Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Michigan today

A day of reckoning for the so-called front-runner.

On the eve of the unlikeliest showdown of a dumbfounding campaign year, the bitter Republican primary battle in Michigan has turned into an all-out class war.

Rick Santorum, flaunting the fieriest populism in years by a Republican presidential contender, is waging a determined challenge against Mitt Romney, heir to a Michigan political dynasty. Romney had once been expected to cruise to victory in the state his father governed, and that he won four years ago.

But Santorum was aiming for an upset that, as he says, would “shock” the Republican world. In the first industrial-state primary of 2012, he has cast himself as a fighter for working men and women against the “elites in society who think that they can manage your life better than you can.”

Ah, fiery is a good word to describe how things might end for Rmoney.

The class competition played out visibly Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, which was to have opened NASCAR’s season until rain forced a postponement.

Romney flew to Florida from Michigan and put on a public display of affinity, strolling the NASCAR pits in a bright red Daytona 500 jacket and blue jeans. At one point, he walked past a car emblazoned with Santorum’s campaign logo. (Out of public view, Romney also had a private breakfast with the billionaire founders of the auto racing operation and was introduced at a meeting of racing teams, corporate sponsors and celebrities.)

Yeah, the NASCAR thing turned out well.

And with Operation Hilarity adopted by the Frothy Mixture campaign and put into full effect, tonight's results will make for lively discussion among the talking heads.

As the GOP primary race comes down to the wire in Michigan, Rick Santorum’s campaign has a last trick up its sleeve.

The campaign has launched telephone robocalls throughout the state slamming rival Mitt Romney for opposing the auto industry bailout in late 2008 and early 2009, and urging Democrats to show up for Tuesday’s Republican primary and cast ballots for Santorum.

“Michigan Democrats can vote in the Republican primary on Tuesday. Why is it so important?” the voice on the call says. “Romney supported the bailouts for his Wall Street, billionaire buddies, but opposed the auto bailouts. That was a slap in the face to every Michigan worker, and we’re not going to let Romney get away with it.”

The call urges listeners to “send a loud message” to Romney by voting for Santorum, even though Santorum, too, opposed the auto industry bailout. It ends with the line: “This call is supported by hard-working Democratic men and women and paid for by Rick Santorum for president.”

Tune in to your favorite news channel this evening for all the fiery details.

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