Mitt Romney announced his 2008 campaign at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., standing before an imposing hulk of American-made steel and innovation.
On Friday, he was back in Michigan, this time in Detroit before a long stretch of artificial turf and flanked by empty stands. He trotted out tax proposals he’d outlined before, and commented wryly on the incongruous venue for an undersized crowd.
And he talked about his family’s cars, a nice Michigan story but not of a piece with the Mitt-as-common-man theme that’s been pushed in the spontaneously snapped photos of the candidate dining on Subway products.
When candidates speak in football stadiums, they’d better be going big—a convention speech, say—and even then they’ll face criticism for buying into their own grandiosity. Coming up short, and scattering a few off-message comments in there, was not the way Romney wanted to sustain the momentum he’s only recently regained.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Mitt Romney’s Ford Field Fumble?
[ABC News, 2/24/12] After weeks of focusing primarily on social issues, Mitt Romney brought the discussion back to the economy with his speech to the Detroit Economic Club, delivered at Ford Field. Unfortunately for the Romney camp, they had to make the crowd of 1,200 look like it filled up the 65,000-seat stadium. But what might be the biggest takeaway from his speech? The Romneys love cars.
Detroit Speech an Example of Local Boy Made Good
[Time, 2/24/12] The national media might have missed it, but Romney’s speech had a home-state flavor tailor-made for next week’s primary, Mark Halperin writes.
Specter Denies Santorum Debate Claim
[National Journal, 2/24/12] Former Sen. Arlen Specter on Friday refuted Rick Santorum’s debate-night claim that he received the candidate’s endorsement in 2004 by promising his support for upcoming judicial nominees. Specter said the two former Pennsylvania senators had an excellent relationship when they served together, but no such deal was made.
The Devil and Rick Santorum
[National Review, 2/24/12] The editors of the conservative magazine fault Santorum for some of his comments on faith and religion. “Some of his comments are indefensible,” they write, taking note of his comments on contraception and his judgment on mainline Protestantism.
Arizona Republic Endorses Romney
[Arizona Republic, 2/24/12] The newspaper endorsed Romney in its Friday edition, calling him “right for these times” and applauding his work at Bain Capital and as governor of Massachusetts. But the board did take issue with his opposition to the DREAM Act and his tough stance on immigration.
Long, Damaging Primary Has GOP Considering Changes to Its Rules
[The Hill, 2/24/12] Republican leaders are weighing a change to the party’s presidential primary rules amid fears that this year’s drawn-out fight has hurt the party.
Why a Romney Win in Michigan Could Be a Hollow Victory
[National Journal, 2/24/12] Who will win the GOP primaries in Michigan and Arizona? Watch The Atlantic's Molly Ball and National Journal's Major Garrett disagree on Romney's chances.
Lessons From a Mother’s Losing Run
[New York Times, 2/23/12] Romney often refers to his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, in his campaign. Less often-heard is the story of the candidate’s mother, Lenore, who ran for a U.S. Senate seat. The Times concludes that in style, temperament, and outlook, Romney is very much his mother’s son.
Romney Taps Bush Hands to Shape Economic Policies
[Wall Street Journal, 2/24/12] Romney is tapping experts in the moderate camp of GOP economics to help him craft a meatier campaign message, including two former chairmen of George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers.
Santorum Winning Support From GOP Women
[Washington Post, 2/23/12] A new poll shows that Santorum has grown more popular among GOP women in the past few weeks, even while talking about controversial social issues like his opposition to abortion and his disapproval of birth control.
Romney Turn-the-Tables Strategy Could Turn on Him for the Fall
[National Journal, 2/24/12] The most consistent note in Romney’s campaign attacks his rivals for their ideological inconsistency—and so far, it seems to be working. But lately Romney has grown more willing to accept risk in the fall in order to weaken his primary opponents today, National Journal’s Ronald Brownstein writes.
Romney: 'I Would Have Never Allowed the Auto Industry to Disappear'
[Detroit News, 2/24/12] In a sit-down with The Detroit News’ editorial board, Romney did some damage control, explaining that he believes private money would have been available to the automakers if the U.S. had made loan guarantees. But on Friday, former Obama car czar Steven Rattner went after the candidate for his stance on the bailout in a New York Times op-ed.
Santorum’s Greatest Sin: Endorsing Specter
[Washington Post, 2/24/12] Santorum's 18-point loss in 2006 has been a black mark on his campaign from the start, but his 2004 endorsement of Specter may be what costs him the GOP nomination.
Ron Paul’s Other Son
[Washington Post, 2/24/12] Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has already been out stumping for his dad. Now Ronnie Paul is off to do the same. And he’s doing it in Hawaii, reports the Post.
Pro-Romney Super PAC Says Ad Is Legal
[National Journal, 2/23/12] A watchdog group is accusing the super PAC supporting Romney of improperly airing an ad originally created by Romney’s campaign for president in 2007.
Editorial: Donors With Agendas
[New York Times, 2/23/12] Many of the multimillionaires writing outsize checks to GOP campaigns are involved in businesses or ideological causes that have clear policy agendas with the federal government, demonstrating the potential for corruption inherent in the super PAC era.
The Two Sides of Rick Santorum
[Los Angeles Times, 2/23/12] The Republican presidential candidate portrays himself as an outsider taking on the establishment—but the record shows he played a good inside game during his 16 years in Congress.