Romney acknowledges mistakes
February 28th, 2012
11:19 AM ET
10 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. Andrew

    "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."


    Romney is on both sides of every issue. I bet if Lighting Hair on Fire was in right now, he would definitely do it if he thought thats what his supporters wanted to see.

    February 28, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  2. Andrew

    He won't? Did he not say in the AZ Debate that if Obama is re-elected, Iran will use nuclear weapons on Israel?
    That's not incendiary?

    February 28, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    '....Romney called Santorum an "economic lightweight"......'
    I have been saying that all along. Economics are one of Santorum's weak spots, which is why he doesn't talk about it much or get into any details when he does. Santorum's worst weak spot is foreign policy. Yeah, he talks tough. But, have you ever heard him discuss anything, anything at all, foreign policy related that didn't involve fighting against Islamics?

    February 28, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |

    "I'm going to win in Michigan and I'm going to win across the country,"
    Quit fooling yourself Willard. If you lose today, it's over! I'd love to relive that moment from 4 years when you walk off in disappointment after Huckabee beat you in the primaries. Your 1% remarks do not sell with majority of Americans. And people have the nerve to call the Vice President a gaffe machine. Ha! you give gaffes a whole new meaning.

    February 28, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  5. The Real Tom Paine

    This coming from the man who has used more negative ads in his campaign than all of his opponants combined? Please, it shows how grossly unprepared he was to run a campaign, and it shows his penchant for making bad decisions, a bad trait in a prospective president.

    February 28, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  6. Tea Party Dem

    a step in the right direction, a problem i have had with mitt for some time now, not admitting his mistakes. recommend he go thru the list, have done with it, ask for understanding, and move on.

    no matter what you think of him, he is better than mcShame.

    February 28, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. Woman In California

    "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."

    Yes, and it's who you are that I don't want. Ever.

    I would love to see Willard lose Michigan just to bring his arrogance down a notch. IF the people of Michigan are smart (and I think they are) they will KICK Willard to the curb and send him a message loud and clear that they are NOT ignorant and in need of his sleazy style of leadership.

    February 28, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  8. king

    oohh mitten a man that will do, say and spend until kingdom come to get nominated. the reason why romney is not battling santarum on social issue, because he know he will lose mightily, folks would see his fake butt comiing clear around the corner before even opening his mouth. santorum is a religious zealot from way back. romney is about finding ways to make money, no matter how ethical or unpatriotic it is.

    February 28, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. Skitownrefugee

    Come on Romney light my fire – try to set my hair on fire – try to set my hair on F-I-RRRRRR-E – Yeaaaaaaah!

    What are these stupid, idioc, hypocritical, morons all talking about. I wouldn't hire any one of these guys to rake my yard because they can't concentrate on the tasks at hand and are all number than a 2 x 4. What – I ask are they all talking about? These aren't real presidential candidates are they?

    February 28, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "the dirty tricks of a desperate campaign"

    You mean like quoting someone who is quoting someone else but pretending the words were really those of the person you're know, even though he was actually quoting someone else when he said it?

    February 28, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  11. cali girl

    Rmoney just can't be trusted. Not that Santo is any better. There is no telling what either would do if a national crises came about, if another 9/11 God forbid. What would these goofs do? I will always remember what Dubya did, sat there, did nothing, and had no idea what to do. All the while it was televised.

    February 28, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. ST

    Oh! Romney just sit there wherever you are and wait to witness your political disaster. Losing Michigan will be kept in records if you lose tonight!

    February 28, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "I am who I am.""

    "...which is to say, who do you want me to be?"

    February 28, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. Timothy

    Typical MORMON double-speak. When caught doing something, apologize, pinky promise, then continue.

    Mormon Romney learned this Mormon Morality growing up, and it shows in the recent, reoccurring Mormons baptizing the Jewish Holocaust victims.

    Caught, apologize, pinky promise, break promise and do it again, and again, and again.

    Mormon Romney represents the snobs of the Mormon elites, those Mormon snobs are trying to buy the American White House in order to fulfil the WHITE HORSE PROPHECY of only A MORMON can save the United States.

    Vote Against A Mormon America.


    February 28, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    ""I don't care how hard you ask. It would be a big fire, I assure you.""

    No kidding. I'm pretty sure the only place I've seen more processed petroleum product other than Mittens' do is off shore LA.

    February 28, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  16. diridi

    Romney is so desperate. Ha. Bain Capital, Shipped jobs to China. Loot and cheat. No way GOP....No way. Obama2012.

    February 28, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  17. mk1

    His first and greatest mistake was ever thinking he had what it took to become President. His second mistake was entering the race. It is really pretty simple when one thinks about it.

    February 28, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. B

    We don’t need a President that does not understand communication 101.

    Can you just imagine Romney,in a Foreign Policy dilemma saying the first thing that pops into his head and outraging people in the process?

    He needs to stick to his – day job..

    February 28, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  19. Larry

    He needs to: 1. never sing America the Beautiful again
    2. stop coming up with memorable moments with his father that never happened
    3. tell Ann to really do the debates for him
    4. put those bluejeans back into the washing machine w/o any of his sons taking a photo of him
    5. forget about trying to look hip--he can't rock–trust Ann Coulter on that one.

    February 28, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. FedUp

    Oh, poor baby! He can use dirty tricks and everything is just fine. But let anyone else turn the tables on him and he needs a little cheese with his whine. What a joke!

    February 28, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  21. DBA

    "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."


    And so, Willard Romney completely disses the base of the GOP. Is he sure he really wants the job he's been running after for the past six years? Maybe he's as divided on that as he is on everything else.

    [Not that I care. Obama 2012–the adult in the race.]

    February 28, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  22. Laverne

    They both are full of dirty tricks! Romney is just as bad as Santorum and the one main thing they have in common is neither have a vision for America's future. I will say Santorum is nuttier and crazier though!

    February 28, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  23. Claudia, Phoenix, AZ

    The Republicans made the biggest mistake of all in 2008 when they allowed Palin to dig their ditch and throw dirt on top of them. It's hard to dig out of a big hole if you don't acknowledge the reasons that got you there and continue on the same path.

    February 28, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  24. Luke

    Take some time and study the Mormon faith, you will be quite surprised at what they believe.

    February 28, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "Can you just imagine Romney,in a Foreign Policy dilemma saying the first thing that pops into his head and outraging people in the process?"'s either that or he'll just say "tell me what you want me to say and I'll say it" and have all sorts of foreign leaders lose all respect for the POTUS.

    February 28, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
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