By Becky Frotter
Lansing Township News staff writer
Winning the Michigan Republican primary last night, Mitt Romney brought his delegate count to a little closer to the 1,144 needed to win the Republican presidential nomination.
Although it is too early to see this lead as absolute, many are expecting to see Romney win the nomination, and those on both sides of the aisle are reacting to how his candidacy would fit into the upcoming election.
Republican State Senator Rick Jones thinks that other candidates like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are “flaming stars” that experienced big flashes of success and then crashed, while Romney has maintained a steady support throughout his campaigning.
“I think Mitt Romney will win the nomination handily,” Jones said.
Even Romney himself, however, did not classify the margin of victory in Michigan as winning handily. Beating Rick Santorum by only three percent of the vote, Romney said in a post-primary speech that he “didn’t win by a lot, but [he] won by enough.”
Mark Brewer, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, said that this small margin in Romney’s own home state coupled with low voter turnout, indicates a serious lack of enthusiasm for the Republican candidacy pool and Romney in particular.
“People have a hard time connecting with him,” Brewer said. “You can see it. The executive office in Lansing is named after his father; he should have just mopped the floor with Santorum tonight. He should have been anointed in Michigan. But he just can’t get Republicans either here or elsewhere to support him.”
However, Jones said that within the Republican party, people are still “absolutely excited” about supporting Romney.
“I’ve heard from citizens who admire Romney’s moral lifestyle or things that he’s accomplished,” Jones said. “I think people are going to be very excited and push him to the top.”
Romney recently made headlines for a couple of statements perceived by some as elitist. When asked if he liked racing at the Daytona 500, Romney said that he doesn’t follow NASCAR closely, but is friends with many team owners. While at in event at Detroit’s Ford Field, Romney attempted to show his support for automakers by listing cars that he and his wife own.
Brewer said this is evidence that Romney’s wealth makes him out of touch with the average American.
“It’s gaffe after gaffe,” he said. “His Ford Field event only filled about 1,000 people in a stadium built for 65,000… Romney is the candidate of the one percent.”
Jones said, though, that the average Michigander and American taxpayer isn’t concerned with how wealthy Romney is, and those very statements under scrutiny by many prove how supportive he is of the average taxpayer.
“The common man in my district drives to the Lansing [General Motors] plant and makes those Cadillacs,” he said. “They’re happy that [Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann] likes to drive Cadillacs. We’re very happy they support American-made cars.”
Jones also said that Romney’s business savvy shows that he is a great candidate for carrying out the Republican message this election, which is focused on fixing the still-wounded economy.
“Mitt Romney understands how businesses can create jobs, and that the government doesn’t create jobs,” Jones said. “[He] understands how to turn companies around and create a business climate.”
Brewer said that the public’s need for a continuation of President Barack Obama’s success will be enough to defeat Romney’s message if he goes on to become the Republican candidate.
“Look at the President, who brought us back from the Great Depression, saved the auto industry, invested in education and alternative energy,” Brewer said. “He stands up for us, he’s got great success in foreign policy. He killed Osama Bin Laden. You’ve got a big contrast in that with Mitt Romney. When he was governor of Massachusetts, he had one of the worst job creation rates in the country. He’s spent his career destroying jobs.”