In an example of winning by not losing, Mitt Romney staved off electoral hell tonight, remaining instead in electoral purgatory, having struggled through an ugly primary in his home state for a narrow-but-fortifying victory.
Losing Michigan would not have stripped Romney of the heavy infrastructural advantages he has enjoyed throughout the campaign, nor would it have vaulted Rick Santorum into the front-runner position. But it would’ve further doused Romney's inevitability and forced him to tend more aggressively to the challengers on his right, the 9th circle of a general-election inferno.
Instead, after posting a huge and unsurprising win in Arizona, Romney took the stage and told Michiganders he was something of a comeback kid. A week ago, Romney overstated in Tuesday night's victory speech, “The pundits and the pollsters, they were ready to count us out.”
Super Tuesday is unlikely to provide the coronation moment Romney has long sought, with trouble spots in Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee. But Michigan, like New Hampshire and Florida, was a must-win for Romney and, once again, he delivered.
MICHIGAN AND ARIZONA PRIMARIES
Romney Wins Michigan in Home-State Cliffhanger
[National Journal, 2/28/12] Mitt Romney was worried he might not win it in Michigan — worried enough, in fact, that he played down expectations of his performance in the hours before the polls closed. But he'll worry no longer, as he managed to take his home state in tonight's primary.
Romney Wins Arizona Primary
[National Journal, 2/28/12] As foretold by many polls in the past week, Romney won Arizona and the state's 29 delegates tonight.
Michigan and Arizona: Bruising GOP Primaries Brighten Obama’s Prospects
[National Journal, 2/28/12] There's no clear outcome for the GOP race coming out of tonight's primaries, and there likely won't be one until after Super Tuesday. But National Journal's Major Garrett writes that what is clear is the benefit that this feisty primary season is offering President Obama's re-election prospects.
Santorum Praises the Professional Women in His Family in Concession Speech
[National Journal, 2/28/12] Perhaps seeking to stem concerns that he takes positions that alienate female voters, Santorum touted the influence of professional women in his life during his concession speech in Michigan tonight.
Michigan, Arizona Voters Differed, But Had Similar Goals for Winner
[National Journal, 2/28/12] Voters in Michigan were more moderate than those in Arizona, but voters in both states that voted tonight said that they were looking for a true conservative in the GOP race.
Romney Wins Ugly in Michigan
[National Journal, 2/28/12] To win Michigan, Romney had to take hardline positions in ways that could alienate young, female and Hispanic voters in the general election.
Feisty Ron Paul Hangs in Despite Likely Poor Showing in Michigan, Arizona
[National Journal, 2/28/12] Even though his primary performance is lackluster, Ron Paul's rhetoric continues to be anything but.
Romney, Santorum Admit Mistakes as Michigan Votes in Crucial Primary
[New York Times, 2/28/12] Saying he’s “trying to do better,” Mitt Romney accepted personal blame Tuesday for a series of gaffes that have harmed his campaign in recent days. Still, Romney said he was “unwilling to light my hair on fire” to get conservative support. Meanwhile Rick Santorum said he wished he hadn’t made that “throw up” crack about John F. Kennedy’s speech regarding the separation of church and state.
Slow Death in Michigan: Why the Drawn-Out GOP Primary Is Nothing Like 2008
[Time, 2/28/12] Though it may feel a bit like the 2008 Democratic primary, which lasted until June, Joe Klein writes that this year's GOP contest is completely different. Where that contest was dynamic and fascinating, this one is a slow, long slog devoid of substance.
SUPER TUESDAY AND BEYOND
Why Can’t the GOP Race Settle Down?
[National Journal, 2/28/12] The race for the Republican presidential nomination was supposed to be over by now. But if anything, as Michigan and Arizona prepare to weigh in with their primaries Tuesday, things seem more up in the air than ever. The Atlantic’s Molly Ball examines the volatile race, and elsewhere, Talking Points Memo's Benjy Sarlin weighs in.
Huckabee Hosting 'Forum' for GOP Candidates on Saturday—Report
[National Journal, 2/28/12] It's technically not a debate, but the forum, which all but Ron Paul have agreed to attend and will be broadcast on Fox News on Saturday, sounds suspiciously like number 21.
Gingrich Looks to Super Tuesday
[National Journal, 2/28/12] Gingrich said he is concentrating on Super Tuesday to make a comeback in the Republican presidential race, with a particular focus on Tennessee, Oklahoma and his home state of Georgia. But even though he has poured more money into the Peach State than anywhere else, Georgia voters are increasingly ambivalent about their former congressman.
In Ohio, Fierce Primary Fight May Hurt GOP’s Chances for the Fall
[Washington Post, 2/28/12] A Republican has never won the presidency without winning Ohio, the Washington Post reports, and the increasingly vicious GOP primary battle for that state could negatively affect the general election outcome there.
Super PACs Keeping Weakened Candidates in the Game
[National Journal, 2/28/12] Why has this primary gone on for so long? Some of the biggest culprits behind the protracted battle are the candidates' super PACs, which are keeping candidates afloat despite their dwindling campaign warchests. But as National Journal's Alex Roarty and Naureen Khan report, super PACs can cause some problems and are incapable of solving some others.
Romney on Brokered Convention: 'Not Going to Happen'
[National Journal, 2/28/12] On Fox News today, Romney dashed the hopes of many GOP operatives when he denied the possibility of a brokered convention. Karen Tumulty at the Washington Post backs Romney up, but Real Clear Politics' Sean Trende, who's been tracking such an outcome of the primary race, argues that a brokered convention is growing ever more likely with each passing election day.
Mitt Romney Made $6,400 An Hour At Bain Capital While Creating Mountain of Low-Paying Jobs: Report
[Huffington Post, 2/28/12] Although he's touted his job-creating experience as evidence for why he'd be able to help revitalize the middle class, many of the companies that Romney helped turn around during his time at Bain, including Staples, Sports Authority and Domino's Pizza, offer low-paying jobs.
Furious George: The Rhetorical Might That Mitt Is Missing
[The Atlantic, 2/28/12] Romney would do well to take a page out of his father's book and use the substantial, stirring rhetoric in his speeches that could stir voters in support of him. However, Tom McNichol, also writing at The Atlantic, warns that George Romney's penchant for strong words led to many gaffes – a characteristic that seems to be genetic.
Rick Santorum's Mystery Donor
[Mother Jones, 2/28/12] Do you know who William Dore, Sr., is? You might want to – he gave $1 million last cycle to the Red, White and Blue Fund, the super PAC that supports Rick Santorum. Mother Jones looks into his motivations.
Santorum: The Anti-Snob
[National Review, 2/28/12] Attacking Obama as a snob makes political sense for Santorum, but GOP officials warn that he shouldn't take the anti-college rhetoric too far, for fear of alienating wide swaths of Republicans who have no problem with higher ed.
Santorum Takes Heat for ‘Snob’ Comment
[Washington Post, 2/27/12] Some GOP governors in Washington for the National Governors Association took issue with Santorum’s remark over the weekend that Obama was a “snob” for urging students to go to college. And Santorum finds an unexpected critic in Newt Gingrich, who defended Obama Tuesday.