Elections 2012: Romney Holds Off Santorum in Michigan, Easily Wins Arizona

A relieved Mitt Romney hailed his big night Tuesday after winning crucial primaries in Arizona and his childhood home of Michigan to revitalize his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Mitt Romney pulled off a win in the Michigan primary tonight, though the race was close and underscored his struggles as the GOP establishment candidate seeking the party's nomination. The former Massachusetts governor also won, by a larger margin, a contest in Arizona, a state that he was expected to take in part because of its large Mormon population. Photo: Mitt Romney/Flickr

Mitt Romney’s narrow win over Rick Santorum in Michigan on Tuesday, combined with his decisive win in Arizona, allowed his campaign a sigh of relief, The Huff Post reports. He knew he had narrowly missed hitting an iceberg.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, had 41 percent to Santorum’s 38 percent, with 99 percent of the vote counted.

Romney won Arizona with 47 percent to Santorum’s 27 percent, with 89 percent of the vote counted.

“We didn’t win by a lot but we won by enough and that’s all that counts,” said Romney, who was measured in his exuberance, reflecting in his body language the knowledge that a long fight still lies ahead.

“I stand ready to lead our party to victory and our nation back to prosperity,” Mr. Romney told a jubilant crowd of supporters. “It’s a critical time in America.”

Mitt Romney also didn’t miss a chance to make his first public plea for donations during a major campaign speech while speaking Tuesday in Michigan — not coincidentally at a time when his campaign is burning though money.

“I need your support,” Romney said after winning primaries in Michigan and Arizona. “I’m asking for you to get out and vote and I’m asking for you by the way to go on MittRomney.com and pledge your support in every way possible. I’m asking you to join the fight for our freedom.”

According to The Huff Post, the Romney campaign spent a whopping $18.7 million during the month of January, averaging $603,225 per day. The candidate took in only about $206,451 per day during that period.

A Santorum victory in Michigan would have been a major upset, and raised more questions about how strong a candidate Romney is within his own party.

Mr. Santorum beamed when he took the stage before a cheering crowd in Grand Rapids and reminded his supporters of how far he had come.

“A month ago they didn’t know who we are,” Mr. Santorum said, moments after calling Mr. Romney to concede. “They do now.”

Representative Ron Paul of Texas spoke Tuesday evening from Virginia, a state where only he and Mr. Romney qualified for the ballot next week, reports The New York Times.

Having built an extensive network of supporters in caucus states, including several holding contests on Super Tuesday, Mr. Paul pledged to stay in the race, declaring that his campaign is “still winning a lot of delegates, and that’s what counts.”

Newt Gingrich, who did not actively campaign in Michigan or Arizona, is hoping to revive his candidacy next week in Georgia and Tennessee.

His allies are airing a new “super PAC” television advertisement on his behalf starting Wednesday, aggressively taking on Mr. Romney across several Southern states.

Yet Santorum appeared poised to win as many, if not more, delegates as Romney in Michigan. While Romney won all of Arizona’s 29 delegates, only 10 delegates out of Michigan’s 30 -– equally divided between Santorum and Romney -– had been decided by early Wednesday, and because most were being awarded based on who won each congressional district, Santorum had a chance of winning more delegates even though he lost the state’s popular vote.

Santorum led in most of the congressional districts that remained tossups, though the margins in some were very close.

There are 437 delegates up for grabs on Super Tuesday. Washington, which caucuses Saturday, awards 43 delegates.

Romney has now only amassed 157 delegates to Santorum’s 77. Gingrich, who did not compete in Arizona or Michigan and is banking on a strong showing in Georgia and the other southern states on Super Tuesday, has 32, while Paul has 19.

But having avoided a gaze into the abyss, Romney and his campaign must quickly move to seize the initiative in Washington state, which will caucus Saturday, and then in several of the 10 states that will vote next week on Super Tuesday, a quickening of the primary’s pace that stands in stark contrast to the three-week lull that preceded the contests in Michigan and Arizona.

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