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UPDATE, Campaign Briefs: Polls Show Virtually No Romney-Santorum Gap in Michigan

Romney gets lackluster endorsement from Free Press while Detroit News calls foul on editing of editorial by Romney staff; Paul reaches out with commercials and college campus visits.

Patch presents Michigan presidential campaign roundups before the Republican primary Tuesday. 

Romney gets tepid endorsement from Free Press

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has won the endorsement of the Detroit Free Press, but it's a reluctant one. The headline: "Mitt Romney is best – but we urge him to recapture collaborative spirit.

After citing all the things about Romney it doesn't like, the Free Press says: "Romney, unlike the zealous Rick Santorum, the impulsive Newt Gingrich and the backward-thinking Ron Paul, is preferable to the rest of the field."

New numbers show tossup

A trio of statewide surveys gives cliché-cherishing writers a chance to reuse "razor-thin," "down to the wire" or "dead heat." We'll go with tight:

  • In a WXYZ/Detroit Free Press poll conducted by EPIC MRA and released Wednesday, Rick Santorum leads Mitt Romney 37 percent to 34 percent. With a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent, either candidate could win Michigan on Tuesday. The poll, which surveyed 400 people, found 10 percent support Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich got 7 percent. Of those polled, 45 percent said they could change their mind by Tuesday. “A high voter turnout favors Mitt Romney and a low voter turnout favors Rick Santorum," said Bernie Porn, Channel 7 pollster and president of EPIC MRA.
  • A NBC News/Marist poll released Wednesday shows Mitt Romney is the choice of 37 percent of likely Republican primary voters, followed by Rick Santorum with 35 percent, Ron Paul at 13 percent and Newt Gingrich trails at 8 percent. The survey of 715 people, questioned Sunday and Monday, has an error margin of 3.7 percentage points.
  • Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS) shows Romney leading Santorum 32 percent to 30 percent among 420 likely Republican voters. Gingrich drew 9 percent support, followed by Paul at 7 percent. Twenty-two percent of respondents were undecided. The poll, reported in the Detroit Free Press, was done Monday by Mitchell Research/Rosetta Stone and has an error margin of 4.7 percentage points.

"Michigan is neck-and-neck," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the survey with NBC.

Those numbers may be as slippery as the ones showing sizable Santorum leads here earlier this month. "Polls in a primary contest are all but worthless, especially those taken more than a few days before the voting," veteran politics commentator Jack Lessenberry writes in Metro Times.

Ron Paul on TV and campuses

News flash: Michigan's primary isn't a two-man race. Ron Paul, a libertarian congressman from Texas, joined the TV ad barrage this week.

His half-minute spot, embedded above, attacks Santorum. "Is this dude serious?" asks an opening slide and voiceover. "Rick Santorum a fiscal conservative? Fake," the announcer and screen type say at the end.

Paul also plans the following events in Michigan before the primary:

  • Saturday: Mt. Pleasant speech at 6 p.m. in Central Michigan University's Plachta Auditorium in Warriner Hall. To enter at 5 p.m., register here. Others will be admitted at 5:30 p.m.
  • Sunday: Hudsonville meeting of West Michigan small business owners.
  • Monday: East Lansing speech at 4 p.m. in Michigan State University's Concert Auditorium.
  • Monday: Paul will speak at the  in Dearborn beginning at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. For more information or to register, .

A supporter at MSU, senior Ethan Davis, tells The State News that Paul is "the only candidate that can mobilize young people."

Unfair editing, newspaper says

The good news for Mitt Romney is an editorial endorsement Wednesday from The Detroit News, which says he has "the strongest resume of the four remaining Republican candidates."

The bad news is that the newspaper now criticizes his campaign for an "inappropriate" move – sending journalists a partial version of The News editorial that omits three sentences that begin this way: "We disagree with Romney on a point vital to Michigan — his opposition to the bailout of the domestic automobile industry."

Editorial Page Editor Nolan Finley told prominent journalism blogger Jim Romenesko: "They should have run the complete, original version. It's a bit inappropriate to edit out the mild criticism. The reader has no idea what they removed" and replaced with a series of periods to indicate excerpting.   

Trump air blitz for Romney

Donald Trump this week told broadcasters around Michigan why he endorsed Romney early this month. His call-in pitches began at WSGW news radio in the Flint-Saginaw market Monday and at WTCM in Traverse City the next day. On Wednesday, he was on WJR's Paul W. Smith Show from Detroit. And this morning, Trump planned to call Michael Patrick Shiels during his drive-time show on WJIM in Lansing.

"Trump has not been shy about his distaste for Santorum, who appears to be locked in a close race with Romney in Michigan — a high stakes contest for both candidates," reports ABC News blogger Michael Falcone, the network's deputy political director.

Romney lunch seats available

Tickets still are being sold if you want to hear Romney at Ford Field in downtown Detroit on Friday. The Detroit Economic Club peddles seats here for $100 or $55 for guests with a member. For that price, you get lunch as well as the candidate's speech during a program starting at 12:15 p.m.

Voices from the trail

  • "Mitt Romney is the best choice in the Michigan primary." – Detroit News editorial Wednesday
  • "Michigan will determine whether Mitt Romney’s superior money advantage and bigger organization is worth anything." – John Dickerson, Slate.com chief political correspondent
  • "You'll have Mittmageddon if he can't win the state where his father was governor. ... Some primaries have higher stakes than others and Michigan's is one of them." – John Avlon, CNN contributor on Tueday
  • "Reports show Romney is spending twice as much on media as Santorum and it would seem as though it is having an impact." – Steve Mitchell, West Bloomfield pollster, quoted in Michigan Information and Research Service newsletter
  • "People are seeing that (Santorum) is a viable candidate. I think his (student) supporters are growing." – Brenton Craggs, MSU senior    
Lianne Mathie February 26, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Daryl, Fracking has brought the cost of natural gas supplies down this year and last, however it may be coming with some unintended consequences.There is more studying and debating but potentially,this method might come as too high a price. Here is just one article of many, http://www.propublica.org/article/scientific-study-links-flammable-drinking-water-to-fracking It does give one pause when your tap water can power your stove.My concern being that industry does not always police itself properly and not to long ago Ohio was dealing with this very issue. http://www.cleveland.com/science/index.ssf/2009/06/cuyahoga_river_fire_40_years_a.html That being said, what do you think our responsibility extends to as far as damaging or potentially damaging our environment ?What regulations do you think would be appropriate to strike that balance?
Daryl Patrishkoff February 26, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Erin, I hear and understand your points and they are valid, this is Black History Month and this ad is clearly pandering to that particular group. I do not like pandering by anyone regardless of what party they are in or represent. This is where the politicians talk out of both sides of their mouth and I do not trust them. That is why I was disturbed, but that is my view. I guess I hold the hard line and find pandering offensive and talking down to us as if we are less intelligent then they are. This clearly happens equally on all sides: liberal, conservative, middle, etc. For me the true measure of a politician is not what they say, it is what they do. I want to see their track record of failures and accomplishments. Most importantly, when they failed what did they do? I do not care about failure, I care about how they recovered and made “lemonade out of lemons”, that is a track record. Anyone who did anything in life understands that failure happens to anyone, failure is a great teacher, and it is a measure of a person on how they react after a failure. Success is a terrible teacher; it makes people think they are great, arrogance before the fall.
Daryl Patrishkoff February 26, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Lianne, These studies show the impact drilling has had in a few cases to the water source. Anytime you drill through the water table to get to the oil and natural gas below them you have to seal the well through the water table correctly. This is an engineering challenge and it is achievable. All of this gas is already trapped below the water table by a hard rock layer and that is how it is secured. This natural seal works until an earthquake breaks the rock layer and then the gas naturally come through and contaminate the water source. In sealing the well through the water table they have to put in the natural barrier of hard rock, a special mixture of cement. The engineering approach is using the natural method of securing the gas from the water source. Both the natural and manmade methods can fail, I suggest that if an earthquake breaks the seal in the manmade well it will also break the natural barrier and we still have a problem. We have 3 players that are a check and balance to the system. Well drillers need to follow the proven methods that create a safe well. Producers need to follow the proven methods and maintenance on the wells to create safe operations. Regulators need to write and enforce the regulations and certify it was done to the standard. In gulf oil spill we blamed the 2 private companies and never mentioned the government regulators who looked the other way and did not catch the flaws. Where is the regulators accountability?
Lianne Mathie February 26, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Daryl, My question ultimatey is what is the companies moral responsibility to the environment?We can point our fingers at the regulators that hopefully were fired after the BP debacle, but they are monitoring a process that the company is engaged in. Trade secret law has shields the companies from revealing all of the chemicals that they are injecting in to the wells.The aquifers once polluted are impossible to clean up.These natural wells that are a source of drinking water in land locked areas are forever contaminated.I would also like to mention that there is still some debate going on that the very chemicals being used are also lubricants to the shifting of unstable shale formations that cause the seismic activity. Ohio's Republican Governor just shut down fracking operations there. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/03/ohio-fracking-earthquakes_n_1182079.html Oddly enough it was Nixon who consolidated all of the various agency"s that now form the EPA.The article also goes on to state that there is shipping of waste water to other states for disposal.If these wells they rely on for fresh water become forever fouled.Where will these States go for fresh water? My guess is they will be looking north to our Great Lakes.That is why I have been keeping a eye on this method of gas extraction.
Daryl Patrishkoff February 26, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Lianne, Yes I believe the companies are responsible to do the right thing to protect the environment. They have a responsibility to do the right thing and the regulators have a responsibility to tell them the right things to do. The best scenario is when they both work together to write the regulation and then keep an eye on each other to comply. In my earlier reply in the Gulf oil spill all 3 parties were guilty and should pay a heavy price for doing the wrong things. My point was the governmental regulators got a free pass and I find that to be a big part of the problem. If we look at the nuclear power industry we have strong regulations and have complied with the inspections and that is why we have not had a terrible disaster. I am suggesting we know how to do this with tough engineering challenges; we can do it with fracking. Earlier you mentioned China will self destruct due to the environmental issues they are ignoring and it will be short term. May I present Mexico was in this position many years ago and has not self destructed yet, they continue to disregard the environment like the Chinese and are many years ahead of China. Mexico has continued to flourish and not self destructed. We agree, we need to protect the whole Earth within reason and in the US it presents a major global disadvantage. If this is the case why did we invest in off shore drilling in Brazil and tell them we want to be their best customer? Sounds like a case of NIMBY.

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