Liveblog: Michigan (and Maybe a Little Arizona) GOP Primary

Basically, Mitt Romney has already lost Michigan.

In 2008, Mitt Romney won the GOP primary in the state where he was born—the state where his father was governor for three terms—easily. And as of last night’s polls, Mitt was losing to Santorum by a point, knowing that Rick Santorum has outperformed polls consistently in this primary.

Despite any mischief and hilarity today may bring, the key moment of this Michigan GOP Primary took place during Romney’s speech at a nearly empty Ford Field.

During the Q &A, Romney was asked if he was the GOP candidate with the best chance of beating President Obama. In a rare moment of candor, Romney said, “”I don’t think if I have the best chance, I think I have the only chance.” When he got almost no reaction from the crowd he added, “Maybe I’m overstating that a bit.” Then he added, “That’s my family leading the applause.” No applause was audible.

It was a perfect example of a pained attempt to seem severely “resolute” and failing miserably.

How to be Mitt Romney
1. Make a bold statement.
2. Backtrack.
3. Make an awkward joke.

In the silence of the crowd, the sad truth at the heart of Mitt’s campaign torn out and put on display.

The audience was from the Detroit Economic Club. They had paid to see Mitt Romney. They gave up time on a workday to so. If Mitt wins, they’d each likely get millions in tax breaks.

Some people call these scions of big business the elite. George W. Bush called them “my base.”

And they didn’t leap to their feet when Mitt Romney made the central argument of his campaign: Only I can beat this President.

I imagine how a Clinton or Obama audience would have responded in the heat of the campaign to such a claim. I can’t imagine them not leaping to their feet.

Of course, these were conservative businessmen. A little “Here here!” or cheerful hurumphing would have been fine. But Mitt got basically nothing. That’s not encouraging.

Some Michigan Democrats are afraid they won’t get a chance to vote against Mitt Romney in the general elections. Or they want to make sure that he’s not even on the ballot. I think Democrats win when they let the GOP pick their own poison.

Mitt Romney kicked Michigan when Michigan was down. Today we’ll find out if Michigan does the same the same to Mitt.

CC image by dno1967b

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Update 10:39 AM

The big story this morning is about Democrats voting to throw this Primary to Santorum, who should be the underdog. Romney claims he’s the underdog, though he probably shouldn’t mention dogs at all.

Jonathan Chait points out that savvy Michigan voters have swung elections away from the establishment’s choice numerous times.

Here’s a fact about Rick Santorum. If he weren’t the Internet’s most notorious homophobe, he’d be likable. In person, it takes almost a conscious effort not to like him. I’ve said before that his self-righteousness is far more appealing that Mitt Romney’s sense of entitlement.

That fact that this election is even close, though, is no dirty trick. The fault lies not in the stars, dear reader, but in Mitt Romney.

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Update 1:30 PM

It really looks like Mitt could lose Michigan, even among Republicans.

That’s what the late polls show and would explain the full-frontal assault on Santorum’s efforts to lure Democrats in the state by Mitt and the Drudge Report, which has become Mitt’s Fox News. Does anyone doubt that if Drudge had decided that take Mitt down, Mitt would already be done.

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Update 3:17 PM

What’s funny about Mitt Romney is he believes that he apparently isn’t pandering. Today he said, “I’m not going to light my hair on fire to try to get support.”Sounds like he has a very low opinion of what his party wants from him.

But the fact is Romney is warmongering on an epic scale. He’s lying about the sanctions that the US has put on Iran, which are much more crippling than anything George W. Bush ever considered. And he’s beating the drum of war in a way that makes the world more volatile and gas more expensive.

Mitt Romney’s warmongering makes his bromance with Ron Paul all the more strange. Ron Paul has not attack Romney once in a debate. And he’s never pointed out that Romney is pushing exactly the kind of of Neo-Con aggression Paul claims to deplore. Why?

I think it’s because Mitt Romney is an Ayn Rand character come to life. Here’s a man who puts his own accomplishments over any sense of truth or obligation. And it turns Ron on.

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Update 4:47 PM

Mitt Romney is running away with Arizona, the state that loves Jan Brewer, the state that wants to see your papers.

It’s imperative that I at this point note that I’m giddy. This entire liveblog is written with an air of giddiness. I smell Mitt Romney’s defeat tonight in Michigan. It’s why Mitt subjected himself to a humbling press conference. It’s why expectations are being lowered.

That said, I may have been snuckered. It’s almost impossible to imagine Mitt Romney losing Michigan. But from what I see of the news: people are beginning to expect it.

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Update 6:22 PM

If Mitt Romney were a Transformer, he’d turn into Mitt Romney.

Read this tortured explanation on Mitt Romney’s ever evolving, ever hedging stand on a woman’s right to an abortion, and you’ll realize this is a man who is beyond hypocrisy.

This morning, Mitt Romney called Rick Santorum angling for Democratic votes a dirty trick. But the hypocrisy in that statement is preposterous, as usual. Mitt Romney admits that he once registered as a Democrat just to vote for Paul Tsongas. Also, his campaign fought for an open primary, having never assumed that Mitt Romney would have to be the right of Dick Cheney’s cane by the time he hit Michigan.

I hope the news tonight is that Romney has lost a majority of Republicans in Michigan. Nothing could be a starker rebuke of this very weak candidate.

And it will be a chance for America to reflect what has happened to moderate Republicans in America. Moderates are forced to betray their own beliefs and wrap themselves in party orthodoxy or they’re forced out. Either way, this GOP is hungry, and it’s slightly edifying to watch them eat their own.

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Update 6:50 PM

Everyone follows @PourMeCoffee, right?

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Update 7:18 PM

When you have an appearance with Kid Rock and Kid Rock is the one who ends up losing credibility, things are not working out for you.

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Update 7:37 PM

I don’t think anyone thinks Rick Santorum will come out of tonight smelling like roses. It’s important to point out that he was against Democrats voting in Republican primaries before he wasn’t.

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Update 7:53

Detroit Free Press is reporting low turn out across Michigan. I can’t see how this is good news for Romney or the Republican Party. Romney’s argument makes a lot more sense if he provided even a glimmer of a hope of beating the President here. And there is no glimmer.

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Update 7:59

And to speak about something actually presidential

Did you see this? It’s led to gratuitous use of the “barn-burner.”

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Update 8:21 PM

@DanaHoule tells me that 4 counties in the UP are on Central Time. So we want know anything until 9 Eastern. I’ll be back in about 25 minutes to finish this up.  Gonna break the diet and eat some ice cream.

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Update 8:51 PM

So Santorum is up 2-3% with 12% of Michigan reporting. I think it’s safe to say there will be no bailout for Mitt Romney from Michigan.

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Update 9:00 PM

Arizona for Romney, easily.

Michigan is too close to call. Iowa redux.

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Update 9:04 PM

So the “real” exit polls are showing Romney winning his native state, which he won by 9% in 2008, by 2-3%.

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Update 9:18 PM

Here’s how strange this primary is: Rick Santorum is now suffering from inflated expectations. All day long people were feeling as if he were going to win Michigan. Now it seems he’ll lose by a few percent.

I’ve never doubted that Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee. The question is: how damaged will he be? And the answer is: everywhere it matters, Romney is weaker than he was in 2008.

That’s all I have for tonight.

Good job, Michigan. But not a great job.

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Update 9:59 PM

So Michigan is clearly going for Mitt by 3-6%. Karl Rove predicts the high end. He also predicted the Iraq war would pay for itself.

Eclectablog points of that Romney had to outspend Santorum 2:1 to barely win. Get those checkbooks out, Kochs. You’ve got an expensive candidate to finance.

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Update 5:50 AM

Clearly I was giddy last night. My assessment that Mitt is weaker than 2008 in incorrect. He is slightly stronger. And he hasn’t had to self-finance, yet.

In Mitt’s speech last night, he asked his supporters for money. It’s rich, isn’t it?

Sorry, Mitt. My money is in a blind trust that tends not to want to invest in America until I’m definitely running for President.

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