governor George Romney, is expected to finish 6-points behind Santorum. (Other polls have him lagging by more than 10%.) FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, who appeared on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown last night, believes, for a number of reasons, that Michigan could be Romney’s, “last chance to win the race cleanly.” And, as a result, advertising dollars are being pumped into the mitten state by both campaigns. The question is… How dirty will things get, if Santorum doesn’t implode, like all of those that have come before him, and Romney can’t find a way to chip away at his lead?

    [There are only three primaries left between now and Super Tuesday (March 6). They are to take place in Arizona (February 28), Michigan (February 28), and Washington (March 3).]

    Nate Silver, in his New York Times column today, elaborated on the advertising war shaping up in Michigan. Here’s a clip:

    …Mr. Santorum has a larger lead, 15 points, in another poll of Michigan from Public Policy Polling. That firm projects Michigan’s electorate to be decidedly more conservative than it was in 2008. For instance, it projects 48 percent of the voters to be evangelical Christians, up from 39 percent in 2008, and 38 percent of voters to be “very conservative,” up from 24 percent…

    So far, Mr. Romney’s campaign has relied more on the “air war” — television advertising. In Florida, where he came from behind to beat Newt Gingrich, he ran far more advertisements than the other candidates.

    Almost all of these ads were negative, however, and almost all of them targeted Mr. Gingrich. There are two risks to Mr. Romney if he adopts a similar strategy in Michigan.

    First, Mr. Santorum might prove more resilient to the attacks. Mr. Romney will need to develop a more creative line than the one he has used so far, calling Mr. Santorum a “career politician.” That line may produce diminishing returns, since Mr. Romney has leveled a similar charge against opponents like Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry in the past, and since it is slightly discordant coming from someone who has spent most of the past six years running for president.

    The bigger problem, however, is that negative ads are no way to increase your base; instead, they may alienate key constituencies within the party.

    That could be especially important to Mr. Romney because the window of voting through Super Tuesday might represent the last chance for him to win the nomination by consensus, with voters coalescing around him. To date, they have rejected several opportunities to do so, and the evidence probably weighs against their doing so now, but a decisive set of victories in different parts of the country would allow Mr. Romney to make a credible pitch to voters and party elites.

    If, however, Mr. Romney gets only narrow wins in states like Michigan and Arizona after a negatively charged campaign, he would probably be the favorite to win the nomination, but a lot of those winning scenarios would be ugly ones, including an outside chance at a deadlocked convention…

    And, not having the Republican base behind him could doom Romney when it comes time for the general election, assuming he wins the primary, as Obama’s approval numbers continue to climb with every positive report on job creation. So, most poll watchers, from what I can tell, seem to think that Romney will run a positive campaign in Michigan, forgoing the negative tactics that have gotten him this far, and try to pick up some momentum with rank and file Republicans, who have, until now, been filling the coffers of Gingrich, Santorum and the other perceived “culture warriors”. Romney’s first television ad for the Michigan market, which was released today, would appear to confirm this non-attack, let’s-look-Presidential strategy. Here it is:

    Not a bad ad… if you can get beyond the fact that the car that he’s driving, or pretending to drive, was made in Canada.

    And, here, for comparative purposes, is Santorum’s first ad for the Michigan market, which, on the surface, attacks Romney for having a history of running attack ads. Ironic, right? It’s a great strategy for Santorum, in that it allows him to attack, and poke fun of Romney, who is portrayed by a bumbling look-alike in the ad, while still maintaining the perception that he alone has attained the moral high ground. One might question his use of imagery, though, as the mud being slung throughout the ad brings small-s santorum to mind.

    But, thanks to Super PAC spending, that’s not all. There’s also this anti-Santorum ad, released on behalf of the Romney campaign. While it’s not terribly aggressive, it raises a few points that may resonate with the Tea Party set, like the fact that Santorum once voted with Hillary Clinton to extend voting rights to felons.

    Romney’s got a hell of a way to go. Michigan should have been an easy win for him, given his ties to the state, and his corporate war chest, but people still can’t seem to muster the enthusiasm for him. And it doesn’t help that he penned that 2008 op-ed in the New York Times advocating against the auto company bailout. Word is Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will be endorsing Romney shortly, but I’m not sure that will carry much weight with the Tea Party types that are rallying around Santorum, in hopes that he might be able to roll back modernity, and restore some illusive sense of American religiosity and pride. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.

    Oh, it’s also worth mentioning that Romney is trying as best as he can to spin that New York Times editorial in which he said that we should let the GM and Chrysler fail. Here’s a clip from his op-ed in today’s Detroit News.

    I am a son of Detroit. I was born in Harper Hospital and lived in the city until my family moved to Oakland County.

    I grew up drinking Vernors and watching ballgames at Michigan & Trumbull. Cars got in my bones early. And not just any cars, American cars.

    When the president of American Motors died suddenly in 1954, my dad, George Romney, was asked to take his place. I was 7 and got my love of cars and chrome and fins and roaring motors from him. I grew up around the industry and watched it flourish. Years later, I watched with sadness as it floundered.

    Three years ago, in the midst of an economic crisis, a newly elected President Barack Obama stepped in with a bailout for the auto industry. The indisputable good news is that Chrysler and General Motors are still in business. The equally indisputable bad news is that all the defects in President Obama’s management of the American economy are evident in what he did.

    Instead of doing the right thing and standing up to union bosses, Obama rewarded them.

    A labor union that had contributed millions to Democrats and his election campaign was granted an ownership share of Chrysler and a major stake in GM, two flagships of the industry.The U.S. Department of Treasury — American taxpayers — was asked to become a majority stockholder of GM. And a politically connected and ethically challenged Obama-campaign contributor, the financier Steven Rattner, was asked to preside over all this as auto czar.

    This was crony capitalism on a grand scale. The president tells us that without his intervention things in Detroit would be worse. I believe that without his intervention things there would be better.

    My view at the time — and I set it out plainly in an op-ed in the New York Times — was that “the American auto industry is vital to our national interest as an employer and as a hub for manufacturing.” Instead of a bailout, I favored “managed bankruptcy” as the way forward.

    Managed bankruptcy may sound like a death knell. But in fact, it is a way for a troubled company to restructure itself rapidly, entering and leaving the courtroom sometimes in weeks or months instead of years, and then returning to profitable operation.

    In the case of Chrysler and GM, that was precisely what the companies needed. Both were saddled with an accumulation of labor, pension, and real estate costs that made them unsustainable. Health and retirement benefits alone amounted to an extra $2,000 baked into the price of every car they produced.

    Shorn of those excess costs, and shorn of the bungling management that had driven them into a deep rut, they could re-emerge as vibrant and competitive companies. Ultimately, that is what happened. The course I recommended was eventually followed. GM entered managed bankruptcy in June 2009 and exited it a month later in July…

    So, he would have saved the auto companies, but done it in such a way that they could have killed the unions, and driven labor costs down even further. Sounds great, right? Of course, people familiar with the situation at the time, don’t think that Romney’s plan would have worked, as no private firms would have given either GM or Chrysler the money they needed to reorganize after bankruptcy. Here, with more on that, is a clip from today’s New York Times.

    …Officials in Mr. Obama’s administration, and many economists in both parties, scoff at Mr. Romney’s suggestion that a managed bankruptcy was possible without the billions of dollars in government aid to the car companies. They say Wall Street and private equity firms in early 2009 were in no position to lend the kind of money that the companies needed to manage the bankruptcy process in an orderly fashion.

    They also point out a fact that Mr. Romney neglects to mention in Tuesday’s opinion article: that it was the Bush administration that made the initial loans to General Motors and Chrysler, starting the “bailouts” that Mr. Romney derides…

    All I can say with any certainty is that the next few weeks are going to be interesting ones for Michigan, with the candidates moving among us, desperately spinning the truth in order to stay alive and throwing mud (or that delightful mixture of fecal matter and lube shown in the ad above) as they accelerate toward the 28th. That is, if Santorum doesn’t implode before the primary, like Herman, Newt, and Rick did earlier in the season. (Romney’s clear hope is that people will see Santorum as a religious nut, who wants to make birth control illegal, but he’s afraid to say so himself, as it may turn off some of the backward Republican base, who long for the good old days when women had no control over their own fertility.)

    So, with all of that said, I’m curious to know which of the ads resonated with you? Do you buy Romney’s explanation as to why he suggested that we let GM and Chrysler go bankrupt? Do you accept Romney’s “I’m a regular Michigander” narrative? If you’re a Democrat, will you be crossing party lines to vote in the Republican primary, in hopes of keeping the crazy train rolling? And, regardless of party affiliation, who will you be voting for come the 28th?

    This entry was posted in Detroit, Michigan, Politics, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

      31 Comments

      1. Posted February 16, 2012 at 12:09 am | Permalink

        I didn’t link to it in the post, but The Wall Street Journal also has a video on Romney’s rocky road in Michigan.

      2. Elvis Costello
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

        Daily kos is having a current running debater about whether to support Santorum right now, as in the General election, he less electible. As a politics junkie, I’dlove to see a brokered GOP convention in the summer, with no one holding enough delegates to win. That would be TV worth watching.

      3. Edward
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 7:43 am | Permalink

        The Republican party needs to be torn down to the studs and rebuilt, like the Penn State football program. Through decades of fear mongering and inbreeding, they’ve cultivated a cancer, and I think, finally, the guys at the top are beginning to realize it. I’d say it was funny, if the consequences for America weren’t so terrifying. The fact that a pizza making ass pincher, a serial cheater that was drummed out of the House over ethics violations, and a prehistoric imbecile like Santorum were able to get this far is testament to the fact that the Republican system is not only broken, but dangerous to mankind.

      4. Watching Laughing.
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        GOP,,,
        ROTFLMAO!!!

        WL.

      5. K2
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        How does one go about crossing party lines and voting in the Republican primary? Do you have to register as a Republican? Is there still time?

      6. EOS
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

        Elvis,

        What about a brokered GOP convention that ends up nominating Jeb Bush? With the family money and political connections and two ex-presidents campaigning, how could Obama hope to win? If I were a Democrat, I would be hoping for a nomination of one of the current group of losers.

      7. Meta
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        Background on the Michigan Republican primary from Metafilter:

        The 2012 Michigan Republican primary will take place on February 28, 2012, Michigan was given 59 delegates to the GOP national convention, but this number was reduced to 30 as a penalty for bringing election date forward before 6th March as the GOP rules set. The candidate with the greatest number of votes in each of the 14 Congressional Districts will receive two delegates. The two remaining delegates will be given proportionally.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_Republican_primary,_2012

        Michigan has an “open” primary. Here are details.

        Any Michigan Republican is eligible to participate in the primary. A registered voter declares her or his party designation by selecting a Republican ballot at the polls. The voter’s choice becomes public information.

        http://www.thegreenpapers.com/P12/MI-R

        More:

        Voters do not have to declare a political party to vote; but must vote for all one party once they enter the voting booth.

        http://www.fairvote.org/congressional-and-presidential-primaries-open-closed-semi-closed-and-top-two#.Tz0NVcpVsvw

      8. Eel
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        Salon has a good article today. Here’s the best part.

        The other factor in my dismissing Santorum is that I’ve assumed Romney’s money would demolish Santorum the way it did Gingrich. And it may yet. But if Wednesday marked the opening of Romney’s scorched-earth campaign against Santorum, it didn’t scorch anything.

        Romney’s anti-Santorum ads are weak tea, compared with his ads against Gingrich. I even went to Rickfacts.com to find the outrages behind the ads. There aren’t any. Maybe Tea Party voters can get exercised over Santorum’s support for earmarks, raising the debt ceiling and other government spending, but I sort of doubt it. The worst thing Romney’s got on him is that he voted to restore the voting rights of certain felons, along with Hillary Clinton, in 2003. That makes me like Santorum a little bit, which I’m sure is a sign it will appall the Tea Party. Still, Clinton isn’t as polarizing as Nancy Pelosi, who relishes her role in bringing Gingrich down with that cozy, couch-sitting climate change ad. Romney’s new barrage makes me wonder if maybe, there isn’t that much material to use trashing Santorum. Or at least not much that Romney can use.

        The Obama campaign would have endless material, should Santorum survive the Romney contest. But the former Massachusetts governor can’t attack Santorum’s extremism, because on most social issues he’s gone out and joined him over on the far right. Now, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough says Romney folks are quietly behind several new media revelations about Santorum’s contraception extremism. But Romney can’t blast him in ads when he’s trying to join his side in the culture wars.

        On “Hardball” today, former Mike Huckabee campaign manager Chip Saltsman advised Romney to be himself, to run on his record – as a family man, a business man, a governor, and the head of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. But I don’t think it’s that easy. Romney and Santorum both have big, lovely-looking families. That’s a draw. He tried to run on his record as a “job creator” and business maven at Bain Capital, but it turns out he was also a job destroyer and his Bain role is part of what makes him the face of the top 1 percent. Attention to Romney’s business record was actually disastrous for him.

        Of course, his record as the Republican governor of a blue state, who paved the way in providing universal health insurance and accommodated Massachusetts liberalism on reproductive health, might really help him in a match with Obama, if he gets there. But he’s abandoned most of the positions that might attract independents and speak to his ability to get beyond the partisan gridlock everyone supposedly hates – a pitch that worked for a first-term senator from Illinois in 2008. Besides, that wouldn’t be much help during the primaries, anyway.

        Worst of all, his Michigan roots were supposed to make that state’s primary a cakewalk. But unbelievably – or not – Santorum’s now ahead there, too. Romney bet wrong when he declared in a 2008 New York Times op-ed that the president should let the auto industries go bankrupt, and he’s paying for it now (despite ridiculous attempts to spin what Obama did as somehow derived from his advice.) And in a sentimental ad about his Detroit roots, it turns out Romney is riding in a Chrysler manufactured in Canada. The guy can’t fake authenticity no matter how hard he tries.

        So all the former front-runner’s really got is his money to smear his opponents (I’m sorry I used the term “smear Santorum” on television tonight. It won’t happen again.) But his first barrage at Santorum won’t do much damage. In fact, Santorum released a surprisingly funny (normally funny and Santorum don’t mix) ad attacking “Rombo” for his well-funded mudslinging. It’s all in the video, below. I still think Romney is the candidate to beat, given his war chest and Santorum’s spare campaign, but he’s going to ride some tough road in his Canadian-manufactured Chrysler in the weeks to come.

        http://www.salon.com/2012/02/16/rombos_got_nothing_on_santorum/singleton/

      9. Tommy
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        … the guy can’t fake authenticity no matter how hard he tries … pretty much sums it up. Romney is a con artist who stands for nothing. He panders to whoever he thinks will benefit him at the time (the OpEd on letting the autos go bankrupt). Counter that with someone who will take us back to the Salem witch trials, who doesn’t believe in science and who is for Tort Reform – as long as it is not his wife -who sues a chiropractor for a 1/2 million for fucking up a back alignment and on whose behalf he testitifies on why 500K is a good amount as oppsed to the 18K of actual follow on medical costs.

        Whereas I agree (hard swallow) with EOS that Jeb Bush would make a better candidate – won’t happen. Too much baggage from his retarded brother.

      10. BrianB
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

        O’rielly was saying this morning that it doesn’t matter who the republican nominee is because gas prices will hit $6 a gallon and Obama will lose no matter what. That’s my only fear, really, that our next president will be whoever th oil companies pick to do their bidding once they’ve rigged the game, which could be Jeb @ a brokered convention like eos said. I’m not worried about any of these clowns beating obama on their own merits.

      11. Demetrius
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        I suppose if Jeb Bush got the nomination he could select Dick Cheney as his running mate. That way, they could take office just in time to invade Iraq … er, I mean IRAN.

      12. Mr. X
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        We should alternate every year between big banks and big oil as to who gets to choose the President.

      13. Demetrius
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        Don’t forget the insurance companies.

      14. anonymous
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        An interesting side note about Santorum. He wouldn’t be our nation’s first Catholic president. Kennedy has that distinction. He would, however be our first never nude.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gymnophobia

      15. Elf
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        Did Romney say in his ad, when making the case against the auto bailout, that Obama has done things that the liberals have been trying to do for years? Is he suggesting that the liberals have been longing for decades for an opportunity to bail out the auto companies? That’s one hell of a conspiracy theory.

        As for who I’ll be voting for, I’ll be writing in “The rotting corpse of Charlton Heston tied to the front of a black smoke-belching, gas powered raping machine”.

      16. anonymous
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

        If the camera was another five feet back in the Romney ad, you’d be able to see the dog on the roof of his car.

      17. Jiggs
        Posted February 17, 2012 at 3:13 am | Permalink

        I agree, all of these guys are clowns. But I feel I should point out that what was left out of this post entirely was any mention of Ron Paul. I’m curious where he stands in all of this. (And I’m not a “RON PAUL 2012″ kind of guy, I’m honestly just curious.)

      18. Mike Shecket
        Posted February 17, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        The candidate with the greatest number of votes in each of the 14 Congressional Districts will receive two delegates. The two remaining delegates will be given proportionally.

        Well, this is interesting. Mitt could crush Santorum in Oakland County and even narrowly beat him in the state overall and still get almost none of the delegates.

      19. Mike Shecket
        Posted February 17, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        Oops, I meant to put that first part in a quotey thing. How do I do a quotey thing like Eel did up there?

      20. Meta
        Posted February 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        From Sam Stein:

        Former Sen. Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign and his allied super PAC are putting all their chips into Michigan in hopes that a win there catapults him to victories later in the primary calendar.

        A Democratic source sends over details, obtained from an ad tracker, of the television ad purchases being made by the Santorum campaign and the super PAC, Red White and Blue Fund, along with those being made by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his allied super PAC, Restore our Future.

        The data underscores the huge cash advantage that Romney and his backers enjoy over his nearest opponents — a disparity that has played out on the airwaves as well. But it also gives a peek into the mindset at Santrum’s campaign headquarters and reveals much about the judgments being made by his main backer, Foster Friess.

        Rather than spread its limited resources over the next critical states, Team Santorum is betting big on Michigan, in part because the state, like Arizona, will hold its primary one week before Super Tuesday, but also because it may be an easier grab. Romney has firm roots in the state, owing to his father’s time as its governor, but recent polls show Santorum with a decent-sized lead. The former senator’s heavy focus on reinvigorating American manufacturing also creates a nice contrast with Romney’s muddled position on the auto bailout.

        Below is a breakdown of the Romney v. Santorum numbers, with the date of the election next to the state. The source who passed them along noted that this is money spent for “reserved” advertising. “It’s all new, so it’s for spots over next couple weeks.”

        Michigan (February 28)
        Romney and Restore our Future — $3.2 million
        Santorum and Red White and Blue Fund — $1.1 Million
        Disparity — 3:1

        The rest can be found here-
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/17/rick-santorum-michigan-super-pac_n_1284359.html

      21. Meta
        Posted February 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        You’ll find the answer to your coding question here, Mike.

        http://www.ncsu.edu/it/edu/html_trng/basic_commands.html

        Scroll down till you come to “Blockquote”.

      22. Edward
        Posted February 19, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        “Romney co-chair resigns after allegations of same-sex relationship with immigrant.”

        http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/pvpsb/romney_cochair_resigns_after_allegations_of/

      23. Meta
        Posted February 21, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        Bob Lutz responded to Romeny’s claims.

        Former General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz on Friday sharply criticized Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, defending the rescue of GM and Chrysler as a “necessary government intervention.”

        “He thinks we didn’t try” to borrow money from the banks, Lutz said. “The banks were even more broke than we were. Who had the money?”

        Romney’s stance that the government should not have lent money to GM and Chrysler has become a source of controversy a little more than a week before the Feb. 28 Michigan GOP primary.

        Romney has said the government should only have provided loan guarantees and not invested directly in the auto companies. But Lutz said, “Loan guarantees don’t do any good if the banks don’t have any money.”

        He also criticized Romney for accusing the Obama administration of engaging in crony capitalism by putting the interests of the UAW ahead of other parties.

        “We took their (UAW) health care away,” Lutz said of the equity interest the union received in the automakers. “It wasn’t a freebie.”

        http://www.freep.com/article/20120218/BUSINESS01/202180355/Lutz-U-S-auto-bailouts-were-necessary

      24. Eel
        Posted February 21, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        Romney calculated wrong. When he wrote that “Let Detroit Fail” piece for the New York Times, he clearly never thought that his Presidential prospects would all come down to the Michigan primary. It’s funny how karma works.

      25. Meta
        Posted February 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        Think Progress has a cool info graphic on why the bailout was the right thing to do.

        http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/02/21/429291/infographic-auto-industry-rescue/

      26. Meta
        Posted February 24, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

        Romney pulls ahead in Michigan.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/mitt-romney-polls-michigan-ahead-arizona-lead_n_1300073.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

      27. Meta
        Posted February 24, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

        Of course, scenes like this make one think that he’s still having a problem connection with the men and women of Michigan.

        http://img.ly/em2N

      28. Mike Shecket
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        Oh yeah!

        !
        !
        !

      29. Meta
        Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        Romney has one thing that Santorum doesn’t…… the support of Kid Rock!

        http://canton-mi.patch.com/articles/kid-rock-joins-mitt-romney-on-stage-at-royal-oak-music-theatre

      30. Meta
        Posted May 8, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

        Romney: ‘I’ll take a lot of credit’ for saving the auto industry

        http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/08/romney-ill-take-a-lot-of-credit-for-saving-the-auto-industry/

      31. Gustav
        Posted March 6, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        We desperately need this man to be the Emergency Manager of Detroit. He clearly “gets” us, and what we’re about.

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      1. [...] vote for Santorum tomorrow in the Republican primary?By Mark | February 27, 2012A week or so ago, when discussing the Michigan Republican primary, some of you indicated that you intended to cross party lines in oder to vote for Rick Santorum. [...]

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