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The Michigan and Arizona primaries are coming up for the GOP candidates, and Mitt Romney is counting on winning Michigan, the state he grew up in. Or is he? David Horsey questioned Romney's tactics for winning that state in his Friday post.
One more thing can’t be helping Romney in Michigan: his opposition to the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler in 2009. On Thursday, GM announced the company posted its biggest profits in history, which undermines Romney’s argument that bankruptcy would have been a better way to go for the auto companies.
Bankruptcy is good for stockholders and creditors, not so good for workers, and that leads to one more reason it’s tough for Romney to connect in Michigan: Blue-collar Republicans have a much greater affinity for Santorum, with his working-class roots and plan for boosting American manufacturing, than for the boss of Bain Capital.
In Rick Perry’s memorable phrase, Romney is a “vulture capitalist,” a guy who made his fortune by taking apart companies and putting them back together in ways that protected rich investors while putting lots of workers out on the street. If anyone is the Wall Street candidate in this election year, it is Mitt Romney.
It's hard to figure out just what Romney's overall strategy is for Michigan. It's possible that he's counting on the Tea Party and libertarian wings of the party to come around to his side because of the anti-government message that he's delivering with respect to the bailouts, but in Michigan? Home of the Big Three? A state which still has horrendous unemployment rates? I suspect there are more conservative blue collar workers than there are libertarians. There might even be more unemployed conservative blue collar workers than there are conservatives who are uncomfortable with government intrusion into the market place.
If Mitt and his staff haven't figured this out yet, he may very well lose Michigan to Santorum. And that means he may very well lose the state in November should he prevail in his quest for the nomination, as Horsey points out in his conclusion:
If Romney can’t persuade Michigan Republicans to vote for him in a primary, it will be doubly hard for him to win the state in a general election. All those autoworkers might vote for a Republican if he was standing tall for blue-collar guys the way Clint Eastwood did in that famous Super Bowl ad. But Mitt isn't Clint. Working folks are more likely to remember that Romney was the man who would have put them in the unemployment line back in 2009.
Even the party elders have to be nervous about that possibility at this point.
Labels: Election 2012