Mitt Romney

The headlines were horrifying yesterday for Mitt Romney supporters. One new poll had Romney trailing Rick Santorum in Michigan, Romney’s birthplace, by six points -- thirty-three to twenty-seven. The other poll was worse. It had Romney behind by fifteen points -- thirty-nine to twenty-four. Those are staggering numbers. And anything but the kind of Valentine the former Massachusetts governor expected to receive. How could this be?

3 things to know about Mitt Romney’s latest Op-Ed

Feb 14, 2012
Matthew Reichbach / Flickr

Yesterday, we told you that Michigan’s native son, Mitt Romney, has fallen behind former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in two pre-primary polls.

Now, Romney is firing back in the Detroit News. not at his rival, but at union leaders and Obama administration officials.

Romney touches on many themes about the 2009 auto industry bailout.

You can read the entire op-ed here.

We picked out three things and provide some context.


Rick Santorum is leading in a new poll of likely Republican presidential primary voters in Michigan.   The primary is in two weeks. 

A poll by Public Policy Polling finds 39% of likely primary voters (70% Republicans/30% Democrats and Independents) say they support the former Pennsylvania United States Senator.


As Michigan Radio's Zoe Clark pointed out this morning, the stakes have been raised for Michigan's upcoming Republican presidential primary now that Rick Santorum pulled off a three state sweep last night.

The Republican candidates will be campaigning hard to win the state's 16 electoral votes.

For Mitt Romney, he might again face questions about his stance on GM and Chrysler's bailout.

In November of 2008, he wrote an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times with the headline "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" in which he argues the automakers should go through a managed bankruptcy.

Now, comedians from Chicago's Second City club have created a spoof of the Clint Eastwood Chrysler ad taking a shot at Romney at the end. In it, their version of Eastwood says:

"I've seen a lot of tough eras, a lot of downturns in my life. And sometimes it's best to lie down and watch from the couch. You can't win 'em all, right?"

Here's the Second City spoof:

Romney has maintained that the Obama Administration eventually adopted his call for a managed bankruptcy. The Washington Post took closer look at Romney's stance on the auto bailouts. They concluded:

Romney is correct when he says he has been consistent on the question of bailouts for the auto industry, but he pushes the envelope when he suggests the Obama administration, after wasting billions, ultimately reached the same conclusion. By most accounts, Romney’s approach would not have been viable in the depths of the economic crisis.

So what do you think. Will Romney's stance on the auto bailouts help him, or hurt him in Michigan's Republican primary?

Headlines across the country are proclaiming big news from last night’s primary and caucuses in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado. Headlines like Santorum revives his campaign with wins and Santorum’s Sweep Shakes up Race make it clear: Rick Santorum had a pretty darn good Tuesday night. The former U.S. Senator won all three states in play.

Although, no delegates were assigned, Santorum has something else: momentum. “Together, the three states voting Tuesday will eventually award 128 delegates. But Missouri was a ‘beauty contest’ with no delegates at stake, while Minnesota and Colorado were nonbinding events with delegates to be chosen this spring. At stake Tuesday night was the prestige of winning. And Santorum nailed down three upsets to restore an air of viability to his candidacy,” the Washington Post explains. The Post continues:

Santorum’s wins across the Midwest Tuesday could bestow new legitimacy on his insurgent efforts and boost his fundraising in the critical period before nextmonth’s major contests. Santorum now appears to pose a more serious threat not only to Romney, but also to Gingrich, who had been positioning himself as the logical alternative to Romney.


David Markland / Flickr

The Detroit Economic Club says Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans to address the group a few days before Michigan's primary.

The club says in a posting on its website that Romney is scheduled to appear at a midday event Feb. 24 at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel.

Michigan's presidential primary is Feb. 28.

The club says a limited number of tickets will be available to attend the Michigan native's speech. Details are posted on the club's website.

On Fridays, Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and I have been taking a look at state politics, we’ve been trying to dig a little deeper beneath the week's political news. And, it sure seemed like one story, in particular, was making all the headlines this week.  Headlines like, “Romney Rebounds with Victory in Florida,” and, “Where Has the Newt-Mentum Gone?”

Just like Star Wars… (Well, sort of)

This week’s 2012 GOP Presidential primary storyline got us thinking about that classic scene from Stars Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi where Princess Leia and Han Solo have been captured by Jabba the Hutt and Luke Skywalker tries to come to their rescue. Things don’t go as planned and Luke ends up captured, too. Trying to gauge the severity of the situation Han asks Luke, “How are we doing?” Luke answers, “The same as always.” Han, with his characteristically dry sense of humor, responds, “that bad, huh?”

“Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and crew sort of made us think of Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, coming into the Michigan primary – which is now just about three weeks away – and Gingrich almost seems to be in a position of ‘now, I’ve got them exactly where I want them.’ You know, he’s an underdog, the odds are stacked against him… what Gingrich, Santorum and Paul all seem to be fighting is this aura of inevitability that is surrounding Romney,” Pluta explains.

Okay, so maybe it’s not an exact parallel but Pluta and I, at least, had a reason to watch some scenes from Star Wars. (And, just as a side note, there’s quite a bit in the Star Wars movies that can be compared to American politics. But, that’s a whole different story for a whole different time).

“A couple of weeks is a long time in American Politics.” – Peter Jennings

That well-known saying from Peter Jennings is something I always try to remember as I’m listening to or reading the latest from the political pundits. Yes, Romney surely seems to have the “Big-Mo” (the all-important “momentum” that Pluta and I have discussed before) coming out of Florida, but, let’s play Devil’s Advocate for a minute, shall we? Pluta explains that, contrary to conventional wisdom, there are some reasons that Romney could have a difficult time winning the Michigan primary:

Now that the Florida primary is over, we’re bound to see increasing media attention on Michigan. We’re the next big state to hold a primary election, though not till the end of the month.

Native son Mitt Romney is heavily favored, but the fact that Newt Gingrich badly needs a win somewhere means we may see a fair amount of campaigning here.

Unless you’ve been living on Mars, or, at least, somewhere where there isn’t radio, television or the internet, you’ve most likely heard MORE than enough about the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, the “game-changing” South Carolina primary and, of course, who could forget about tomorrow's all-important Florida primary.

Well, maybe you’re like me and Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing Bureau Chief Rick Pluta and you feel like Michigan is getting left out of the conversation. Well, fear not, Pluta joined me on Friday to take a look at  Michigan’s Republican primary, scheduled for February 28th.

Romney has got this thing wrapped up... No, he doesn't. Oh wait, yes, he does.

We've got about a month to go before Michigan voters head to the polls for the state's presidential primary and it seems like one day we're hearing that Michigan's primary REALLY matters - that, indeed, the state will be influential in the Republican nominating process. But, then, just when we thought Michigan was important we hear the political pundits take back their political proclamations - claiming that no, in fact, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has got the state wrapped up. "I guess this is further evidence," Pluta says, "that anyone who is allowed to be a pundit should be required to wear something that says 'Don't follow me, I'm lost.'"

Michigan will matter... Really!

"Just a few weeks ago, we were written off," Pluta says, but, "things have changed so much since New Hampshire, we then had the Newt Gingrich surge... called Newtmentum. So, now... everyone is waiting to see what happens in Florida... and, then, we'll come out of that, and we'll go into Colorado and Minnesota - state's that really aren't as big as Michigan - and then, after February 7th, we have 21 days where there's nothing... and then the Michigan and Arizona primaries. And, Michigan WILL matter because momentum is everything going into Super Tuesday which happens shorty after Michigan and Arizona."

It's all about the "Big-Mo"... (Momentum, that is)

It's called the Big-Mo, or Big-Momentum, at least that's what political scientists and campaign strategists call it, and it's important. "I've talked to Republican strategists and they say, in a primary season, everything is about momentum. People are jumping in with whoever is surging and they're dropping off with whoever is lagging and so that's what you really, really want going into that all important Super Tuesday primary and Michigan is going to set the stage for that," Pluta explains. So, the idea is this: win Michigan and you go into Super Tuesday as a strong candidate with the air of inevitability.

Early primary = Fewer delegates

We reported quite a bit, last year, as the Michigan legislature tried to pick a date for the Michigan primary. Republican leaders wanted an early date for the primary - figuring that the earlier in the year the primary was held, the more influence the state would have in the national Republican campaign.

The only problem: Michigan broke the rules by holding an early primary. The date, "violates [Republican] Party rules and that will very likely result in Michigan's delegation to the Republican National Convention to be cut in half but, the [State] Legislature is really dominated by Romney supporters and what they wanted to do was... give Romney an early victory... that creates momentum going forward. It was actually considered more important for Romney to have that early momentum going ahead than to actually rack up as many delegates as he possibly could coming out of Michigan," Pluta explains.

If you are a political trivia buff, you may know that nobody from Michigan has ever been elected president. Gerald Ford, remember, was appointed vice president, took over when Richard Nixon resigned, and then lost his bid for election on his own.

In fact, nobody born in Michigan has ever been president at all. Ford was born in Nebraska. The closest we’ve actually come to a native son in the White House was Thomas E. Dewey, who was the Republican nominee twice in the nineteen-forties.

Associated Press

Michigan native and GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is drawing fire from Michigan Democrats for remarks he made on a radio program this week.

At the very end of a radio interview Romney called the Chevy Volt “an idea whose time has not come.”

There was little context for the remark, but Democrats seized on it. They say it’s part of a pattern of Romney “rooting for the US auto industry to fail.”

screen grab from YouTube video

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is sticking to his Michigan roots, at least in his choice of campaign song.

Romney has chosen "Born Free" by Detroit-area rocker Kid Rock to serve as the theme music for his bid for the Republican nomination.

While a post on Kid Rock's website seems to give at least tacit approval to Romney's use of the song, things don't always go so smoothly for candidates when choosing their soundtracks.

Michigan Radio has put together a list of controversies, disputes, and gaffes related to campaign songs:

  1. In what might be deemed a classic of campaign song missteps, Bruce Springsteen was none too happy when Ronald Reagan praised "Born in the U.S.A" during his 1984 campaign, as told by CNN.
  2. Earlier this year, Rolling Stone reported that Republican primary contender Michelle Bachmann drew the ire of Tom Petty for using his song "American Girl" to tout her patriotism and her position as the only woman in the Republican field.
  3. Apparently, Bachmann didn't learn anything from President George W. Bush who was scolded by Petty back in 2000 for using "I Won't Back Down" without permission.
  4. A post from reports that in 2008, John McCain had a heap of campaign song troubles, receiving cease and desist requests from John Mellencamp, Boston, Foo Fighters, and Jackson Browne in response to his use of their songs.
  5. McCain's running-mate Sarah Palin also took heat for using "Barracuda" by Heart as her intro music at the Republican National Convention. As Rolling Stone reports, a press release from the band said the song was written as "a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women" and that the band found "irony in Republican strategists' choice to make use of it there."
  6. In a more creative, but no less artist-angering effort, Bob Dole rewrote the lyrics to the 1960's Sam & Dave hit "Soul Man,"  to create the eponymous "Dole Man," before being threatened by the song's rights-holders (again from
  7. Not to be accused of partisanship, however, Sam Moore of the above mentioned duo took issue with Barack Obama's use of the group's song "Hold On, I'm Comin.'" As Mother Jones reports, Moore was nonplussed by the politicization of a song about "gettin girls."
  8. While not technically a campaign song per se, Herman Cain became the punch-line of more than a few jokes (many of them made by the Daily Show's John Stewart) for quoting the theme song of the Pokemon movie during his speeches.
  9. If the above stories show that misuse of music by political candidates is an increasingly-common occurrence, then at least, as the Washington Post reports, Charlie Christ had the decency to record a video apology to David Byrne of the Talking Heads for his unauthorized use of the song "Road to Nowhere."

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney went back to his Michigan roots to choose a campaign theme song.

“Born Free” by Michigan native Kid Rock has been chosen as Romney's official campaign theme. A Romney staffer confirmed the music selection with Michigan Radio this afternoon.


Mitt Romney may be the current front runner for the GOP presidential nomination, but forty-four years ago his father George Romney was in a similar position. Michigan Radio’s political analyst Jack Lessenberry gives us a historical perspective and explains the similarities and differences between the two Romneys and the two eras.

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) - A day after he refused to endorse an Ohio ballot measure that limits public employee union rights, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said Wednesday that he is "110
percent" behind the effort.

While he was in Ohio on Tuesday, Romney seemed to distance himself from anti-union measures that have lost popularity in recent months. Campaigning a day later, the former Massachusetts governor told reporters that he supports the ballot measure aimed at restricting collective bargaining rights for state employees.

"I'm sorry if I created any confusion in that regard. I fully support Gov. (John) Kasich's - I think it's called Question Two in Ohio. Fully support that," Romney said after visiting a local GOP office in the Washington suburbs. "Actually, on my website, I think back as early as April, I laid out that I support Question Two and Gov. Kasich's effort to restrict collective bargaining in Ohio."

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is outpacing all other candidates in fund-raising  Michigan – including President Obama.

Mitt Romney’s roots go deep in Michigan. He was born and raised here. His father was governor from 1963 to 1969.

Inside Michigan Politics editor Bill Ballenger says Romney’s got a widespread net of supporters.

"Mitt Romney is so far ahead, it’s not even a contest," Ballenger says. "And no other presidential candidate even has a presence in Michigan.”

You don’t have to be a cranky old man like me to think that presidential campaigns start far too early these days.

The next election is still more than a year away, but the campaign already has been going on for months and months.

Some candidates, like Minnesota’s Tom Pawlenty, have already dropped out of the race. Former Massachusetts governor and Michigan native Mitt Romney said recently that he thinks it is too late for someone new to get in, and he is probably right.

It takes too much money to run a winning campaign today, and much to the cash available has already been sewn up.

Compare this to the way things were in nineteen sixty eight, when Robert Kennedy didn’t even get into the race until the middle of March and might well have been nominated, if he hadn’t been killed.

But if it is too late for someone new to start a campaign, it is also too early for anyone to have any idea who is going to win.

Last weekend was certainly a good one for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. He took the Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island by storm. Romney was expected to do well here.

He was born in Detroit; his father was a popular and respected governor in the nineteen-sixties, and he is seen as a native son, even though he hasn’t lived in Michigan since nineteen sixty-five.

But he performed even better than expected. By nearly all accounts, he considerably outpointed his main rival, Texas Governor Rick Perry, when the two addressed state party leaders.

Jpwbee / Flickr

On the heels of last night’s Republican presidential debate, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney are heading to Mackinac Island. The two GOP presidential candidates are scheduled to attend the Michigan Republican Leadership Conference this weekend.

As Rick Pluta tell us, it’s a time for Republicans to brainstorm their policies and political messages:

"It's where half of the political culture is going to be. [They'll] be developing the platforms and messages that they're going to be coming back to us with next year...  to try and make the case that it ought to be another Republican year."

Pluta notes that fundraising also plays an important part at the conference:

"Conceivably its to network and to plot strategy but, it's on a resort island, and it's really for Republicans who have the money or the means to go up there so, as you can imagine, there's a lot of fundraising... as the individual GOP campaigns figure out how they're going to finance their efforts."

Governor Snyder will address the conference this evening. The events wrap up on Sunday.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The latest state poll of likely voters has mixed news for one Republican presidential contender with Michigan roots and downright bad news for another.