ABC News’ Michael Falcone:
After a string of losses in three primaries earlier this week, Mitt Romney appears to be taking pains to keep expectations in check for his performance in the coming contests — even the one in his home state of Michigan.
“I’d like to win Arizona and Michigan because, of course, there are a lot of delegates at stake,” Romney said in an interview with Neil Cavuto on the Fox Business network on Thursday.
But Romney was evidently not in a predicting mood. “I can’t make a prediction as to what will happen. Last time I won, but I think I won by two points. So it was pretty darned close,” Romney said. “I’m not expecting a landslide.”
“Pretty darned close”? As it turns out Romney won the state in 2008 by more than 9 points — not two — over his rival and the eventual GOP nominee, Sen. John McCain.
And when it comes to the primaries ahead — Michigan and Arizona hold contests on Feb. 28 and another 10 states will do so on Mar. 6 — Romney continued to lower expectations.
“I expect that I’ll lose a number of states before we actually get to a point where I get the 1,150 delegates that I need,” Romney said.
Romney or one of his opponents will need 1,144 delegates to clinch the nomination and the former Massachusetts governor acknowledged that it would be “mathematically possible” for him to arrive at this summer’s Republican National Convention without a majority of the delegates, but “unlikely.”
“I must admit,” he said, “I’d be a little surprised if we went all the way until, what, August or September, until we had a nominee. That would — that would be unusual.”
In the interview, Romney also dismissed criticism from some top Republicans, including Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., that he was “playing it safe” to the detriment of his campaign.
“Well, actually, we played pretty hard in Florida,” Romney replied when Cavuto confronted him with DeMint’s words.
“We worked almost around the clock,” in that state, Romney said and “worked tirelessly” in Nevada. He won both states.
“And when it comes to working hard,” Romney added, “I haven’t been home since Christmas, Neil.”