Mitt Romney’s Test: Surviving Tuesday

Mitt Romney’s against the ropes and Rick Santorum’s hoping to land a knockout blow on Tuesday before his own skeletons come to light, taking the wind out of the sails of his surging popularity, forcing him to compete with Romney on substance rather than rhetoric.

A double-defeat in Michigan and Arizona would imperil the Romney campaign, risking the perceived Republican front-runner’s chances of winning the nomination, in the process weakening the GOP’s chances in the fall elections.

Until recently tomorrow’s primaries were viewed as a stepping stone to the big show on March 6th known as Super Tuesday. In the past month Romney’s poll numbers have nose-dived, at one point bottoming out 15% below Santorum in Romney’s home state of Michigan.Romney’s Raider’s responded quickly by increasing the number and severity of attack ads and tripling Santorum’s advertising budget in an attempt to revive Romney’s hopes in his home state.

That strategy appears to be working. The race has tightened considerably, with Romney showing a slight two-point lead in both states. However, the latest polls also reveal that neither Romney nor Santorum is doing well against President Obama, who’s maintaining a double-digit lead over both potential Republican candidates in multiple head-to-head polls conducted on Monday, February 27th.

Repeated flubs and miscues by both candidates are undermining their campaign hopes.

In a speech for members of the Detroit’s Economic Club, the focus of Romney’s speech – the unveiling of his plan to increase Medicare’s eligibility age – was undermined by the following twittable quip, “I uh – I love this country. I should love this state. This feels good being back in Michigan. Uh – you know the trees are the right height, the uh – the streets are just right. I like the fact that most of the cars I see are Detroit made automobiles. I drive a Mustang and a Chevy Pickup truck. Ann drives a couple of Cadillac’s actually and uh – I used to have a Dodge Truck so I used to have all three covered.” That quote went viral immediately and became the fodder for satirists everywhere.

It was matched by an equally embarrassing revelation by Santorum. In a widely disseminated speech from 2008 an excited Santorum is shown telling an enraptured audience that Satan has attacked America “using those great vices of pride, vanity and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition.”

If Santorum can pull off another sweep Romney will be reeling and possibly down for the count. However, if Romney’s Raider’s are able to revive their champion through attack ads their success may undermine the hopes for any Republican presidential candidate in the fall elections as the negativity fostered during the primaries will come to fruition in the fall’s ballot boxes.

The results of tomorrow’s primaries will determine whether or not the Republican primary becomes a veritable wasteland of negativity. A place where there are no winners, but a place where victory is awarded to the candidate suffering the fewest degrees of loss.

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