Nightly News | February 15, 2012
>>> back to this country now. once again in this wild gop primary campaign, mitt romney is in a tough spot. as the analysts always like to point out, he's still the best finance candidate with the best organization, but on top of the fact rick santorum one three of the last four contests, while romney is from michigan , he owns place necessary four other states, and these days is working hard to explain why he was against the government's auto industry bailouts. that doesn't go over well in the state we associate with detroit and american cars . nbc's peter alexander is in grand rapids tonight.
>> reporter: a self-described son of detroit , mitt romney is son of michigan 's legendary governors george romney , the sign of an auto executive who proudly claims cars are in his bones.
>> detroit auto show with my dad. that was a big deal . i want to make michigan stronger and better. michigan has been my home and this is personal.
>> reporter: for adults of a certain age across this state, romney is a household name dating back a half century. it's one reason romney lost his 2008 presidential bid at the henry ford museum in dearborn, a primary he later won.
>> we are celebrating in michigan .
>> reporter: romney went years without touting his michigan roots, running for office in massachusetts, first to be senator before later becoming governor. among some diners in grand rapids , the senior romney 's political career is a dim memory.
>> i'm 46, so, yeah. i was probably in diapers.
>> reporter: as for his son?
>> he stands for business as usual , honestly, to me. that's what comes to mind first.
>> the romney name is familiar, but mitt romney is not well known. he left in the early '70s to go to harvard, to massachusetts in school. is's never been back.
>> reporter: romney is facing stiff competition from rick santorum who has appeal here. at a time when the american auto industry is getting back on its feet.
>> people of detroit know a little something about this.
>> reporter: and evidenced by this general motor plant in flint adding a third shift last summer. romney renewed his opposition to the auto bailout.
>> when general motors got in trouble, instead of having it go through the bankruptcy process where it could come out on its own, perhaps getting help from others from time to time, instead he made sure general motors got handed over to the uaw.
>> reporter: a position that may not be shared by many michigan voters.
>> to allow the industries that made this state and put this state on the map go under would have been ridiculous.
>> reporter: tonight mitt romney is about to begin what he and his aides call a welcome home rally. and his strong roots in the state, the romney campaign with a strong push here showing one more indication how significant they view a win in this state.
>> peter alexander on the campaign trail in grand rapids . thanks