Video: Mich. primary is key for Romney

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updated 1/15/2008 3:47:42 PM ET 2008-01-15T20:47:42
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Mitt Romney may not have expected his campaign's future to come down to his home state, but that's the conventional wisdom heading into Tuesday's GOP presidential primary in Michigan.

Having suffered surprising losses in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the former Massachusetts governor is now battling it out in his boyhood state with John McCain. As he's toured Michigan this past week, Romney has been emphasizing his plan to spur growth in the state's troubled economy while also reminding voters that, to him, "Michigan in personal."

In his final ad to hit the airwaves before voters began heading for the polls Tuesday morning, Romney reminds Michiganders of his commitment to the state, dating back to the time when his father was governor for six years. "I grew up in Michigan when Michigan was the pride of America. It breaks my heart to see us in a one-state recession," he says as shots of vintage cars and a 1960s-era Michigan flash across the screen. His solution for the state's unemployment woes and struggling manufacturing sector is new leadership in Washington to "invest in the future with new technology and innovation, and unleash the power of Michigan."

In a highly anticipated speech before the Detroit Economic Club on Monday, Romney specifically targeted fuel efficiency standards that have hurt the auto industry, and he promised to roll those back if elected. But the Boston Globe reports this morning that "as governor, Romney imposed tough emissions standards in December 2005 that added Massachusetts to a growing list of states seeking to force the auto industry to produce cleaner-burning cars -- which automakers considered a back-door attempt to raise fuel standards."

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The numbers coming out of the Wolverine State ahead of tonight's results show Romney and McCain running neck-and-neck. Unlike Romney and Mike Huckabee, who have tailored their most recent ads to Michigan's economic focus, McCain has kept his advertising messages in Michigan relatively unchanged from New Hampshire, where he won big last week.

With considerably fewer resources than the cash-rich Romney campaign, Team McCain simply retooled its "Endorsed" TV spot from the Granite State to reflect the praise the Arizona senator has received from the Detroit press. And on the radio, McCain continues to remind voters of his POW past with a new spot in which the Vietnam veteran recounts the story of a patriotic fellow inmate at the Hanoi Hilton.

Southern charm
Just as Romney has shifted all his eggs to Michigan's basket, GOP rival Fred Thompson has similarly pinned his campaign's future on the first-in-the-South contest in South Carolina. Hoping the Palmetto State will be more receptive to a son of the South than were Iowa and New Hampshire, the former Tennessee senator moved his entire operation to the state before the results in the Granite State had even been tallied.

In just his eighth ad buy of the race, Thompson emphasizes his conservative credentials in a new TV spot running statewide in South Carolina. Directly addressing the camera, Thompson tells voters, "Friends, we're in a fight for our conservative values. I'm a conservative. Always have been. Always will be." He also reiterates his opposition to "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, his pro-life record, his support for tax cuts and his pledge to "protect our security against Islamic radicals."

In addition to his renewed ad campaign, the Greenville News reports that "an upbeat Fred Thompson mixed impromptu one-liners with his campaign theme of constancy to conservative principles" at a Monday stop in Simpsonville, S.C. The candidate appears to be energized by new polling numbers from Rasmussen showing him in a statistical tie with Romney and Huckabee for second place behind McCain. But it remains to be seen whether his late resurgence will be enough to save his campaign and propel him to a gold or even silver medal in South Carolina.

Copyright 2012 by National Journal Group Inc.

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