When Mike DeWine sat down with himself to think about ways he could influence the 2012 presidential campaign, “embarrassing Mitt Romney” may have come up.
And, lo, DeWine resisted for many months. After Tim Pawlenty hung them up in August, DeWine--a former Republican senator and current state attorney general from Ohio--made the logic-based move to Romney, and bided the months until today, when he conferred his official buss on his now third horse, former Senate colleague Rick Santorum
DeWine’s shift, doughtily coming as Santorum has taken a lead in Ohio polls, brought quick aspersions from the Romney camp, which wondered publicly about the worth of a DeWine endorsement. Sure, he's a big Ohio name, but what’s the organization like? went the Romney push-back.
The larger danger for Romney is if the sizable bloc of his supporters discontent with either him or his campaign view DeWine as a prison-break pioneer, a green light to flee the embattled front-runner and embrace the one for whom they’ve been waiting.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Santorum, Super PAC Double Down On Michigan
[National Journal, 2/17/12] Hotline editor Reid Wilson reports that the Santorum campaign is preparing for an ad buy in Michigan to respond to ads from Romney and his super PAC. The camp will spend $426,000 on cable television ads this week, in addition to $416,000 in broadcast ads next week. Furthermore, the pro-Santorum Red, White and Blue super PAC is spending $671,000 in TV ads this week.
Santorum Endorsed by Former Romney Backer Mike DeWine of Ohio
[National Journal, 2/17/12] Santorum picked up as endorsement on Friday from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who had earlier endorsed Mitt Romney, and before that Tim Pawlenty. The Ohio primary is one of the big prizes on Super Tuesday, March 6.
Gingrich to Get Another $10 Million from Casino Backer
[CBS News, 2/17/12] Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson will give an additional $10 million to the pro-Gingrich super PAC, Winning Our Future. Adelson’s family has already donated $11 million to the super PAC--basically keeping Gingrich’s presidential campaign afloat. The next donation will take place within days.
Obama Campaign Weighs Santorum
[Wall Street Journal, 2/17/12] President Obama’s re-election campaign has stepped up its examination of Santorum’s record amid a discussion over whether to attack the former senator from Pennsylvania. Santorum is edging Romney in recent polls, prompting the president's campaign to consider shifting its narrow focus from Romney.
Santorum Shifts Gear in Motown
[The Hill, 2/16/12] Santorum surprised observers by throwing only sporadic jabs at Romney in a major address on Thursday at the Detroit Economic Club. He focused instead on economic issues and highlighting his new perceived status as a front-runner. Meanwhile, Romney released an ad that literally shows a man drowning, symbolizing America's debt.
The Long Slog: Projecting the Republican Race Through June
[Sabato’s Crystal Ball, 2/16/12] Widely quoted political analyst Larry Sabato takes a detailed look at all the upcoming races (with helpful maps!) and says that, based on the data, “it is possible to conclude that Romney could be in better shape to win the nomination than he looks right now.” Of course, that all depends on whether he can win Michigan and Ohio.
Romney to Auto Industry: Glad You’re Not Dead. Really.
[National Journal, 2/16/12] The more Romney talks and writes about his stand on the 2008 and 2009 auto bailouts--stated in a New York Times op-ed headlined "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”--the more fodder he creates for critics. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder told voters to “stop dwelling” on the issue, while comedian Jon Stewart mocked Romney’s ad about growing up in Michigan.
Maine to Recount Caucus Votes After Protests From Paul Base
[The Hill, 2/16/12] Maine's Republican Party is asking for a recount of votes from last week's caucuses after reports of missing and incorrect vote totals threw Romney's narrow win over Paul into question. The state GOP chairman has admitted that the state party made numerous clerical errors in counting the results, but insisted that the errors did not change the outcome.
Five Ways Romney Can Attack Santorum (and Why They May Not Work)
[New York Times, 2/16/12] Romney's traditional strategy to bring down opponents is to attack, attack, attack. The New York Times' Michael Shear suggests five different avenues of attack Romney could take, but he cautions that none of them are foolproof.
Now Mitt’s Refusing to Debate
[Salon, 2/16/12] Steve Kornacki writes that Romney’s decision to pull out of the now-canceled CNN debate that was set to take place just a few days before Super Tuesday is a calculated risk: Skipping debates is traditionally something only an assured winner does, but Romney is not quite there yet.
Santorum’s Revisionist History
[National Journal, 2/16/12] Santorum’s fierce, blanket condemnation of “bailouts” before the Detroit Economics Club on Thursday raises questions about how well he understands the history of the 2008 financial meltdown--not to mention economics.
What's Really Behind Adelson's Backing of Gingrich? (Besides $11 Million)
[Investor's Business Daily, 2/16/12] Why would anyone spend $11 million on anything? IBD's Andrew Malcolm examines what the billionaire Newt backer is hoping to accomplish with his infusion of money.
Romney Pushes for Right-to-Work
[Detroit News, 2/17/12] As Romney pushes a labor issue that’s a favorite among conservatives, a new poll conducted by The Detroit News shows that 64 percent of Michigan Republicans support right-to-work legislation. That might sound like good news to Romney, but in the area where opposition to right-to-work is greatest among Republicans--Macomb County--Romney has his lowest support in the state.
Gingrich: I Could Lose Georgia
[National Journal, 2/16/12] After suffering a setback on Thursday when CNN canceled the one debate scheduled in Georgia before its primary, the 10-term former congressman from that state said he’s unsure he can win the Peach State.
Santorum Criticizes Press for Focusing on Backer’s ‘Joke’
[National Journal, 2/17/12] Santorum distanced himself from one of his most prominent backers, millionaire conservative Foster Friess, on Friday after the supporter’s controversial comments on contraception. "It was a bad joke, it was a stupid joke. [It's] not reflective of me or my record on this issue," Santorum said. He later told National Review that the whole flap was "crap."