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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Endorses Romney

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Endorses Romney

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - February 16, 2012


Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder threw his weight behind Mitt Romney on Thursday, giving the former Massachusetts governor a boost less than two weeks before voters head to the polls in the candidate's native state.

"Michigan needs Washington to be an active, innovative and supportive partner in its reinvention so that we can put families back to work and give our children the fulfilling opportunities they deserve," said Snyder in a statement announcing his support. "Mitt Romney gets it." He cited Romney's private-sector and outside-the-Beltway experience as a reason for his endorsement. Snyder was elected for the first time in 2010 after a career as a businessman.

The support comes with Romney in a surprisingly uncomfortable spot and in need of some momentum in Michigan -- which he calls his "home state." Romney was raised in Michigan (where his father served six years as governor) and won the state's primary last cycle. But four years later, he is trailing Rick Santorum in the polls there; the RealClearPolitics average puts Santorum eight points ahead of Romney.

A new Michigan survey released the day of the Snyder endorsement finds Santorum edging Romney, 34 percent to 30 percent, a margin that is within the sampling error. Newt Gingrich attracts 12 percent while Ron Paul garners 9 percent, according to the Detroit News-WDIV poll. Santorum and Romney receive positive favorability ratings that are comparable.

Despite the growing support for Santorum, however, Republican voters see Romney as more electable in the general election. Forty-two percent say the former Massachusetts governor can beat President Obama, while only 18 percent say the same about Santorum.

Santorum is running a negative ad in Michigan, featuring a gun-toting Romney impersonator who shoots mud at a cardboard cutout of Santorum. The spot charges Romney with spending millions of dollars on negative advertising against his rivals. And there is more to come from Santorum on the airwaves. NBC reports that his super PAC, Red White and Blue Fund, has purchased $652,000 worth of broadcast and cable ads in the Wolverine State.

Michigan's primary could be a pivotal moment for Romney's campaign after recent losses in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota. He is also losing traction to Santorum nationally.

While campaigning in Michigan, Romney has tried to position himself as a Michigander. His campaign launched a statewide television ad this week highlighting his local roots. "I want to make Michigan strong and better. Michigan's been my home, and this is personal," he says in the ad.

In announcing Snyder's support, Romney echoed that sentiment. “Michigan is where I grew up," he said in a statement. "Getting the state back on track is personal for me. . . . Along with the work of conservative leaders like Governor Snyder, we will be able to restore Michigan’s once-thriving economy and help the state lead a national economic recovery.”

Romney has collected support from more than 100 local officials across the state. And while it certainly helps, it's unclear how big of an impact Snyder's endorsement will have. After all, Romney received backing from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley only to lose her state to Gingrich.

Snyder is expected to appear with Romney at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon near Detroit on Thursday. The Michigan primary is Feb. 28.

The Detroit News-WDIV poll surveyed 500 likely Republican primary voters from Feb. 11-13. The margin of error is 4.4 percentage points. 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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