For Romney, Santorum in Michigan, the Sound of One Hand Clapping

Feb 28, 2012 1:28pm
ap mitt romney rick santorum ll 120228 wblog For Romney, Santorum in Michigan, the Sound of One Hand Clapping

Credit: Gerald Herbert/AP Photo|Eric Gay/AP Photo

Michigan. It’s the state where they make cars. But more importantly, it’s the state that is shaped like a hand, and for the last two weeks, that hand has had an unprecedented grip on the presidential Republican contest.

Candidates have been traveling from the pinky to the forefinger of the Great Lakes state, trying to get a thumbs up from voters.

First the ring finger: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney LOVES Michigan and he hasn’t let us forget he was born and raised there.

“I want to make Michigan stronger and better. Michigan has been my home and this is personal,” Romney says in an ad released last week entitled “Growing Up.”

Just how personal? His father George Romney was president of the American Motors Corporation and the Detroit Trade Association before he became governor of the state. Mitt Romney also met his wife, Ann Romney, in Michigan when they were teenagers.

Next stop, the middle finger: Something both Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum show each other in a matter of ways.

“He said he did it to take one for the team, but my team is the people of Michigan and of America, and I’m going to fight for you,” Romney said at a campaign rally in Traverse City, Mich., Monday.

Santorum was also passing through Traverse City. He mocked Romney’s convictions and the former governor’s claims that he is resolute.

“Maybe he doesn’t understand what the term ‘resolute’ means, but it means that you’re supposed to have sort of a resolve, a consistent pattern of believes,” Santorum told voters.

But for Romney, a bigger finger problem might be the pinky — the one that some rich elitist types raise when they drink their tea.

During this two-week fight in Michigan, this private equity giant, who is worth more than $200 million, stumbled through some gaffes, first revealing that his wife drives not just one but “a couple” of Cadillacs. Then when asked on the campaign trail if he followed NASCAR, Romney said, “not as closely as some of the most ardent fans, but I have some friends who are NASCAR team owners.”

While Romney might leave his former home state as the winner, achieving an impressive comeback, critics say it might very well be on a mantle of being out of touch with common Americans – the ones Romney will need in a general election.

As for Rick Santorum, the hand is clearly a right hand, signifying a rightward shift in his campaign rhetoric. During an interview with “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos last week, Santorum attacked a famous speech President John F. Kennedy made in 1960 on the separation of church and state.

“When I read the JFK speech, it made me want to throw up,” Santorum said.

He also went after President Obama for suggesting all kids should go to college, and called him “a snob.

Whether you agree with their statements in the GOP contest, the candidates’ language appears to be turning off independent voters. In an ABC News poll out Tuesday, just 32 percent of independents said they see Santorum favorably, compared to 29 percent for Romney. Four years ago at this time, then-Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., were at or above 60 percent favorability among independents.

The direction of the 2012 GOP campaign has left some Republicans wondering if another candidate should get in the race.

A win is a win, and a victory in Michigan is sweet enough, but that applause from Republicans might be feint, and really the sound of one hand clapping.

 

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