Politics
5:46 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Michigan gets some lovin' from the Republican presidential candidates

By now, it's probably not news to you that Michigan holds the nation’s next presidential primary on February 28th. And, it’s likely to be a doozy. It’s even been likened to one of the nation’s most historically important wars by Bloomberg News:  “For Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, Michigan may be their political Gettysburg."

So, it’s no surprise that the two aforementioned GOP candidates spent quite a bit of time campaigning this week in the mitten-state. Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and I took a look this afternoon at all the love Michigan is suddenly getting.

Michigan feels pretty

It’s hard to blame Michigan for the sudden burst in self-esteem… she’s been getting a whole lot of lovin’ as of late. (You’ll probably want to hear the extent of that love with a montage – click the 'listen' button above - of Mitt Romney telling us how much he likes, excuse me, loves, our autos, our lakes… even the height of our trees). “Mitt Romney used the word ‘love’ no fewer than five times… or even a bit more,” when he spoke at a Chamber of Commerce event yesterday, Pluta notes.

Michigan has got two Beaus

But, it’s not just Mitt Romney that loves Michigan. No, no, no. The state is also getting courted by Rick Santorum. And, it appears, at least in the latest polls, that Republicans in the state prefer the gentleman from Pennsylvania. In, “every poll that anyone is aware of, Santorum is leading native-son Mitt Romney in the primary here by anything from between nine and 14 points,” Pluta notes. Santorum was part of two marquee events yesterday in the state. First, he spoke before the influential Detroit Economic Club. Then, he spoke before the Oakland County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner later in the evening.

Snyder steals Santorum’s thunder

Although Santorum did have two big events scheduled yesterday there was some other news that also made some headlines: Governor Snyder announced his endorsement of Mitt Romney in Southeast Michigan, just around the same time that Santorum was speaking to another crowd... also in Southeast Michigan. “The timing [of the endorsement] was interesting… so, it begs the question: why now? It nudged Mitt Romney just a little bit higher in the news coverage… at the very least, held its own, against whatever attention that Santorum was getting on what was supposed to be his big day,” Pluta explains. It’s interesting to note that Snyder’s endorsement of Romney made many more national headlines (Snyder even appeared yesterday evening on CNN to talk about the endorsement) than Santorum’s two, relatively important, state appearances.

A gubernatorial endorsement: Important vs. ‘Who cares?’

So, what's the value of Snyder’s endorsement to the Romney campaign? “Well, certainly, there was some value in terms of making sure that the Romney name was played prominently alongside Santorum,” Pluta notes, and maybe the endorsement will get some voters to take another, possibly more positive, look at him.

But, a Snyder endorsement could also backfire: “Rick Snyder is an establishment Republican and really the fight in Michigan seems to be for very conservative Republicans and that is a crowd that is usually very suspicious of establishment Republicans,” Pluta explains. This could lead a conservative voter to look somewhere else: perhaps toward a Santorum or a Gingrich. You can get two different opinions on the Snyder endorsement here or read what Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry has to say about it here.

Though we don't know, as of now, for whom conservatives in Michigan will vote on the 28th, we do know one thing: trying to guess how they'll vote might just be, as of now, a fool's errand.