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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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Even though Santorum also opposed the auto bailout, he claimed to oppose the Wall Street bailout, as well, and made a case for at least being consistent. When it became apparent that some Democrats were poised to vote for him just to mess with Romney, Santorum encouraged it, even making robo-calls to Democratic voters. Romney accused Santorum of playing "political dirty tricks." 

At The Daily Kos, founder Markos Moulitsas stepped up his Operation Hilarity campaign, which also encourages Democrats to vote for Santorum in open primaries on the grounds that it is, well, hilarious to see Romney oppressed by such an out-there opponent.

A Concession or a Victory Speech?

While Romney delivered his valedictory in his usual bland-but-anxious, eager-to-please manner, Santorum's concession speech sounded an awful lot like a victory speech -- and one designed to correct some of the crazy he had injected into his own campaign.

"Wow, a month ago, they didn’t knew who we are," Santorum said, "but they do now."

More forceful and confident than Romney, Santorum, addressing supporters at the Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids, didn't just deride the president for delaying the Keystone project, he took on the whole of the administration's energy program while banging a piece of shale rock on the podium. He mentioned a shale-rich town in North Dakota.

"It’s a small town, and it could be a boomtown," Santorum said. "But they’re nervous, because the president and EPA is hovering. Yes, they developing oil on private lands, this oil, yeah, this is oil. Oil -- out of rock, shale. It leaches oil. In fact, the highest-quality oil in the world, light sweet crude."

But before his disquisition on energy -- which called for extraction by virtually any means necessary -- Santorum began his speech with a pitch to women, who may have been alienated by his pronouncements on birth control and on the virtues of home-schooling, and people who think going to college is a good thing.

Invoking the image of his 93-year-old mother watching him on television, Santorum spoke of how she did something unusual for a woman in the 1930s: she graduated from college, became a nurse, and continued her education to get a graduate degree. She worked at the Veterans Administration (a government job) where she met Santorum's father, and they married.

"[T]hey had me and the rest of the family, my brother and sister, and my mom continued to work," Santorum said. "She worked all of my childhood years. She balanced time, as my dad did, working different schedules, and she was a very unusual person at that time. She was a professional who actually made more money than her husband."

He then spoke of the accomplishments of his wife, Karen, an attorney and a nurse who "walked away" from all that in order to raise the couple's seven children. 

Romney Lives to See Super Tuesday

The nomination contest resumes on March 3, with caucuses in the state of Washington, where 43 delegates are up for grabs. On March 6, Romney will face off against Santorum once again, this time in a total of 10 states, with Gingrich thrown into the mix. (Oh, you thought he was gone?) Among those states, Georgia is the biggest prize, with its 76 delegates, and Georgia just happens to be the state that sent the former House speaker to Congress for 20 years. (Its delegates, however, are doled out proportionally to the percentage of the vote won by a candidate.) Ohio also promises to be hard-fought. More conservative than Michigan, and neighboring Santorum's native Pennsylvania, a brutal battle is expected in the Buckeye State.

 
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