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2012: All eyes on Michigan

“After two weeks in the headlights of the national hunt for a Republican presidential candidate, Michigan voters go to the polls today, and the outcome could help determine whether the grinding slog continues or Republicans finally start to rally around one candidate,” the Detroit Free Press writes.

The Detroit News: “After weeks of campaigning, attack ads and robocalls, it's now time for Michigan voters to decide who will be the state's favorite for the GOP nomination for president.”

The GOP primary today gets just a little bit of real estate on the front page of today's Arizona Republic. (A little more below the fold for the Daily Star.)

“Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney yesterday accused each other of being unfit for the Republican presidential nomination in the finale to a primary vote today that could reshape the contest once again,” the Boston Globe says. “Santorum called Romney ‘uniquely unqualified’ to be the nominee, saying his rival’s Massachusetts health care plan would hinder Republicans from criticizing President Obama’s similar federal plan. He also again described Romney’s claim of conservatism as laughable. ‘Michigan, you have the opportunity to stop the joke,’ Santorum said. Romney, for his part, called Santorum ‘a nice guy but he’s never had a job in the private sector. . . . I think to create jobs it helps to have a guy as president who’s had a job.’”

The Hill: “Tuesday’s contests in Michigan and Arizona couldn’t come soon enough for the Republican candidates, all four of whom emerged bruised and visibly depleted by the most recent stretch of the campaign.”

(The Hill also notes that some Democrats are convinced Romney will be the nominee and then pick Marco Rubio, and that they are targeting him now.)

PAUL: At his third and final campaign event of the day, Ron Paul spoke to a “Doctors for Ron Paul” rally in Dearborn, MI inside the Ford Community and Performing Art Center that sat over 1,400 people and was at capacity, NBC’s Anthony Terrell reports.  An overflow room was opened up that event management said had over 1,000 people watching Paul on a screen.

The majority of the audience was Muslim Americans, many women in head scarfs, and cheered Paul’s message of civil liberties and ending wars overseas.  He told the crowd Israel shouldn’t have to ask for permission from the United States on peace treaties and their borders, then explained why America’s involved so often in the Middle East. “Part of the reason we get involved over there has to do with Israel. … To tell you the truth, I think Israel can take care of themselves, they have nuclear weapons and are a powerhouse. … This idea that we have to be trapped and we have to pay the bills and we have to be vulnerable, I just don’t think is the right way to do it.”

ROMNEY: Romney predicted victory. The AP: “‘I'm going to win in Michigan and I'm going to win across the country,’ Romney told the 1,000 or so supporters who crowded into the Royal Oak Music Theatre on Monday night for his last rally before voting began Tuesday.”

The Washington Post: “Just as Mitt Romney is aiming to add to his delegate lead in the Republican primary race with strong showings in Arizona and Michigan, his popularity among conservatives nationally is fading, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Only 38 percent of ‘very conservative’ Americans now express favorable views of the former Massachusetts governor. That’s his lowest mark of the campaign among staunch conservatives – a group he’s also struggled with in previous contests – and down 16 percentage points over the past two weeks.”

Romney told FOX he thought Santorum robocalling Democrats encouraging them to vote was a “dirty trick,” Political Wire notes.

“Mitt Romney stumped across Michigan yesterday in an all-out effort to stave off what would be a humiliating loss to Rick Santorum in Romney’s native state,” the New York Post writes, adding, “At a later event, Romney brought out Michigan musician Kid Rock to perform his anthem ‘Born Free’ to a crowd in Royal Oak. But unlike in Florida, where he had the luxury of virtually ignoring his rivals in the campaign’s final hours, Romney laced into his top opponent yesterday.”

The Boston Globe: “The campaign put in a formal request for Kid Rock to come play for a rally. The bad boy musician wanted to meet Romney first. So several days ago, before going to speak at a Tea Party gathering, Romney jumped into an SUV and rode to the singer’s home in suburban Detroit. The unlikely duo spent an hour together, talking about several issues. Then, matters turned to negotiations of sorts. ‘He put a piece of paper in front of me,’ Romney said. ‘He’d written down some questions for me.’ He wanted to know if Romney would help both Michigan and Detroit. Romney replied that he would. ‘Then I turned to him,’ Romney said. ‘And I said, ‘By the way, given the fact that I’m willing to do those things, will you come here and perform a concert tonight for my friends?’”

The Globe also notes that Romney at one point joined in waving his arms to the music with the crowd.

Not a good headline from the Globe: “Mitt Romney remembers Detroit celebration from before he was born.” From the story: “The discrepancy, first cited by the Toronto Star, is not the first time Romney got an event wrong about his early childhood. In 2007, Romney had to acknowledge that he had not watched his father march with Martin Luther King Jr., as he had asserted in a nationally televised debate. Romney said at the time that his father had told him that he had marched with King and that he was using the word ‘saw’ in a ‘figurative sense.’”

GOP 12: “Mitt Romney attended an automotive event before he was born.”

Will this advice help connect with blue-collar voters? The Hill headline: “Trump: Romney will win Michigan, should embrace wealth.”

“The Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the commission to request further inquiries into Restore Our Future’s paid television spots using a 2008 Romney campaign ad. The center said this action is breaking the law because super-PACs are not allowed to make direct or in-kind contributions to candidates, including re-publishing campaign materials ‘prepared by a candidate,’” The Hill reports.

SANTORUM: “Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum is courting an unusual coalition of tea party activists, social conservatives and Democrats to try to defeat Mitt Romney in Michigan's GOP primary,” AP writes, adding, “the Santorum campaign used automated telephone calls to encourage Michigan Democrats to vote against the former Massachusetts governor. Only declared Republicans may vote in Tuesday's GOP primary, but party rules allow voters to change their affiliation temporarily on the spot.” More: The robocall “says Democrats should send ‘a loud message’ to Romney by voting for Santorum.”

The Free Press notes of those Santorum robocalls: "The calls don’t mention that Santorum also opposed the bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler. The Obama campaign has targeted Romney repeatedly for his opposition to the government bailouts of the automakers."

“When Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum calls President Barack Obama ‘a snob’ for urging more Americans to attend college, he may be out of step with the public's overall view of higher education,” AP education writer Kimberly Hefling writes. “Many Americans are suspicious of the culture of academia, and most are angry about rising costs. But they overwhelmingly -- and increasingly -- agree that higher education is important and aspire to it for themselves and their children.”