The lesson after Iowa was supposed to be “keep the boot on the throat.” Then again after South Carolina, Mitt Romney’s team said it had learned that particular element of survival.
So it’s fair for campaign supporters to ask—and they are—why Romney was so docile in last Tuesday’s elections, and then to grow less easy still as national polls on Monday showed Rick Santorum pulling into a tie, and a new one today reflecting more than half of Santorum’s voters professing strong support, stacked against less than 40 percent of Romney voters.
When will Romney make the down payment on the nomination?
Part of that answer came today, with a new ad for the Detroit market playing up Romney’s Michigan ties, an opening of the wallet in a state that won’t vote for 14 more days. Another part of the answer leans on how successful Romney is lumping Santorum in with Newt Gingrich as a Beltway denizen and, ipso facto, part of the proverbial problem.
How much Romney is willing to spend, and how hard he’s willing to go at Santorum, will tell us whether he ultimately learned the lesson he was said to last month, or another one altogether.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Poll: Santorum in Dead Heat With Romney; Gingrich Falls Back NEW!
[National Journal, 2/14/12] A new poll from CNN/ORC gives Santorum a two-point lead over Romney, with Santorum bagging 34 percent of support nationwide to Romney's 32 percent. A CBS News/New York Times poll shows the same thing, with Santorum ahead by three points, 30 percent to Romney's 27 percent.
Can Rick Santorum Become More Than ‘Not Romney’? NEW!
[Washington Post, 2/14/12] Santorum's surge may be due, in large part, to the fact that he's the only candidate left who's not Romney and who hasn't been taken down by Romney's opposition efforts. But can he expand his appeal to stand on his own two feet as a viable opponent to Obama?
Romney Plays Up Michigan Ties in Ad for Detroit Airwaves
[Detroit Free Press, 2/14/12] In an ad set to begin airing in metro Detroit on Wednesday, titled “Growing Up,” Romney shows that he plans to play up ties to his home state of Michigan—and the auto industry—leading up to the state’s Feb. 28 primary.
Romney's Home State and Front-Runner Claim Are At Stake in Michigan
[National Journal, 2/14/12] With a number of new polls out showing Santorum overtaking or slimming Romney's lead, Michigan has become more important than ever for the former Massachusetts governor. It would've been humiliating for him to lose in his own home state in the best of times, but now, his front-runner status is on the line.
Santorum Revels in Sudden Support — But How Deep? NEW!
[Associated Press, 2/14/12] He's riding on a lasting surge in momentum following his trifecta of wins last week, but Santorum's lack of cash and organization can't be painted over by cheering crowds. It remains to be seen whether he can translate his newfound popularity into continued wins.
Gingrich's Main Backer Plays Two Angles NEW!
[Wall Street Journal, 2/15/12] Sheldon Adelson, billionaire backer of Newt Gingrich, is also planning to support Romney's efforts to crush Santorum, the Wall Street Journal reports.
For Gingrich, 'Super Tuesday' Looms as Turning Point
[Reuters, 2/14/12] Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond has admitted that the campaign doesn't "have the money ... to fend off Romney," so it's shifting fundraising efforts into high-gear. But if all that effort doesn't come to fruition on March 6, it could be for naught.
Santorum Vows To Stay Positive Against Romney NEW!
[National Journal, 2/14/12] Just two days after insinuating Romney stacked the CPAC straw poll, Santorum told supporters that he's "not out there making scurrilous charges" and that Romney had been "hypocritical" when he attacked Santorum's use of earmarks.
Obama’s Revived Coalition Spells Trouble for Romney
[National Journal, 2/14/12] The national Pew Research Center poll released on Monday seems to confirm that President Obama is reassembling the coalition that powered him to his 2008 victory. If Romney wins the GOP nomination, he will still have time to reverse these perceptions, as National Journal’s Ronald Brownstein writes, but the former Massachusetts governor needs to step up his game.
Mitt Romney's Risky Pivot to Social Issues
[Politico, 2/14/12] As Santorum expands his focus to economic issues and job creation, Romney does the opposite, attempting to take some of Santorum's primacy on social issues. But this may backfire for the candidate generally regarded as a Massachusetts moderate.
Ballot Brawl: Can Santorum Get on Indiana Ballot? NEW!
[Wall Street Journal, 2/14/12] Indiana's 46 delegates could be closed off to Santorum if the eight Indiana residents who are challenging his bid to get on the ballot there are successful.
Mitt Romney: Imported From Detroit
[National Journal, 2/14/12] A new Detroit News op-ed and TV ad released in Michigan are Romney's attempts to sell himself as the true son of a state better suited to Rick Santorum's blue-collar appeal.
Romney Surrogate Attacks Santorum for Voting the Same Way He Did NEW!
[The Weekly Standard, 2/14/12] Whoops — former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent slammed Santorum's 2003 vote for Medicare Part D, but it turns out that Talent voted for it himself.
Santorum’s Glaring Gender Gap
[National Journal, 2/14/12] In his 2000 victory against then-Democratic Rep. Ron Klink, Santorum won 52 percent of the vote but dramatically underperformed with female voters—even though his opponent was a Democrat who opposed abortion. Look for this to repeat itself if Santorum emerges as the GOP nominee against Obama.
Column: Ground Is Shifting Beneath 2012
[Wall Street Journal, 2/14/12] A steadily improving economy and a sudden emergence of social issues as a prime topic could scramble the equation for both parties, Gerald Seib writes. A better economic outlook helps Obama, while the rise of social issues is a boon to Santorum.
Santorum, Taking On Michigan, Wants to Talk Jobs, Not Social Issues
[New York Times, 2/14/12] The new leader in the national polls wants to “turn the conversation away from social and cultural issues” that have been dominant in the GOP race so far and focus instead on the economy as he looks to steal a win from Mitt Romney in recession-plagued Michigan. The social conservative will address the Detroit Economic Club on Thursday.
Gingrich Brushes Aside Call to Quit, But Retools Strategy
[National Journal, 2/13/12] In spite of conservative magazine National Review's call for him to drop out of the race, Gingrich insisted on Monday that he's in it for the long haul.
Exclusive: The 30 Most Interesting Documents From the Newt Archives
[BuzzFeed, 2/14/12] BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski dug up quite a research dump on Newt Gingrich, filled with tidbits ranging from Gingrich's support for tax increases to his early campaign literature.
Why Super PACs Are Good for Democracy NEW!
[Slate, 2/13/12] Slate's Dave Weigel makes the case that not only do super PACs level the field for less-wealthy candidates (yes, even in a field of Gingriches and Romneys, there are degrees of wealth), but they also may be more transparent than regular candidate-affiliated PACs.
Rick Santorum’s Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
[ABC News, 2/14/12] Why was Rick Santorum called a "world-class hypocrite" over his 1999 suit against his wife's chiropractor?
Romney: Taxpayers Should Get GM Shares' Proceeds
[Detroit News, 2/14/12] In a Detroit News op-ed, Mitt Romney defended his 2008 argument that American automakers should have been allowed to go bankrupt.
Maine GOP: Romney Win Will Stand for Now
[Associated Press, 2/14/12] Republican leaders in Maine say Mitt Romney’s narrow win over Rep. Ron Paul of Texas will stand at least until March 10, when the state committee takes up the matter. Paul supporters had complained that one county in the eastern part of the state may have cost him a victory by postponing their caucus until this Saturday due to snow.
Pressure Mounts for Maine Caucus Reconsideration
[Bangor Daily News, 2/14/12] It looks like the results in Maine are being cast into further question, as a review of town-by-town results by the state’s GOP suggests that some communities that caucused prior to Feb. 11 were not counted. It remains unlikely that Ron Paul could overcome Romey’s 194-vote win; earlier, Paul’s campaign cried foul when one county rescheduled its caucus for this Saturday due to snow.
GOP Candidates' Valentines' Day Plans
[The Atlantic, 2/14/12] Though Obama had some Valentine's advice for men today ("Do not forget" and "go big," he said), most of the GOP candidates don't have plans--at least not ones they've shared with the public. Gingrich is the lone exception: He planned to make Callista "quite happy."