On to Michigan – McCain vs. Romney
Because the primaries are front-loaded, there’s no rest for the weary this cycle. John McCain and Mitt Romney are already in Michigan, battling to win next Tuesday’s primary. (Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani are sitting this one out for strategic reasons. No word on Fred Thompson who is, for the moment at least, still running for president. Ditto Duncan Hunter and Ron Paul.)
Both men need to win.
Romney is the favorite son. His father was once the state’s governor, after all. And he needs to win something after coming in second in both Iowa and New Hampshire. (It’s true, as Dave Schuler noted earlier, that Romney has more delegates than the rest of the field combined. Perception is everything at this stage of the game, though.)
McCain is running out of money and needs to re-establish himself as a favorite before the onslaught of Super Duper Tuesday.
“I think McCain will have a good showing, but if he doesn’t win, this could almost be it for him,” said John Truscott, a Republican consultant and spokesman for former Michigan Gov. John Engler.
John Yob, campaign chairman for McCain in Michigan, said New Hampshire’s convincing victory will give the campaign the boost it needs. “This will be a repeat of 2000,” Yob said, referring to McCain’s Michigan victory in the 2000 presidential primary. “And we’ll win on the strength of Republicans and independents.”
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has raised $62.8 million, including $17 million of his own money, while McCain has raised $32.1 million, according to campaign finance reports filed in October. The next fund-raising reports are due Jan. 31.
Romney can survive a second-place finish in Michigan and still win the Republican nomination, said political consultant Craig Ruff of Public Sector Consultants in Lansing. “Romney could be bridesmaid in a dozen states and still come out a winner. It depends on whether or not there is a bride who starts consistently winning,” he said. “It is possible that the Republicans could go into the convention without a clear nominee. And Romney could continue to run second or third and come into the convention with enough delegates to be a compromise choice.”
Technically, that’s true. Romney becomes increasingly implausible, though, with each loss. And losing two states in his own backyard to McCain would inflict a mortal wound.
What about the Democrats, you say? Well, they’re skipping this one.
None of the major Democratic candidates are campaigning in Michigan, and the only top-tier candidate on the ballot is New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. Other Democrats pulled their names from the ballot because Michigan violated national party rules with its early primary.
So, this is a Republican-only — indeed, a McCain-Romney only — affair.
Photo credit: NY Sun