DETROIT, MICHIGAN, February 29, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney swept both the Arizona and Michigan primaries on Tuesday, edging out former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum in a tough fight in the state where Romney was born and his father served as a three-term governor.
“Thank you, Michigan, and thank you, Arizona,” Romney said in his acceptance speech. He referred to the night’s results as “a great victory.”
This morning on Fox News, Santorum also referred to the Michigan primary as a “victory.” Santorum adviser John Brabender said, “I don’t know how you look at that as anything besides this being a strong showing for Rick Santorum and anything short of a disaster for Mitt Romney.”
Romney won handily in Arizona, besting Santorum by 20 percentage points. But Michigan was much narrower in the popular vote—and may have resulted in a tie in the delegates race.
“We didn’t win by a lot, but we won by enough. And that’s all that counts,” Romney told supporters in the Detroit suburb of Novi Tuesday night.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Romney won Michigan by 41.1 percent to 37.9 percent for Santorum. Due to Michigan’s proportional representation system, two delegates are awarded to the winner in each of the state’s 14 congressional district.
As of this writing, both Romney and Santorum earned 13 delegates. “It’s highly likely this is is going to end up being a tie, based on the data that we have,” Brabender said. “Splitting the Michigan vote in the face of being outspent by millions of dollars was certainly a moral victory for Santorum,” wrote George Rasley on ConservativeHQ.com, run by longtime conservative activist Richard Viguerie.
Exit polls from Michigan show Santorum and Romney essentially split working women. Santorum won voters who described themselves as “very conservative” by 14 points. Santorum won heavily among pro-life voters, evangelical Christians, and values voters.
Catholic voters preferred Mitt Romney by seven points.
Despite Tuesday’s victories, the GOP party base may still be uncomfortable with Romney as the nominee. “According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, only 38 percent of ‘very conservative’ Americans now express favorable views of Mitt Romney. That’s his lowest mark of the campaign among staunch conservatives, and is down 16 percentage points over the past two weeks,” Rasley wrote. “Consolidating the conservative vote, staying on message and rejecting the establishment media’s advice to run to the middle will pay even greater dividends for Santorum on Super Tuesday.”
The Susan B. Anthony List, Campaign for Working Families, CatholicVote.org, the Culture War Victory Fund, and Let Freedom Ring launched a five-day statewide bus tour throughout Michigan and purchased $150,000 in radio ads. Their bus will travel through Ohio, Tennessee, and Georgia leading up to Super Tuesday. They will also run $250,000 in radio ads.
“After tonight’s encouraging results, we move ahead to Super Tuesday with even more energy,” said Susan B. Anthony List Vice President for Government Affairs Marilyn Musgrave.
“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,” Santorum wrote in a fundraising e-mail. Brabender agreed, “If we can do this well in Romney’s home state, this bodes well for Super Tuesday.”
Romney told his supporters Tuesday night his “unwavering conviction” led him to a message that “has rallied millions of Americans to our cause. And it’s the message we will take to every corner of this country – from Ohio and Idaho to Georgia and Tennessee.”
“We are going to continue to work to earn every vote, taking nothing for granted,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg told LifeSiteNews.com. “But we are confident that the more voters continue to learn about Mitt Romney, the more they will realize that he is exactly what our country needs right now to get spending under control, create jobs, and get our nation back on the right track.”
The Associated Press reports that Romney leads the delegate count with 165 to Santorum’s 85 delegates. Newt Gingrich has 32. Ron Paul has 19. A candidate will not secure the nomination until he has the votes of 1,144 delegates.
Ten states participate in the Super Tuesday primaries on March 6.