Nightly News | February 26, 2012
>>> 48 hours from that crucial primary in michigan where mitt romney was born and raised, tonight polls show romney and rick santorum neck and neck. and both candidates came out swinging today with a momentum of a race hanging in the balance . nbc's ron mott has our report.
>> reporter: with the race for michigan zooming toward the finish line on tuesday, today, presidential politics moved to the fast track. mitt romney and rick santorum both showed up at the daytona 500 .
>> i'll vote for you.
>> thank you. i need that.
>> upstate new york .
>> all right, we need your help.
>> reporter: romney in person, in nascar red. santorum's red and blue logo on the number 26 race car , which romney sized up. it was a sporting moment in an increasingly heated campaign, with fiery barbs flying in both directions in recent days and toward president obama .
>> this president appeases.
>> reporter: and though this race was postponed by rain, the other continued. santorum made the sunday talk show rounds this morning, hitting on romney 's conservative claims.
>> comes out here in these debates and tries to say he's the conservative in the race. it is a joke.
>> reporter: defending his snob remark about the president, suggesting all americans give college a try, even going after in graphic detail the famed 1960 speech by john f. kennedy to protestant ministers.
>> i believe in a president whose views on religion are his own private affair.
>> reporter: a speech about separation of church and state .
>> i don't believe in an america with a separation of church and state as absolute. people of faith have no role in the public square , you bet that makes you throw up.
>> reporter: for mitt romney , who picked up an endorsement from arizona's governor jan brewer in advance of that state's tuesday primary, connecting with the religious right has been a struggle.
>> kim drives a couple of cadillacs actually.
>> reporter: so too with blue collar republicans, like some of today's nascar fans, many of whom say romney is out of touch.
>> you know, i can't be perfect. i just am who i am. if people think there is something wrong with being successful in america, they better vote for the other guy because i've been extraordinarily successful and i want to use that success and know how to help the american people .
>> reporter: if mitt romney loses here in michigan on tuesday, calls for other high profile republicans to jump in this race could get louder. two of the names most often mentioned, chris christie and mitch daniels , both affirmed today they have no plans to run for president at this time. though governor christie said he would at least listen if governor romney calls him about joining a fall ticket.
>> it is an interesting conversation going on, ron, thanks.