Santorum’s surge sends Romney campaign into reboot mode

Rick Santorum: The latest "new" threat to Romney (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Staggered by Rick Santorum‘s surge, Mitt Romney is trying to reset his presidential campaign by defining himself as a strict conservative.

The former Massachusetts governor had focused on his business credentials and played down his ideology, four years after he failed in his attempt to win the GOP nomination by running as a social conservative.

“I was a severely conservative Republican governor,” Romney told the Conservative Political Action Committee‘s annual gathering Friday. It was a speech that, advisers said, Romney viewed as an important chance to speak directly to the conservatives who rejected him in three contests last Tuesday.

He insisted that he is a conservative in both record and background, trying to convince the GOP’s skeptical right flank that he is acceptable as the party’s nominee.

“My path to conservatism came from my family, from my faith and from my life’s work,” Romney said.

He’s working to gain trust from the activists who make up the GOP base and who drive the Republican primary contest. They view him skeptically because of his past shifts on a variety of issues, including his previous support for abortion rights.

Conservatives generally view Romney’s chief rivals, Santorum and Newt Gingrich, as having views more in line with their own.

Romney’s new message comes as he’s trying to prove he can win over a broad spectrum of Republicans. He has yet to win a majority of GOP votes in any of the contests he’s won so far. And he’s looking to emerge strongly from Super Tuesday, March 6, when 10 states hold nominating contests.

In offering the defense, though, Romney drew attention to the problem he’s faced throughout the primary contest.

“I’ve never heard anybody say, ‘I’m severely conservative,’” conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said Friday.

Romney’s conservative opposition remains divided — the former House speaker has won one state and the former Pennsylvania senator four. But Santorum is suddenly threatening Romney’s dominance in states where his team had previously felt comfortable.

This past week, Santorum won contests in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado. While Romney’s team decided not to compete in Missouri’s nonbinding primary and acknowledged early that Minnesota might pose problems, they were much more optimistic about Colorado. Romney spent several days campaigning there ahead of the caucuses, but his team spent just $32,000 on TV ads in the state.

In a sign it’s nervous about continued losses, Romney’s team abruptly added campaign events in Maine, where results from the caucuses were to be announced Saturday. He also held a town hall in the state Friday night; it was the first event where he took questions from voters since he campaigned in South Carolina in January.

Romney’s team is preparing an aggressive push against Santorum in Michigan, where Romney was born and where Romney is a household name and where his advisers had hoped for an easy victory. Romney’s father, George, served as governor of Michigan and chairman of American Motor Corp. before mounting a failed bid for president in 1968.

Romney all but ignored Santorum ahead of this week’s contests. Advisers say that will change, with Romney taking on Santorum’s record on union issues during his time in the Senate from heavily unionized Pennsylvania.

Santorum joined a filibuster of a national right-to-work act and voted to defend legislation that sets pay for public sector workers. He defends that record as an issue of states’ rights.

Romney has also planned a more aggressive campaign schedule in Michigan in the coming weeks. He will hold events in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids on Wednesday and stay in the Midwest through the end of the week. He’s likely to spend some time campaigning in Ohio, which holds its primary on March 6, Super Tuesday, and is the first Rust Belt state to hold a nominating contest.

Romney’s big advantage is money. He and his allies, the super PAC Restore Our Future, have spent a combined $25 million on TV ads to date, helping to drive wins in New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada. That dwarfs the $7.1 million Gingrich and his allies have spent on airtime and the $2.5 million Santorum backers have shelled out.

Still, Romney is facing a crush of primaries and caucuses on March 6, when his financial edge will be tested. But he always could add to that himself. He hasn’t said if he’ll contribute any of his considerable personal fortune to the campaign. In 2008, he spent $45 million.

Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press

Enhanced by Zemanta

3 Responses to "Santorum’s surge sends Romney campaign into reboot mode"

  1. Iseethelight  February 11, 2012 at 11:55 am

    The caption to this picture should say “I’ve got this much chance of being President”

  2. Sandy Price  February 11, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    The threat of drug testing all Americans who accept money from the federal government is a threat to all of us. It’s bad enough to have to listen to Mitt, Newt and Rick threaten us with Amendments to the Constitution to bring us all under the thumb of the Vatican but to do it openly as if we all are closet Catholics, is a bit much.

    To explain this strange attitude must mean that we all are indeed closet Catholics. Yesterday morning on MSNBC I saw actual pain in the faces of Mika, Joe, Willie and Barnicle when the Bishop visited and talked about Catholic laws and how important it is to return to them. Is this really our last chance at declaring America a free nation? Must we return to the old laws of the Inquisition and Salem witch trials to claim our right to heaven?

    The shock was when this crap came from David Axelrod who spoke from the White House. Will Obama be willing to drug test all of us so he can pull our names off the Social Security list and save a billion dollars in welfare checks? I paid into that organization and if they want me off the list, they are going to have to buy me back. I have no doubt that any of the Republican candidates would not hesitate to drug test everyone just so they can remove us from their payment lists. Would the Vatican approve? absolutely! Paul Ryan would even fake the tests to prove a point. There is no depth the Christians would not plummet to bring America around to s Christian nation.

    I saw fear in Mika’s eyes on Friday; a fear that comes from a fear of their monster God. A fear that one of their children would be killed in a freakish accident. It would send a message that this monster God plays a deadly game. The Catholic Bishop saw this in Mika’s eyes and he nodded.

    This all is a result of a lack of intelligence within our voters. For 200 years, many of our founding fathers tried to send warning to keep the church and state separate. The American people are too damn stupid and arrogant to listen. When Newt, Rick or Mitt sends the first nukes to Iran, please don’t act shocked! Even Rush will laugh his ass off at how utterly stupid Americans are.

    This morning on UP with Chris Hayes, it was announced that one in 4 Americans are Catholic. Half my fathers family were Catholic and one in 3 did time in a federal prison. When it comes to worshipping even a Monster God, there is no right over wrong found anywhere.

    I cannot remember ever being this depressed over any election. Every two years the bad guys get worse and the good guys fade away. These good guys are no longer visible and are often found like this new spokesman for Newt (Bob Livingston) who was also thrown out of office on ethics violations. Newt has balls to choose this flake as a supporter. Newt now wants his lovely wife to be first lady. I’m no snob but no way in hell do I want that whore in the White House. If these are the Catholics that the GOP demands, then let them take us down to the sewer level without me.

    I cancelled my trip to Red Rock as I no longer even trust the Libertarian Party to know right from wrong. Without all this bull shit from the bible, I got my ethics from knowing right from wrong. Politics is way too dirty for my participation.

  3. Almandine  February 12, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    I just wonder how he got that crooked nose…

Comments are closed.