As he watched last week's Republican debate from his apartment in University of Michigan's married student housing, Derek Osborne could hardly contain his disgust every time Rick Santorum came on TV."He represents a part of the Republican party that drives me absolutely crazy," he seethed.Osborne, a Ph.D candidate, is a Mitt Romney supporter. He's also a moderate Republican who is alarmed at what he sees as the anti-intellectual fervor"”and undeniable political power"”of the Tea Party movement. As the latest candidate to emerge as...
The presidential campaign of Rick Santorum is fuming over a decision by Michigan's Republican Party to give both the state's at-large delegates to state-wide winner Mitt Romney. Earlier guidance from the state party suggested that the two delegates would be allocated proportionally.
The tussle over every last delegate in the GOP nomination battle could get ugly, if what happened in Michigan is any indicator. The Credentials Committee of the Michigan Republican Party apparently reversed course on a stated delegate selection formula, turning a delegate tie into a Mitt Romney win.
WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney got two important wins in the Arizona and Michigan primaries, but he better pick up the pace if he wants to lock up the Republican nomination for president before the party's national convention in late August.
Voters in 11 states have gone to polls and Romney has won six of them. Perhaps even more important, he has won 51 percent of the delegates at stake in those contests.
But at that pace, the former Massachusetts governor won't ever win enough delegates in the primaries and caucuses to clinch the nomination. He would need help from Republican National Committee members who automatically attend the convention and can support any candidate they choose.
Even without reaching the 1,144 delegates needed for the nomination, Romney could potentially build an insurmountable lead and become the obvious nominee. But his slim margin for error, inability to build lasting momentum and trouble connecting with the party's conservative base provide incentives for the other three candidates to stay in the race.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum says it's down to a two-man race, trying to make the case that he's the candidate who can rally the anti-Romney forces within the Republican Party. Santorum has halted Romney's momentum before. After Romney posted big wins in Florida and Nevada, Santorum upended the race by sweeping the Feb. 7 caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota and nonbinding primary Missouri.
"A month ago they didn't know who we are, but they do now," Santorum said Tuesday night after narrowly losing to Romney in Michigan.
Romney and his aides repeatedly have said their campaign is built for the long haul, with more money and a more extensive organization than his rivals.
"On to the March contests," Romney said, looking ahead to voting in 10 states next week on Super Tuesday.
In race for delegates, Romney leads with 165, including endorsements from RNC members. Santorum has 85 delegates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has 32 and Texas Rep. Ron Paul has 19.
If Romney and Santorum keep winning delegates at their current pace, Romney's lead would grow to more than 240 delegates by the end of March. By the end of April, his lead would be about 320 delegates.
"What I think happens over the course of March is, one or the other candidates will build such a lead that the world recognizes that that's going to be the guy," said John Ryder, an RNC member from Tennessee who served on the panel that wrote the party's rules for awarding delegates. "There's a point at which it becomes mathematically impossible, or unlikely, for any of the other candidates to overtake the leader."
Some 2,286 delegates are slated to attend the party's national convention in Tampa, Fla.; 2,169 of them are at stake in the primaries and caucuses in each state. The RNC delegates make up the other 117. It takes a majority of the delegates, or 1,144, to win the Republican nomination for president.
So far, the vast majority of RNC members are taking a wait-and-see approach. Romney has endorsements from 18 of them, Gingrich has three and Santorum and Paul have one apiece, according to a survey by The Associated Press.
On Tuesday, Romney picked up 29 delegates in Arizona's winner-take-all primary. In Michigan, he won the statewide vote but he and Santorum were on pace to roughly split the state's 30 delegates because Michigan awarded most of its delegates based on results in individual congressional districts.
Several factors are helping turn the race into a long march. Nearly every state uses some sort of a proportional system to award delegates, so even losing candidates can win a significant number. As long as at least three candidates stay in the race, it will be difficult for one candidate – even a successful one – to win much more than half the delegates.
In 2008, 13 states awarded all of their delegates to the statewide winner. This year, only seven states plan to award their delegates winner-take-all, if Idaho is included, with its unique caucus system that the state GOP says will probably result in all of its delegates going to one candidate.
The calendar is also back-loaded, with five primaries scheduled for June 5, including contests in delegate-rich California and New Jersey. Eight primaries are scheduled for May – nine, if Texas eventually lands in May after resolving its redistricting dispute.
As the race evolves into a hunt for delegates, all the Republican candidates should focus on winning delegates even in states where they will lose the statewide vote, said Jeff Berman, who ran President Barack Obama's delegate operation in 2008. That means targeting friendly congressional districts in some states and local caucuses in others, much like Obama did in his primary battle against Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"With most states adopting some form of proportional allocation of delegates for 2012, the candidates will have to treat this race more like the Democratic contest of 2008, when Obama hunted delegates one by one to build and maintain his narrow delegate lead," said Berman, who recently wrote a book about Obama's 2008 campaign, titled "The Magic Number."
Next week's Super Tuesday contests could go a long way toward defining the rest of the race. A total of 419 delegates are at stake in the 10 states – more than a third of the delegates needed to win the nomination.
The Super Tuesday contests, however, illustrate the difficulty of amassing large numbers of delegates.
Even if Romney has a fantastic Super Tuesday, winning seven of the 10 states and coming in a strong second in Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma, he could get only about 60 percent of the delegates, according to an AP analysis.
A day like that could knock one of the other candidates out of the race. But if it doesn't, it would only slightly improve Romney's delegate math.
Instead of a delegate fight at the convention, Romney would be on pace to clinch the nomination with a victory in the last primary of the season – Utah, on June 26.
WASHINGTON -- It's a leap year, which means Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum will have to live one more day in February 2012, a month they'd both like to forget.
The two presidential candidates battled each other every day for most of the month. And while they beat up on each other plenty, the month may be best remembered for how it turned into a contest of who could punch themselves in the face more often.
For former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, the miscues were behavioral, springing out of an inability to connect with voters. For former Sen. Santorum (R-Pa.) they were rhetorical, coming from a habit of talking about his deeply held beliefs in controversial and provocative language.
Romney said things that reinforced his image as an awkward person who is so wealthy that he cannot relate to everyday folk -- and cannot generate enthusiasm within his own party as a result.
Santorum said things that sometimes excited the GOP base, but that either confused, misled or angered a wider audience. Some of his comments touched on issues worthy of debate, such as how to interpret the First Amendment. But he erred by saying things in an unhelpful and needlessly hyperbolic way. The Wall Street Journal's editorial board on Wednesday deemed it a lack of "political maturity."
The remarkable thing in February was how Romney and Santorum alternated screwups as if they were in a bizarre boxing match. One could not let a verbal gaffe by the other go without responding in kind. Not all of the flare ups were their fault or within their control. But all together, it created quite a spectacle that damaged both candidates.
On Feb. 8, one day after his huge wins in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri, Santorum launched a salvo against President Obama on the issue of religion, claiming that the White House is "taking faith and crushing it."
Two days later, on Feb. 10, Romney told the Conservative Political Action Conference that he was "severely conservative," a term that was not in his prepared remarks.
But that same day, Santorum said on CNN that he had misgivings about women in "frontline combat positions" because of "emotions that are involved."
On Feb. 12, Santorum's appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" generated headlines about past comments that he considers contraception "not okay." Even though Santorum said on the show Sunday that he would not ban contraception as president and that he was not focusing his campaign on social issues, that was what drew the most attention.
But on Feb. 16, Romney's goofiness showed up again, when he talked about how the trees in Michigan were "the right height." The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees immediately turned the video into an ad comparing Romney to a character in the movie "Anchorman."
Santorum struck back again two days later on Feb. 18, charging that Obama's Christian faith was based on a "phony theology." And then three days later, one week out from the Arizona and Michigan primaries, The Drudge Report dredged up comments by Santorum from 2008 about how "Satan has his sights on the United States of America."
Romney was not about to let Santorum end things there. Three days after the Satan story came to light, Romney went to Ford Field in downtown Detroit on Feb. 24, to deliver a speech on tax reform that contained few new details. He said his wife drives "a few Cadillacs." And the speech itself was overshadowed by press coverage that, fair or not, focused on the image of thousands of empty seats in the stadium surrounding Romney as he spoke to 1,000 or so folks on the football field.
The frequency with which Romney and Santorum tripped themselves up increased as they got closer to the primary on Tuesday. On Saturday, Feb. 25, Santorum responded to Romney's Ford Field fiasco by calling the president a "snob" for saying that most Americans should go to college.
The next morning, Romney went to the Daytona 500 and told reporters he didn't know much about NASCAR but did have "some great friends who are NASCAR team owners."
Around the same time, Santorum was on ABC's "This Week," doubling down on comments he made last fall that he wanted to "throw up" when he read President John F. Kennedy's 1960 speech on the separation of church and state.
The two candidates spent primary day on Tuesday cleaning up after themselves. Romney admitted he was hurting himself with his comments and pledged to do better, and Santorum said he wished he had not made the comment about throwing up.
But the month was a case study in why the Republican party is less than thrilled about its prospects for defeating the incumbent president in November. Its candidates are generally in line with each other on major policy issues, but keep getting in the way of their own messages.
By KASIE HUNT, The Associated Press
TOLEDO, Ohio -- Mitt Romney is trying to capitalize on twin victories in Arizona and Michigan as the GOP nomination race expands to the 10 states that vote on Super Tuesday. Rival Rick Santorum, who narrowly lost in Michigan, faces splitting the conservative vote with Newt Gingrich as the former House speaker counts on Southern primaries to revive his campaign.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul remains a factor as he attempts to mine delegates in caucus states like North Dakota, where his campaign team says the process plays to his strengths.
Super Tuesday is March 6, just three days after Saturday's Washington state caucuses.
Romney's slim victory â 41 percent to Santorum's 38 percent â in his native Michigan raised questions about whether he would change his strategy. He acknowledged Tuesday that he had made personal mistakes in recent weeks and said he was trying to "do better and work harder."
All four candidates face financial strains as they try to advertise in a series of expensive states to campaign. It would cost about $5 million to run a week's worth of heavy ads across all the states that vote on Super Tuesday.
Romney signaled Tuesday night that he intends to stick to his core campaign message of fixing the economy and reducing unemployment in a nation still recovering from the worst recession in decades.
"More jobs, less debt and smaller government â you're going to hear that" over and over in the states ahead, he said.
Romney scored a hard-won, home-state triumph in Michigan and powered to victory in Arizona, gaining precious momentum over Santorum in the most turbulent Republican presidential race in a generation.
"We didn't win by a lot, but we won by enough," Romney told cheering supporters in Michigan. He also tweeted his delight â and his determination: "I take great pride in my Michigan roots, and am humbled to have received so much support here these past few weeks."
The Super Tuesday races could go a long way toward determining which Republican will take on Democratic President Barack Obama this fall.
Romney will campaign Wednesday in Ohio before he flies to North Dakota. Santorum was already campaigning in Ohio when the verdict came in from Michigan.
"A month ago they didn't know who we are, but they do now," Santorum told his supporters, vowing to stay the conservative course he has set.
Gingrich and Paul made little effort in Michigan or Arizona, pointing instead to next week's collection of contests in all corners of the country.
Gingrich is campaigning Wednesday in Georgia, the state he represented in the House for 20 years. Contests there and in Tennessee give him an opportunity to breathe some life back into his bid. He won in South Carolina but struggled in Florida.
Romney's Arizona triumph came in a race that was scarcely contested, and he pocketed all of the 29 Republican National Convention delegates at stake in the winner-take-all state. He had a much healthier margin of victory in Arizona, 47 percent to Santorum's 27 percent.
Michigan's primary was as different as it could be â a hard-fought and expensive contest that native-son Romney could ill afford to lose and Santorum made every effort to win.
In Michigan, 30 delegates were apportioned according to the popular vote. Two were set aside for the winner of each of the state's 14 congressional districts. The remaining two delegates were likely to be divided between the top finishers in the statewide vote.
With his victory in Arizona, Romney had 163 delegates, according to the Associated Press count, compared with 83 for Santorum, 32 for Gingrich and 19 for Paul. It takes 1,144 to win the nomination at the convention in Tampa this summer.
The lengthening GOP nomination struggle has coincided with a rise in Obama's prospects for a new term. A survey released Tuesday shows consumer confidence at the highest level in a year, and other polls show an increase in Americans saying they believe the country is on the right track.
Along with the improving economy, the long and increasingly harsh campaign, in which Gingrich and Santorum have challenged Romney as insufficiently conservative, has prompted some GOP officials to express concern about the party's chances of defeating Obama.
If nothing else, the unexpected clash on Romney's home field dramatized that two months into the campaign season â after nearly a dozen primaries and caucuses â the GOP race to pick a nominee remains unpredictable.
Unopposed for renomination, Obama timed a campaign-style appearance before United Auto Workers Union members in Washington for the same day as the Michigan primary. Attacking Republicans, he said assertions that union members profited from a taxpayer-paid rescue of the auto industry in 2008 are a "load of you-know-what."
All the Republicans running for the White House opposed the bailout, but even in the party's Michigan primary a survey of voters leaving polling places showed about 4 in 10 supported it.
Michigan loomed as a key test for Romney as he struggled to reclaim his early standing as front-runner in the race. But Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, rolled into the state on the strength of surprising victories on Feb. 7 in caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado and a nonbinding primary in Missouri.
Santorum quickly sought to stitch together the same coalition of conservatives and tea party activists that carried him to a narrow victory in the Iowa caucuses that opened the campaign nearly two months ago.
There are 40 delegates at stake in Washington's caucuses on Saturday, followed by 419 on Super Tuesday, including big primaries in Ohio and Georgia.
The television advertising wars were already under way. Romney and Restore Our Future, the super PAC that supports him, have spent more than $3 million combined on ads in Ohio.
During the 2008 primaries, one of the first signs that early frontrunner Hillary Clinton was in trouble was when elected officials and party operatives began to shift their support from Clinton to Barack Obama. (Among several others, Congressman John Lewis, the civil-rights leader, and George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic Presidential candidate, switched sides.) So far, Rick Santorum hasn’t been able to convince many party leaders that he is a better bet than Romney. The only prominent switcher is former Ohio senator Mike DeWine. He endorsed Romney last October, saying,...
FLINT, Mich. — Republican Mitt Romney fought Saturday to prove he is the strongest challenger to President Barack Obama, an increasingly difficult task given the tight race in his native state of Michigan against surging conservative Rick Santorum.
In the final weekend of campaigning before Tuesday's Michigan and Arizona primaries, Romney focused on central and southeast Michigan's urban and industrial centers in hopes of pulling ahead of Santorum.
With a Michigan victory, Santorum could solidify his place as a real threat to Romney heading into Super Tuesday, the 10-state sweepstakes on March 6. Santorum's victories so far have come in lower-turnout party caucuses.
While Romney kept most of his attention on the Democratic incumbent, he also worked to lay doubt about the core principles of his lightly funded main GOP rival.
Romney is the one facing stubborn doubts from some conservatives for his changed positions on social issues, but he tried to portray Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, as a Washington insider with cracks in his own conservative credentials. Santorum called such criticism "laughable" and said Michigan, where Romney was born and raised and his father was governor, was winnable.
A crowd in Lansing heard Romney accuse Santorum of caving to party leaders on issues he opposed, including financing Planned Parenthood.
"This is not time for lifelong pols who explain why they voted for this or that based on what they were asked to do by their fellow colleagues," Romney told about 300 activists gathered for breakfast at a country club. "I will be a president of principle."
Later in Flint, he declared himself a Washington, D.C., outsider and implied Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, is an insider: "I don't have any political payoffs I have to make."
Romney tried to undermine Santorum's profile as an abortion opponent by noting Santorum's backing in 1996 of fellow Pennsylvanian Arlen Specter in the GOP presidential race. "He supported the pro-choice candidate," Romney told more than 2,000 at a forum in Troy put on by a tea party umbrella group. Santorum spoke to the group, Americans for Prosperity, earlier Saturday.
Santorum, who has portrayed himself as a loyal conservative and is popular among evangelical conservatives, ridiculed Romney's claims.
"It is absolutely laughable to have a liberal governor of Massachusetts suggest that I am not a conservative," Santorum said to cheers to the same group. "He repeatedly gets up and says all these things that he didn't do that he did do. Folks, this is an issue of trust."
The volleys over principle and loyalty punctuate the all-out two-man race in Michigan, leaving behind the two others in the field. Both candidates are spending heavily on television advertising, although the better-funded Romney was laying out more.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul is hardly a factor in Michigan but is airing advertisements criticizing Santorum, which aids Romney. Paul was campaigning in Oklahoma earlier Saturday before making a stop at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was nowhere to be found in the state and has spent scant time in Arizona, which also holds its primary Tuesday.
Gingrich has acknowledged that he has no shot in Michigan or Arizona and has predicted Romney will win. Gingrich aides argue he stands to gain by Santorum or Romney coming out of Tuesday weaker.
Gingrich is betting heavily on Georgia, the state he represented in Congress, and a strong showing in Tennessee on March 6.
On Saturday Gingrich was in California for the state GOP convention. He forecast a drawn-out campaign that would give late-voting states a voice.
"There will not be any lockdown before we get to California," which holds its primary June 5, Gingrich said.
Romney campaigned across southern central and southeast Michigan, where his family name is familiar, and he reminded audiences of his ties to the state. Romney won the GOP primary here during his unsuccessful 2008 bid for the nomination.
In Lansing, the capital, Romney recalled his father's chilly winter inaugurals. Romney's wife, Ann, also born in Michigan, reminisced in introducing the candidate in Troy about growing up a Tigers baseball fan and working for her father's business in the Detroit suburb.
Polls show a dead heat between Romney and Santorum, who is playing up his family's blue-collar background as the grandson of a Pennsylvania coal-miner. "This race is close. This race is winnable. But you've got to want it," Santorum told tea party members in St. Clair Shores.
Romney's attacks are a potential problem for Santorum because he's based his candidacy on presenting himself as an uncompromising conservative, contrasting himself with Romney. The former Massachusetts governor has struggled at times to explain why he's changed his position on abortion and other issues.
Santorum compared the health care bill Romney signed in Massachusetts in 2006 with the one Obama signed in 2010. The federal program is wildly unpopular with conservatives.
"Are you going to vote for someone that says one thing one day anything else the next day that's necessary to win? Or are you going to vote for someone you trust?" Santorum asked the crowd in Troy.
Santorum later made a quick detour to Tennessee, a Super Tuesday state that's gotten much less attention, to speak at a tea party rally in a large church in Chattanooga.
In Tennessee, Santorum rebuked Romney for backing the Wall Street bailout. He acknowledged that he and Romney opposed the auto industry bailout, and said Romney was inconsistent.
"I didn't pick and choose based on who my friends are," Santorum said to loud applause. "These are the biggest issues of this race. And we need a candidate who isn't compromised on every single one of them."
Santorum called Obama "a snob" for saying every American child should be able to go to college.
"Why does Obama want everybody to go to college? So his liberal college professors can be indoctrinating people like he has," Santorum said, drawing a long ovation.
Associated Press writer Brian Bakst in Burlingame, Calif., Charles Babington in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Tim Martin in Mount Pleasant, Mich., contributed to this report.