ABC News’ John Berman, Ursula Fahy, and Matt Stuart Report: Mitt Romney returned to South Carolina Wednesday after his win in the Michigan primary, trying to expand his Michigan-centric message to rest of the country.
Speaking with reporters after an event in Bluffton, SC, Romney tried to claim that his win in Michigan initially "did not look like it was a possible job to do," even though he and Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., who won the Michigan primary in 2000, were in a tight race for first in the state.
In fact, when asked by reporters about his lagging poll position in Michigan last week, Romney himself touted polls showing him ahead by one point.
Romney was born in Michigan and his father, George Romney, served three terms as governor, a fact he reminded Michiganders of at every stop last week.
But the day after his Wolverine victory, Romney claimed it was "a real thrill" to win there because "I hadn’t lived in Michigan since 1965."
Now that he has left the state, Romney is working even harder to expand his message beyond the state, so as not to appear too focused on just the needs of Michigan. Romney said on Wednesday that what’s true of trouble in the auto industry is "true of many other industries that have been found in trouble."
While Romney was highly critical this week of McCain’s comment that some jobs weren’t returning to Michigan, Romney today said, "Will there be some jobs that leave? There may from time to time.
Romney also said that "growth. . . may be in a different form it may require new skills and therefore training for the workers that take the new positions."
Continuing to down play the importance of South Carolina, where Romney has spent a significant amount of time and money, Romney called McCain the "clear frontrunner," and claimed Nevada’s delegates were more important than the more notable primary in South Carolina.
Romney said of South Carolina, "(I’d) like to do better than my current place, which is fourth."
Looking ahead to Florida’s primary on Tuesday, January 29, Romney claimed, "Florida looks wide open. Instead of being the firewall for the Giuliani campaign, it’s going to be a real contest."
ABC News’ Bret Hovell contributed to this report.