Romney acknowledges mistakes
February 28th, 2012
11:19 AM ET
11 years ago

Romney acknowledges mistakes

Livonia, Michigan (CNN) - The morning after confidently declaring he would win Michigan's primary, on Tuesday Mitt Romney acknowledged a series of gaffes had damaged his effort and downplayed expectations for the voting results in the state where he was born.

Romney accused former Sen. Rick Santorum of using "the dirty tricks of a desperate campaign" after Santorum's team encouraged Michigan Democrats to support him in the state's open primary. Romney said the effort could hurt him when the votes are tallied Tuesday night.

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"I think the hardest thing about predicting what's going to happen today is whether Senator Santorum's effort to call Democrat households and tell them to come out and vote against Mitt Romney is going to be successful or not," Romney told reporters at his campaign headquarters in Livonia during his first press conference in almost three weeks. "I think Republicans have to recognize there's a real effort to kidnap our primary process."

The GOP candidate spent the past week campaigning across Michigan, where the two campaigns have bombarded the airwaves with negative advertisements and polls still showed the men running neck-and-neck.

But seeking to draw a contrast between himself and his Republican opponents, Romney called Santorum an "economic lightweight" and said he would not "light my hair on fire" and espouse extreme positions in order to galvanize disaffected Republicans.

"It's very easy to excite the base with incendiary comments," Romney said. "I'm not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support. I am who I am."

Santorum has drawn the support of some social conservatives with impassioned remarks on issues such as abortion and religion in the public sphere – issues Romney tends to shy away from instead keeping his focus on the economy.

When pressed by reporters, Romney acknowledged he had hurt his campaign with a series of comments in which he seemed to casually flaunt his wealth. Over the past several days, Romney mentioned his wife drives "a couple of Cadillacs" and told an Associated Press reporter he has friends who are NASCAR team owners.

A reporter asked if these remarks had hurt him.

"Yes," Romney said. "Next question."

The press conference was a dramatic turnaround from a triumphant final rally Monday night, which drew roughly one thousand enthusiastic supporters as well as famed Detroit rocker Kid Rock.

"I'm going to win in Michigan and I'm going to win across the country," Romney told the audience and asked for their votes.

Despite his stated concerns, Romney seemed at ease Tuesday, joking with campaign volunteers and reporters at his campaign headquarters.

When a staffer suggested the candidate might want to begin taking questions from the press, Romney quipped "no" while he picked up the microphone.

Later, a reporter followed up on his refusal to "light my hair on fire."

"I'm not going to do it," Romney joked about his famous coif, to laughter. "I don't care how hard you ask. It would be a big fire, I assure you."

Also see:

Romney's special guest: Kid Rock

Romney hits Santorum robo calls as 'new low' in campaign

Gingrich zeroes in on Santorum in the South

Santorum robo call to Democrats: Send a message to Romney

Filed under: 2012 • Michigan • Mitt Romney • Rick Santorum
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Voice of Reason

    I LOVE hearing this kind of stuff. The GOP is tearing itself apart. Like greedy corporate raider barons fighting over what's left of a bankrupt company, the GOP 'hopefuls' continue to eat each other alive. Each one thinks that if they are just nasty enough, they will prevail.

    But at what cost? If the pack of Hyenas keeps this up – eventually the carcass spoils and all they're left with is the rotting meat of what used to be the GOP. Hope they're hungry, 'cause this 'republican roadkill' is all they're going to get.

    February 28, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. Gina

    LOL Got to love Willard for whining (at Fox, of course) that Santorum played him the same dirty trick he played in Massachussetts in the 1990's. How does karma-coming-around feel to you Willard?

    February 28, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. Mario

    A report surfaced today that Romney admitted in the past he himself voted in Democratic primaries for who he thought would be the weaker general election candidate. Oh Mittens, will your flip-flopping ways ever cese to amaze!

    February 28, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. V in Chicago

    Let's keep this simple. Want an America you can be proud of? Obama 2012!

    See how easy that was?

    February 28, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. Jane

    The Romney cabal is going to blame Democrats voting for Santorum, if he loses in Michigan, and not any of their candidates obvious failings. In other news, water is wet and the sun came up in the East this morning.

    February 28, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  6. Kansan

    Maybe if you didn't say bizarre, moronic stuff like "...the trees are the right height here..." you might not be flailing so badly.

    February 28, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |

    Sniffit – That Quote the quoter on qoutes is a good one!!! What's good for the goose mitt...

    February 28, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Mitt Romney is doing it again. He's sounding like that nerdy kid at school that nobody wanted to be around because he was different in an innocent way; like coming from a wealthy family.

    February 28, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. Miranda

    The issues are jobs and the economy. Romney can get us back on track and prosper. Santorium sticks to social issues because thats all he knows. He is a social conservative. We already have someone that focuses on his own agenda and social issues and thats Obama. We need someone who will focus on us....the people, and thats Romney. As a native Michigander I hope we will come thru for Romney. Lets keep religion seperate Santoruim. Seperation of Church and State. Romney 2012

    February 28, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. Marie MD

    Sonthe flip floppef makes mistakes and boy has he made plenty of them lately.
    Did he ever apologize to his dog for strapping him on the roof of his car on that long trip from Boston to Toronto?

    February 28, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Mark, ON

    If anyone thinks for a second as a neutral person (not being democrat or republican) and considers who will be the best president for US, they will find the answer. We always think in a way is that whoever is from my own party is better than the other guy. We have to remember, nobody will change our personal lives (other than their own), but if we choose the best one, at least the country as a whole will be benefitted. Otherwise, it will get worse.

    So sit back and think who is the best among all. It will be easy to decide. Just forget about your bias.

    February 28, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC


    Sniffit – That Quote the quoter on qoutes is a good one!!! What's good for the goose mitt...
    "I yam, what I yam. I'm Popeye, the sailor man!" I believe Romney just topped Cain.

    February 28, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
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