San­to­rum claims win de­spite loss in Michi­gan

The Washington Times Daily - - Front Page - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

TOLEDO, OHIO | Mitt Rom­ney won more votes than Rick San­to­rum in Tues­day’s Michi­gan pri­mary, but the two Re­pub­li­can front-run­ners split the del­e­gate haul down the mid­dle — 15 each — prompt­ing the San­to­rum cam­paign to de­clare vic­tory as the fo­cus shifts to next week’s Su­per Tues­day.

The San­to­rum cam­paign called the del­e­gate re­sults a blow to Mr. Rom­ney, who dra­mat­i­cally out­spent the rest of the field in a state where he was born and his fa­ther was gov­er­nor in the 1960s.

“It is not a win for Mitt Rom­ney. I don’t know how you don’t see this as a strong show­ing for Rick San­to­rum and cer­tainly some­what of a dis­as­ter for Mitt Rom­ney,” John Braben­der, a se­nior San­to­rum strate­gist, told re­porters

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in a con­fer­ence call in which he also made the case that, “if we can do this well in Rom­ney’s home state, we clearly think this bodes well for Su­per Tues­day states.”

Mr. San­to­rum lost the Michi­gan pri­mary vote by 3 per­cent­age points, but did well enough in in­di­vid­ual con­gres­sional dis­tricts to catch up in the pro­por­tional award­ing of del­e­gates — though the Rom­ney camp ar­gues the for­mer se­na­tor from Penn­syl­va­nia cheated by ap­peal­ing to Demo­cratic vot­ers to cross party lines in the open pri­mary and vote for him. That same ap­peal was made by lib­eral groups look­ing to ding the Rom­ney cam­paign ahead of an ex­pected gen­eral elec­tion show­down against Pres­i­dent Obama.

The Rom­ney cam­paign pre-emp­tively struck back be­fore the San­to­rum camp’s con­fer­ence call, is­su­ing a press re­lease high­light­ing exit polls that showed the ex-gov­er­nor hand­ily won among Re­pub­li­can vot­ers, while Mr. San­to­rum won among Democrats. It also re­leased a “Lib­eral Democrats for San­to­rum” on­line video in which self­i­den­ti­fied Michi­gan Democrats claim to have sup­ported Mr. San­to­rum in an at­tempt to pro­tect Pres­i­dent Obama from go­ing up against Mr. Rom­ney in the gen­eral elec­tion.

“Rick San­to­rum made a colos­sal mis­take by invit­ing Democrats to come into the Re­pub­li­can pri­mary in Michi­gan. It may have helped him win the Demo­crat vote, but he lost de­ci­sively among Repub­li­cans,” said Matt Rhoades, Mr. Rom­ney’s cam­paign man­ager. “If the only way Rick San­to­rum thinks he can win an elec­tion is to re­cruit Democrats to vote against Mitt Rom­ney, he needs to re-eval­u­ate why he is even in this race. Repub­li­cans should choose the nom­i­nee, not Democrats. Rick San­to­rum needs to apol­o­gize and pledge that he won’t re­sort to these dirty tac­tics on Su­per Tues­day.”

Team Rom­ney fol­lowed up with a con­fer­ence call later in the day in which John H. Su­nunu, a top Rom­ney sur­ro­gate and for­mer New Hamp­shire gov­er­nor, de­liv­ered some of the stiffest crit­i­cism of the day, telling re­porters that Mr. San­to­rum’s ap­peal to Michi­gan Democrats “makes me feel like throw­ing up.”

The po­lit­i­cal spin comes as the GOP pres­i­den­tial field, which also in­cludes for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich of Ge­or­gia and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, pre­pared for the 10 con­tests sched­uled for Tues­day, when 36 per­cent of all the del­e­gates to the na­tional con­ven­tion will be up for grabs.

To win the nom­i­na­tion, a can­di­date must cap­ture 1,144 del­e­gates to the na­tional con­ven­tion this sum­mer in Tampa, Fla., where the party’s nom­i­nee will be of­fi­cially tapped.

Mr. Rom­ney’s two-state sweep helped him pad his lead in the del­e­gate hunt and pro­vided him with some ad­di­tional brag­ging rights at a cou­ple of cam­paign stops Wed­nes­day in Ohio, where 66 del­e­gates will be up for grabs next week, mak­ing it one of the big­gest prizes among the 10 states that will hold their con­tests.

“It was a big night, last night for me, I was pleased,” Mr. Rom­ney told a small crowd gath­ered in­side the Univer­sal Met­als LLC ware­house. “Peo­ple who said that the econ­omy and jobs were the No. 1 is­sue, they voted for me over­whelm­ingly.”

Stand­ing on a stage in front of mas­sive steel coils used to make posts, Mr. Rom­ney stuck to the ba­sic stump speech he honed on the cam­paign trail in Michi­gan, crit­i­ciz­ing what he sees as Mr. Obama’s fail­ure to re­duce na­tional spend­ing, shrink the size of gov­ern­ment and get peo­ple back to work.

He also tried to dis­tance him­self from his three GOP ri­vals by con­trast­ing the 25 years he spent in the busi­ness world against the long po­lit­i­cal ca­reers of the other Repub­li­cans in the race.

“Do you want some­one who spent his life in the pri­vate sec­tor, who un­der­stands where jobs come from, or do you want some­one who spent his ca­reer in Washington?” he said. “There are a cou­ple of guys who spent their en­tire ca­reer in Washington, you can vote for them. I just don’t think we are go­ing to beat Barack Obama and get our coun­try back on track if we have guys whose re­sumes look like his re­sume.”

Mr. San­to­rum, mean­while, claimed a moral vic­tory in com­ing so close in Michi­gan.

“We just gave Mitt Rom­ney the fight of his life in his home state and now we are in for a long, im­por­tant bat­tle to the con­ven­tion,” Mr. San­to­rum said in a fundrais­ing email to sup­port­ers in which he re­minded vot­ers that he will need to raise lots of money to com­pete in the 10 states that vote in six days. “We had a great fight in Michi­gan, but we can’t let up. Now is the time. Let’s do what Amer­i­cans al­ways do when faced with a chal­lenge — we fight.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

South Kore­ans wear­ing tra­di­tional cos­tumes carry torches dur­ing a cer­e­mony Wed­nes­day to cel­e­brate In­de­pen­dence Move­ment Day, the an­niver­sary of the 1919 up­ris­ing against Ja­panese colo­nial rule, in Cheo­nan, south of Seoul.

A sup­porter’s re­flec­tion and the im­age of for­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney are seen on the screen of his ipad as he pho­to­graphs Mr. Rom­ney greet­ing sup­port­ers at Amer­i­can Posts in Toledo, Ohio, on Wed­nes­day.

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