Troy, Michigan (CNN) – Mitt Romney avoided questions Thursday about Rick Perry's now infamous mental lapse in the previous night's debate, instead focusing on his Michigan roots in a play for voters in a state that will be both a primary and general election battleground.
As the former Massachusetts governor worked the crowd after a rally inside a Polish Cultural Center in the Detroit suburb of Troy, he repeatedly declined to weigh in on Perry, who awkwardly failed to remember the third of the three federal agencies he would eliminate as president.
In the end, "Oops" was all Perry could muster.
"I was very pleased with the debate," Romney said. "I got most of my points across pretty well and that's what I've got to do… I've got to worry about me more than anybody else."
Romney said he had no plans to watch the "Late Show with David Letterman," where Perry will appear to deliver the Top Ten list in an effort to put a human face on the gaffe.
"I don't know where I'm going to be tonight," he said, though it was not clear if he knew Perry was going on the show. "Let's see, I may be able to, although it's usually … No, I'd better not play favorites on late night TV."
Romney's was trying to not to overshadow his message of the day: how much he loves Michigan, the state where he has born.
The campaign made sure the event was a family affair. Romney's niece, a local named Ronna Romney McDaniel, helped introduce her famous uncle.
Soon after, Ann Romney took a moment to remind the audience about how she and her husband shared roots in The Wolverine State.
When he took to the dais at the rally, Romney asked how many people in the room remembered his father George, the former governor and presidential candidate, and his mother Lenore, a former Senate candidate.
Nearly everyone in the room raised a hand.
"I love being in Michigan," Romney said, appearing in front of an enormous "Michigan For Mitt" poster. "Everything seems right here. You know I come back to Michigan. The trees are the right height. The grass is the right color for this time of year, sort of a brownish-greenish kind of thing. It just feels right."
Romney said his love for Michigan makes him committed to repairing the state's ailing economy and an unemployment rate of 11.1%.
"It breaks my heart, I got to tell you, to see this city the way I see it now," Romney said of a drive through Detroit earlier in the day. "I know what this city can be, and was."
He made no mention of the twin bailouts offered to the automobile industry by presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, popular recovery efforts that have even received praise from the state's GOP governor.
Instead he delivered a series of familiar attacks against Obama, whom he deemed incompetent on economic matters.
"Almost everything he did made it harder to turn this economy around," Romney said.
Michigan's Republican primary is set for February 28, 2012 - earlier than most primary contests but not as early as it was during 2008 cycle, when it was slotted immediately after New Hampshire.
Romney won that contest but it was not enough to overcome Arizona Sen. John McCain in their fight for the GOP nomination.
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