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Eyeing Michigan vote, Romney calls himself a 'son of Detroit'

February 14, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli
  • Mitt Romney drives through Michigan in a new campaign ad airing in the state.
Mitt Romney drives through Michigan in a new campaign ad airing in the state. (MittRomney.com )

Mitt Romney is playing the native son card in Michigan, which looms now as the next major battleground in an increasingly tight contest with Rick Santorum for the GOP nomination.

"I am a son of Detroit," Romney writes in an op-ed that ran in Tuesday's Detroit News.

Meanwhile, a new television ad features Romney driving what we presume is an American car while reminiscing about how "exciting" it was to grow up in the shadow of Motor City, and going with his father to the Detroit Auto Show.

He turns to despair as he wonders how President Obama "did all these things that liberals have wanted to do for years," and wonders how auto industry and unions left the city and state "distressed."

"I want to make Michigan stronger and better. Michigan has been my home and this is personal," the former Massachusetts governor says.

His op-ed, calling for taxpayers to benefit from sales of GM stock, is an effort by Romney to pivot from his position three years ago, when he wrote in the New York Times under the headline "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," with a Boston dateline.

Though he acknowledges the rebound of GM and Chrysler, he says Obama deserves no credit, and that what the White House bills as a successful bailout is actually "crony capitalism, Obama-style."

"While a lot of workers and investors got the short end of the stick, Obama's union allies -- and his major campaign contributors -- reaped reward upon reward, all on the taxpayer's time."

Romney says the government did in part act as he had proposed in the fall of 2008 with a "managed bankruptcy." Democrats responded by accusing Romney of trying to "rewrite history."

An early poll ahead of Michigan's Feb. 28 primary shows that Santorum has surprising strength in the state, which Romney carried in his 2008 campaign. Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Polling put Santorum up 39-24 over Romney. The poll's automated calling method is considered less reliable than traditional polling.

Santorum is also up on the Michigan airwaves with a spot calling himself "a trusted conservative who gives us the best chance to take back America."

Here are both spots:

michael.memoli@latimes.com
twitter.com/mikememoli

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