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UPDATED: Romney Ekes Out Michigan Win, But Santorum Expects Tie in Delegate Count

Romney claimed victory in his must-win native state of Michigan, but as a weakened candidate with a narrow margin. Arizona was kinder to him.
 
 
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UPDATE: On a conference call with reporters on Wednesday afternoon, representatives of the Santorum for President campaign said that they expected their candidate to have tied in Michigan for the number of delegates -- 15 each -- to the Republican National Convention that will be apportioned to the candidates as a result of the photo-finish final tally, in which Romney beat Santorum in the popular vote by a mere 3 percentage points. The campaign is basing its projection on "anecdotal and empirical data" it has receceived, said John Brabender, senior advisor to the Santorum campaign -- not certified results from the Michigan secretary of state.

"You can only look at Michigan and move it from a win for Romney as a tied race," said John Brabender, senior advisor to the Santorum campaign. That result, coming in Romney's native state, Brabender said, "can only be seen as a disaster for Mitt Romney, and certainly unexpected by the Romney campaign."

In claiming the tie for Santorum, Brabender reminded that when Santorum won the Missouri primary, which awarded no delegates, the Romney campaign discounted the results.

"The Romney people were quick to put out that what they were calling 'beauty contest votes' meant nothing, and it was all about delegates," Brabender said. "And so we agree with him on that."

The Santorum aide also claimed that the campaign's robocalls to Democratic voters was part of an appeal to "Reagan Democrats," and not part of a monkey-wrenching operation by liberals who wanted to weaken Romney by drawing out the Republican nomination contest.

 

They were both contests Mitt Romney had to win, the pundits said -- the Republican presidential primaries in Arizona and Michigan. The first, Romney won handily, by more than 20 points. The second, he won just barely. At press time, with 88 percent of precincts reporting, Romney’s Michigan victory appeared to be by a mere 3-point margin against his closest rival, Rick Santorum. 

"We didn't win by a lot, but we won by enough -- and that's all that counts," Romney told a roomful of supporters gathered at a conference center in Novi, Mich. While that claim holds an objective truth, the close margin of Romney’s victory over Santorum renders him a wounded culture warrior in his battle for the G.O.P. presidential nomination.

In the quest for delegates to the Republican National Convention, Arizona, a winner-take-all state, handed Romney a big prize, with its 29 delegates. But in Michigan, the state's 30 delegates are doled out by congressional district, and at press time it remained unclear as to whether Romney’s delegate count in that state would actually exceed Santorum’s.

That Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, could come so close to defeating Romney in a state where he is something of a native son would be enough to give pause to any potential Romney backer. But factor in the frankly insane campaign Santorum ran against Romney with just a fraction of the millions Romney and the pro-Romney superPAC, Restore Our Future, are said to have dumped into the Michigan contest, and you get a sense that much is amiss with the Romney candidacy. The Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports that Romney and the ROF PAC spent a total of $3.2 million in Michigan, which adds up to more than $1 million per point in his margin of victory.

Over the course of the last two weeks, Santorum made a series of bizarre pronouncements, calling President Barack Obama “ a snob” for wanting to make college education available to all, and saying that a famous speech by John F. Kennedy defending the separation of church and state “ makes me throw up.” He suggested that Obama adhered to “ a phony theology,” and implied that it was kind of pagan

 
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