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2012: Romney vs. Santorum

“In a fight to be seen as the most fiscally conservative presidential candidate, Republicans Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have been attacking one another for requesting federal spending,” the Boston Globe writes. “Santorum, as Pennsylvania senator from 1995 to 2006, requested more than $1 billion in earmarks. Romney collected millions as Massachusetts governor and as the manager of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.”

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will endorse a candidate soon, he said at the Detroit Economic Club yesterday. “Mitt Romney, who was born in Michigan and won the state in 2008, endorsed Snyder for governor in the 2010 general election,” USA Today notes, adding, “The club will be playing host to GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum on Thursday and to Romney on Feb. 24. Romney's remarks to the club drew such big interest that the venue has been changed to Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions.”

GINGRICH: Stu Rothenberg argues that if Newt Gingrich really hates Mitt Romney so much, he should drop out. “…[I]t is becoming clear that if retribution is a high priority for Gingrich, then his obvious next step is to drop his presidential bid and endorse former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.” More: “Is his personal ambition so strong that he will remain in the race even though that will increase the chances that Romney will be nominated? Or is his bitterness and animosity toward the former Massachusetts governor so deep that he is willing to put aside his personal ambitions and yield the spotlight, in which he clearly revels? … So what’s worse to Gingrich, losing the nomination or watching Romney get it?”

National Review calls on Gingrich to drop out. “[I]t would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee,” the editors write of Gingrich, adding, “When he led Santorum in the polls, he urged the Pennsylvanian to leave the race. On his own arguments the proper course for him now is to endorse Santorum and exit.”

“Just three weeks after his stunning victory in South Carolina's primary made him the man of the hour in the state-by-state race for the Republican nomination, Gingrich is struggling to remain relevant,” Reuters adds.

The L.A. Times: “On a day packed with fundraising events to refuel his campaign, Newt Gingrich insisted Monday that he would not drop out of the GOP presidential contest even though polls show he is not now winning the argument against Rick Santorum that he is the best conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.”

Gingrich is working his home state by phone as he campaigns in California, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Gingrich held a conference call with Georgia supporters Monday to promote his weekend events in the Atlanta area: Friday night in Peachtree City, then Saturday in Forsyth County, Gwinnett County and Cobb County. “Tell your friends and neighbors we will have more town halls like this; early voting has started,” Gingrich said after taking questions on everything from the Obama administration loan for solar manufacturer Solyndra to drug testing for welfare recipients.

ROMNEY: He pens an op-ed in the Detroit News, explaining his support for "managed bankruptcy" at the time of the auto crisis. "The president tells us that without his intervention things in Detroit would be worse. I believe that without his intervention things there would be better. My view at the time — and I set it out plainly in an op-ed in the New York Times — was that "the American auto industry is vital to our national interest as an employer and as a hub for manufacturing." Instead of a bailout, I favored "managed bankruptcy" as the way forward. Managed bankruptcy may sound like a death knell. But in fact, it is a way for a troubled company to restructure itself rapidly, entering and leaving the courtroom sometimes in weeks or months instead of years, and then returning to profitable operation."

By the way, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says he will endorse in the next week in the GOP contest.

The Arizona Republic: “Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney rallied about 2,000 supporters in Mesa on Monday, as two national polls showed Romney neck and neck with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. … Romney at times struggled to talk over a small but vocal group of protesters outside the Mesa Amphitheatre who were calling on Romney to reverse his opposition to the Dream Act.” Also notable: “A win in the Arizona primary would secure for Romney all 29 of the state's available delegates,” which is why Santorum is choosing to focus on Michigan, which is proportional.

“Woof woof. A group of ‘Dogs against Romney’ plan to gather outside the Westminster dog show at Madison Square Garden tomorrow,” the Boston Globe writes. “Their beef? A 1983 incident when Romney put the family dog, Seamus, on the roof of his station wagon for a 12-hour drive from Boston to Ontario. Seamus was in a dog carrier with a windshield – but the canine story would dog Romney for years. Dogs against Romney, is the brainchild of Scott Crider, an Alabama online marketing and social media specialist and lifelong dog owner, who was shocked to read about Seamus in 2007.”

SANTORUM: Much of the buzz is with Santorum. The New York Post notes his lead in a robo poll in Michigan and his vaulting to near the top of two national polls: “These polls delivered a stinging reminder to Romney that the race for the Republican presidential nomination is far from over and that the ex-Massachusetts governor still can’t convince the conservative GOP base that he’s its man.”

And now it’s a THIRD national poll: “A New York Times/CBS News poll released Tuesday morning showed Mr. Santorum surging among Republican primary voters nationwide, lifted by support among conservatives, evangelical Christians and Tea Party supporters. In the new poll, 30 percent of Republican primary voters say they support Mr. Santorum, compared with 27 percent for Mr. Romney.”

But he had a tough go of it in Washington state yesterday ahead of that state’s primary. On the day gay marriage was signed into law in the state, Santorum found himself fighting to be heard at a rally in Tacoma. “The former Pennsylvania senator was cheered by the largest public outdoor rally in Western Washington that a Republican White House hopeful has seen in years.  But Santorum fought to make himself heard over chants from protesters,” the Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes, adding, “The Santorum rally, at the Washington State History Museum, was the state's the most raucous political event since conservative talk radio activists provided a loud bump in the 1994 Hillary Clinton health care caravan. But the Clinton visit came in an era before glitter bombing, which Santorum experienced for the second time in a week, and chants of ‘We are the 99 percent.’”