Mitt Romney: Past Is Prologue

(Image Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone ) and AMY WALTER ( @amyewalter )

On the campaign trail in Michigan this week, it seemed like the automobile bailout was just yesterday.

Mitt Romney, a native son of the state whose family has long ties to the industry, spent the better part of the week re-litigating his position on the  bailout  rather than offering a broad brush vision for the future. And yesterday he was confronted with the news that General Motors earned $7.6 billion in profits in 2011.

At a campaign event, Romney said he was "delighted" by GM's success and continued to promote his own support of a managed bankruptcy rather than the government bailout.

"I love the businesses of this state, I love the auto industry. I want to see it thrive and grow," Romney said. "I'm glad it went through a managed bankruptcy process, which I recommended from the very beginning, to shed unnecessary costs and get its footing again. I'm delighted it's profitable."

Just a few days ago, in a Detroit News Op-Ed, Romney called the bailout "crony capitalism on a grand scale." He wrote, "The president tells us that without his intervention things in Detroit would be worse. I believe that without his intervention things there would be better."

And as he battles a momentum-driven Rick Santorum, even Romney's newly-minted endorser, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, was appealing to voters to stop "dwelling" on the former Massachusetts governor's stance on the bailout.

"Instead of spending any time talking about the past, I would rather be asking all the candidates the question, 'What are you going to do to drop the unemployment rate in half?'" Snyder said at a Lincoln Day Dinner in Detroit. "That's what our citizens really care about, not the auto bailout, but, what are we going to do to do more and better jobs for the future?"

But it looks like Romney is going to be spending more time on what he did years ago as he heads to Utah this weekend to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, which he ran.

As the Washington Post's Rosalind Helderman notes, "Romney has a complicated relationship with federal funding. As the head of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, he led an aggressive effort to win hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid for the struggling Winter Games."

It's a point that the Democratic National Committee is making in a hard-hitting new web video. The spot accuses Romney of failing to note that Olympics received what the DNC calls a "$1.3 billion federal bailout." The video even features old interviews with Romney backer Sen. John McCain calling the Olympics a "rip off of the taxpayer" and a "national disgrace." WATCH:

Romney mentions his leadership of the Olympic Games on the campaign trail all the time, but if  his opponents have their way, they will once again force him to defend his past.

ABC's George Stephanopoulos explains why Michigan is Mitt Romney's D-Day - if he doesn't win there, he might lose the nomination or go all the way to the convention trying to get it. WATCH:


DEMOCRATIC COUNTER-PROGRAMMING. The super PAC American Bridge is out with a video of their own today - this one is called: "Detroit Is Back: No Thanks Mitt." It features several clips of Romney rejecting the bailout of the auto industry followed by a series of positive news stories about the auto companies' recent profits. At the end of the video, a photo of new cars rolling off the assembly lines appears on the screen as the words: "Detroit is Back, no thanks to Mitt," flash on the screen. WATCH:


THE STIMULUS' UNHAPPY BIRTHDAY. ABC's Matt Negrin takes a trip down memory lane: Three years ago, President Obama signed into law the famed stimulus package known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. "Stimulus" is such a dirty word today that hardly anybody in the White House says it publicly anymore. But for old time's sake, let's go to the highlights reel: "What makes this recovery plan so important is not just that it will create or save three-and-a-half million jobs over the next two years. … It's that we're putting Americans to work doing the work that America needs done, work that will bring real and lasting change for generations to come." - President Obama on Feb. 17, 2009 "If it fails, I'm dead." - Vice President Biden on Sept. 24, 2009 "I just took a moment to look over the draft from Chairman [David] Obey and the draft outline from Chairman [Charles] Rangel. Oh. My. God." -House Minority Leader John Boehner on Feb. 15, 2009. More where that came from:

REPUBLICAN COUNTER-PROGRAMMING. The Republican National Committee is not letting the anniversary of the Obama administration's stimulus plan go unrecognized. They've suggested a Twitter hashtag for the day - #StimulusFail - are out with a new web video called "The Promise That Became A Punch Line" that "highlights the president's promises of what the Stimulus would accomplish with reality with Obama acknowledging 'shovel ready was not as shovel ready as we expected.'" WATCH:  The RNC also provides a research memo: "Stimulus Watch: Where Did All The Money Go? A state by state breakdown of the Stimulus failures:"


THIS WEEK ON "THIS WEEK": JOHN MCCAIN. ABC News Senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper hosts this Sunday's edition of "This Week." Jake welcomes Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who joins the program for a live Sunday morning interview from Afghanistan. Then, an exclusive sit-down with Obama campaign re-election strategist and former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. And later, an all-star roundtable with George Will, Lou Dobbs, Dee Dee Myers and Clarence Page. Tune in:

VIDEO OF THE DAY: POLITICALLY FOUL. This week, ABC's John Berman points out the truly foul on the political playing field - from President Obama talking about body odor in locker rooms, to Newt Gingrich's extra wide grin while sharing his Valentine's plans, to Mitt Romney's call-out to old girlfriends in Michigan. WATCH:



DEBATE DOMINO EFFECT. Yesterday, Mitt Romney bowed out the March 1 Republican presidential debate in Georgia citing scheduling conflicts. Romney's move was followed by Ron Paul, and by the end of the day the CNN issued a statement cancelling the long-planned event entirely.  "Mitt Romney and Ron Paul told the Georgia Republican Party, Ohio Republican Party and CNN Thursday that they will not participate in the March 1 Republican presidential primary debate," CNN said in a statement. "Without full participation of all four candidates, CNN will not move forward with the Super Tuesday debate. However, next week, CNN and the Arizona Republican Party will host all four leading contenders for the GOP nomination. That debate will be held in Mesa, Arizona on February 22 and will be moderated by CNN's John King."

OBAMA HECKLED IN SAN FRANCISCO. After a day of hobnobbing with dozens of his wealthiest patrons, President Obama took his case for a second term before a boisterous crowd of 2,900 low-dollar donors who filled the Nob Hill Masonic Center here for a concert and speech, ABC's Devin Dwyer reports from the City By the Bay. "I'm here not just because I need your help, San Francisco," Obama told the raucous crowd that had peppered him with shouts of affection from the moment he took the stage. "I'm here because this country needs your help." "We love you," someone later shouted from the balcony. "I've told you I love you already," Obama said with a characteristic grin and a chuckle, drawing laughter from the crowd. But the reception wasn't entirely warm. Obama was interrupted twice by critics of his policies who raised their voices and rushed toward the stage before they were removed. As Obama hailed the end of the Iraq war and efforts to "focus on the terrorists" in Afghanistan, one woman stood and shouted repeatedly, "stop the killing of innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

RICK SANTORUM, ANN ROMNEY CROSS PATHS IN MICHIGAN. Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are not known to agree, at least not recently, as they are waging an all out battle to win the Michigan primary, but this evening it was Santorum and Ann Romney who both spoke of a common family trait: their coalmining grandfathers, ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports. "My grandfather never saw the sun for six days a week, and it was on Sunday when they spent a lot of time in church that he saw the sun," Ann Romney said of her Welsh grandfather. "I think of that and I think of the heritage that I come from and how my grandfather made the sacrifice to bring his family to this country for hope and opportunity and how blessed we all are for those ancestors who sacrificed and made those decisions to come to the land of freedom, and how much of an obligation we do have to remember them and to continue to fight to keep this country the hope of the earth." Ann Romney and her husband grew up here, but Santorum is now tied or leading him in recent polls in the state. Mitt Romney is touting his hometown roots while Santorum is pushing his blue collar background and a populist message. Both Santorum and Ann Romney began their speeches at the Oakland Park Lincoln Day Dinner here talking about how the hard work of their grandfathers has shaped their lives.

ROMNEY CAMPAIGN JETTISONS PROMINENT SURROGATE. "Mitt Romney's presidential campaign distanced itself on Thursday from Representative Michael G. Grimm of Staten Island, a charismatic freshman Republican who has stumped for Mr. Romney but is now facing scrutiny over his business dealings and campaign fund-raising," reports The New York Times' Anne Barnard. "Mr. Grimm acted as a surrogate for Mr. Romney during the primary in New Hampshire, and was one of Mr. Romney's most prominent defenders after he was criticized for saying he likes 'being able to fire people who provide services to me.' But on Thursday, a spokeswoman for Mr. Romney's national campaign, Andrea Saul, indicated that Mr. Grimm would no longer play such a role in the campaign. Ms. Saul declined to provide a reason, but the move came on the same day that The New York Times published an article detailing how Mr. Grimm had engaged in questionable business practices involving his real estate and restaurant ventures."

RON PAUL EYES A WIN IN WASHINGTON STATE CAUCUSES. ABC's Jason Volack reports that Ron Paul told that he has "a very good chance" of winning Washington's March 3 precinct caucuses.  Will it be his first victory of the 2012 Republican presidential season?  "We have to see whether some of the caucuses already held, we've won," he replied.  Paul was referring to last weekend's Republican caucuses in Maine. The campaign in a press release said that Paul's King County Rally at Sea Tac drew over 1,800 voters.  Paul's second stop on Thursday in Vancouver, Washington drew more than 1,000 people inside the Hilton Hotel downtown. KATU reports the fire marshal had to turn away several hundred people. However the station also noted that a noticeable amount of people also came from neighboring Oregon.

NOTED: The New York Times writes about the friendly relationship shared by Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. The relationship between the two men is rooted partly in the fact that they are veterans of the 2008 nominating fight. And that has translated into growing bonds between their families after dozens of debates, primaries and caucuses. Jesse Benton also said the campaign was on track to collect more than $10 million in the first quarter of 2012, in daily amounts of $30,000 to $50,000 augmented by occasional "money bombs." That is less than the $13 million raised in the fourth quarter but more than the $8 million in the third quarter.

WHY NEWT SPENT THE WEEK IN THE GOLDEN STATE. When Newt Gingrich announced he would be spending the majority of the week in California it was assumed the candidate, who is low on funds, was heading west to collect money, ABC's Elicia Dover notes.  While Gingrich's California political director said fundraising this week likely pushed the campaign to its $2 million goal in the state since the beginning of the campaign, there is another strategy is in the works to rack up votes as the state awards proportional delegates for the first time. The California Republican primary isn't until June 5, but Michael Schroeder, Gingrich's state political director, said if by Super Tuesday the race is still a three or four man split, California could suddenly come into play. Gingrich has long said he's in the race until the convention, even saying Thursday his goal was "to go to Tampa." California awards 172 delegates, and was a winner-take-all state in previous Republican presidential primary elections. This election cycle the state will award proportional delegates for the first time, and delegates are bound based on a win in one of the 53 congressional districts. "If you win a couple of congressional districts, you get can get as many as you would have gotten in New Hampshire just out of two congressional delegates," Schroeder said. "So everything's going to change in terms of how California's campaigned to. We'll be campaigned to like we're several different states."


@AmbassadorRice : Heartbroken by the loss of the NYT's Anthony Shadid in Syria. One of the world's bravest and best journalists.

@nytimes : Highlights of Anthony Shadid's video reporting from around the Middle East

@ezraklein : I have no words for Anthony Shadid's death. But here are some of the words from his life:

@nytjim : Anthony Shadid's final piece for the Times, on the chaos in Libya:

@DavidCornDC : Our recent interview with Anthony Shadid, in which he describes why he took the risk of sneaking into Syria:…

@USAmbNATO : Deeply saddened by the sudden death of Anthony  #Shadid, a brilliant journalist who brought turmoil in  #Arab world to life on the page. RIP



- Mitt Romney brings his campaign to Boise, Idaho taking a tour of Guerdon Enterprises. Following the tour, Romney will hold a grassroots rally at the Boise company. Ann Romney will campaign for her husband in Flint, Michigan speaking at a Republican Party Breakfast.

-Rick Santorum starts his day in Shelby Township, Michigan for a "Road to Victory" rally. Santorum will then head to Ohio for two speeches in Mason and Georgetown.

-Newt Gingrich is on the trail in Peachtree City, Georgia for an evening rally in the Falcon Field Hangar.

-Ron Paul is in Washington State for a town hall meeting in Richland and an evening campaign rally in Spokane. Paul will also host a campaign rally in Moscow, Idaho.

-ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)


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