Romney's Great Escape

Romney’s great escape

By Rich  Lowry

Published February 29, 2012 |

Say this for Mitt Romney: He won. Although no one thought a few weeks ago that would be anything to brag about in Michigan.

Romney came back to edge Rick Santorum in his home state that he won handily in 2008.

He should now avoid the consequences of a Michigan loss: the desperate pleas for another candidate to get in the race, a major downdraft in fundraising and intense pressure for a campaign shakeup.

Otherwise, he is slouching toward Tampa in what still projects as a drawn-out slog for delegates.

Last week, Romney stumbled upon an unfortunate metaphor for his campaign when he gave a much-hyped economic speech at Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions play.

The content of his talk was overwhelmed by commentary about the staging. Romney and his audience occupied one end of the field. From the right angle, it looked like a nice crowd and Romney spoke against a professional-looking backdrop.

However, from another perspective, all the vast emptiness of the stadium was visible and the event had a Potemkin feel.

There was a sense that Romney wasn’t filling out his role as the frontrunner. On top of that, he added to his catalogue of clumsy statements by saying his wife drives a couple of Cadillacs, a line that got more attention than any of his economic proposals.

But, in the end, he won (and out in Arizona, won overwhelmingly). Al Davis would tell you nothing else matters. Given how genuinely delighted and relieved he seemed during his victory speech, Romney must be inclined to agree. He was practically glowing.

In Michigan, Romney ran ads just negative enough to hurt Santorum–who had surged to a lead in Michigan after his surprise victories in Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado–without suffering undue backlash. He needled his way to victory in the debate last week, pushing Santorum on all it is about his record as a senator that doesn’t accord with his image as a conservative purist.