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Democratic National Committee: Romney damaged goods

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It's primary day in Michigan and Arizona and the Democratic National Committee--still focusing more on Mitt Romney than Rick Santorum--argues in a Tuesday morning memo from communications chief Brad Woodhouse that the bitter battle in Michigan has badly damaged the Romney brand and put him in bed with Tea Party Republicans. Woodhouse helpfully tells Republicans that Romney has moved so far to the right (Santorum was there already) that it will make it harder for him to appeal to swing voters in November.

From: Brad Woodhouse, Democratic National Committee

To: Interested Parties

Date: February 28, 2012

RE: Victory in Michigan, Arizona Primaries Will Come at a Cost for Mitt Romney

As Republican voters in Michigan and Arizona head to the polls for today's primaries, Mitt Romney is already declaring victory in both states - telling Chris Wallace in a Fox News Sunday interview that he's "planning on winning here in Michigan and also in Arizona," and that his Michigan win will be "huge" after "having come from so far behind."

But that's exactly the problem: having been born and raised in Michigan, where his own father served as a popular three-term governor and where Romney beat John McCain by nearly 10 percent in the 2008 GOP primary just four years ago, Romney should have had Michigan locked up from the very beginning. Yet he's struggling to win his own home state, at times falling behind Rick Santorum - who is battling Romney in trying to appeal to the far right fringe and has gone as far as criticizing the President for encouraging young Americans to pursue higher education. It's clear that regardless of what happens on Tuesday night, voters will see that for Mitt Romney - who has vastly outspent his Republican opponents and who keeps running farther to the right and alienating independent, moderate and working-class voters along the way - a win in Michigan and Arizona will come at a significant cost.


Between Mitt Romney's home state advantage in Michigan and the fact that he and his Super PAC allies have outspent Rick Santorum and his allies there nearly 2-to-1, you'd think the battle for Michigan's 30 Republican delegates would have been "no contest" from the very beginning. But that's not the case for Romney, who has recently been running neck-and-neck with Rick Santorum in Michigan.

That's because Mitt Romney has badly damaged himself with the working and middle-class voters who make up Michigan's electorate. They still remember that just a few years ago, Romney argued that we should "let Detroit go bankrupt" - if Mitt Romney had gotten his way, GM's & Chrysler's doors would be closed today and the American auto industry would likely no longer exist. Both Michigan's and the U.S. economy would have been devastated. But thankfully, President Obama did not let that happen. He took decisive action to rescue the auto industry and save more than 1.4 million American jobs it supports - now, Detroit is building the cars of the future and America's auto industry has since added more than 200,000 jobs. It's no thanks to Mitt Romney, who would have rather left the auto industry for dead - a position he shares with Rick Santorum, who has also come out strongly against the auto rescue package - and if Romney makes it to the general election, Michiganders will be quick to remind him of his betrayal.


Michigan isn't the only state where Mitt Romney has harmed his general election prospects in an effort to woo right-wing GOP primary voters. In Arizona, this week's PPP poll shows Romney with a large 17-point lead over Santorum - leading him 43% to 26%. But this advantage has come at a high cost for Mitt Romney. Not only have he and his allies outspent Santorum and his allies 12-to-1 in the state, but Romney has also confirmed he would be the most extreme nominee on immigration - far outside the mainstream of both Arizonans and the nation.

Shamelessly attempting to curry favor with Tea Party Republicans before Tuesday's primary, Mitt Romney has fully embraced Arizona's divisive and extreme anti-immigrant law - calling it a "model" for the nation, even though it lets law enforcement randomly check documents and detain people without cause. He has promised to veto the DREAM Act and dismissed it as a "handout," even though it would let young immigrants who came here as children earn a path to citizenship by going to college or serving in the military. And Romney has embraced the inhumane policy of encouraging "self-deportation," despite the fact that it would separate families who have contributed to their communities for a generation. These extreme positions are going to haunt him should he make it to November.


Mitt Romney may pick up two victories on Tuesday night, but his out-of-touch positions and pandering to the right wing are causing him to pay dearly among independent, moderate and blue-collar voters who Romney cannot afford to lose in the general election. Just look at the numbers - after losing five out of nine GOP contests, a new POLITICO/George Washington University battleground poll found that just a meager 33% of independents now view Romney positively, while 51% view him negatively. Meanwhile, Rick Santorum fares slightly better than Romney among independent voters - but a whopping 28% of them still say they have no opinion of Santorum or have never even heard of him. Once they discover that Santorum is squarely interested in issues that divide Americans - he's even called public schools outdated "factories" that should be dismantled - they're likely to go running in the other direction.

The fact is that while President Obama has been fighting to create jobs and restore basic economic security for all hardworking Americans, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum both simply want to let Wall Street write its own rules again. They don't have a single plan to help working families get ahead, and they've both proposed budget and tax plans that would explode the deficit over the next decade and force deep cuts to programs critical to middle-class security. For all his talk about balancing the budget, Romney's economic plan would actually blow a $5 trillion hole in the deficit over the next decade and give tax cuts that would mostly benefit millionaires and billionaires. So while the GOP field continues to showcase nothing but the same failed policies of the past - from one state to the next - the choice that voters have to make on November 6th gets clearer by the day.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 28, 2012 7:09 AM.

Michigan showdown: Santorum targeted Democrats with robo calls was the previous entry in this blog.

Rahm's Feb. 28, 2012 public schedule. New career classes is the next entry in this blog.

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