In the 2012 Republican presidential race, a caucus or primary’s front-runner often becomes tomorrow’s runner-up. This was the case last night. Mitt Romney, as predicted, won by a landslide in Arizona and came from behind to win Michigan, the state that his father governed. Rick Santorum, hardly discouraged, characterized his narrow loss as something to celebrate because of the odds against him in the state.
At the time of publication, Romney had 48% of the vote in Arizona. Santorum came in second with 26%, followed by Newt Gingrich with 16% and Ron Paul with 9%. Romney appears to have won Michigan by only about three percent — 41% to Santorum’s 38% at last estimation. Paul defeated Gingrich for third, 12% to 7%.
There are two ways to look at the results. On the one hand, Romney came from behind when polls just last week showed Santorum with a significant lead. On the other hand, Romney won this state by 9 percent over McCain in 2008. His father was a popular governor of the state, and Romney grew up there. Michigan was looked at by most political analysts as a second home-state for him.
In his victory speech, Romney worked to characterize the night as a surprise victory. He said that “they were ready to count us out” last week. His speech did not mention or refer to any of his rivals and was geared for the general election. He warned that President Obama would be “unrestrained” if he’s re-elected and sought to counter the declining unemployment rate by talking about the “real unemployment rate” of 15%. He said that Obama’s excuse that he inherited a poor economy is invalid because he also inherited a Democratic Congress that would have given him free reign to fix it.
Rick Santorum’s concession speech was written like a victory speech. He did not go on the attack against Romney in it and emphasized that he was fighting an uphill battle in Michigan and made it a nail-biter. This speech was unique because it focused on the “Freedom Agenda” that would define his first 100 days in office. He talked at length about energy security and driving the price of gasoline downwards.
He pledged to maximize domestic production of oil and talked about North Dakota’s potential in this area. He said he’d repeal ObamaCare, revive the manufacturing sector, have state governments run entitlement programs and fight for a balanced budget. The last part of his speech was about the Declaration of Independence and George Washington. He told the inspiring story of Washington and what he fought for in great detail and used it as a rallying call.
Newt Gingrich, struggling to make a comeback, went on The O’Reilly Factor to discuss gas prices and his stance on Afghanistan. He said that he hoped to resuscitate his campaign by focusing on how he’d bring the price of gasoline down to $2.50 per gallon, fight against the establishment and refuse to apologize, as Obama did, for the accidental burning of Qurans in Afghanistan.