Mitt Romney on Tuesday downplayed the significance of a potential loss in the Michigan primary, telling Fox Business Network, “If I were turned down by Massachusetts, where I have lived for the last 40 years and served as governor, that would be a little harder to explain.”
Romney made the remark in an interview to be aired on the network at 6 p.m. Eastern. Voters in Michigan and Arizona both go to the polls Tuesday in the last two big contests before Super Tuesday.
Romney told Fox Business that he expects to win “soundly” in Arizona, where polls show him with a comfortable lead over former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). But the former Massachusetts governor left himself a little wiggle room in Michigan, where the two contenders are locked in a competitive race.
“I will pick up a lot of delegates in Michigan, whether I win or not; I would like to win in Michigan,” he said. “I think I will. But I will probably end up with two or three times as many delegates coming out of tonight as anybody else so that’s a victory and we’ll keep battling ahead.”
As some inside and outside the Republican Party float the idea of a brokered convention in Tampa this summer, Romney on Tuesday tamped down on the idea and suggested that the current four GOP hopefuls would have to “find a way to make it work amongst ourselves” rather than “hand this off to someone else after all the work we have done.”
“I don’t think there is any prospect of a brokered convention,” he said. “I can’t imagine the four candidates saying after a long process of fund-raising and campaigning for one to two years, that we are all going to step aside and give the nomination to someone else. We will surely find a way.”
As he did earlier Tuesday, Romney also slammed Santorum for a robocall his campaign has launched in Michigan urging Democrats to back Santorum in Tuesday’s GOP primary. Santorum has defended the call, which he argues was aimed at “conservative Reagan Democrats,” even though neither the word “conservative” nor the word “Reagan” appears in the ad.
“This is an effort to kidnap our primary process,” Romney said. “Republicans ought to be able to select the nominee we want. Clearly Democrats have concluded Rick Santorum is the easiest guy to run against Barack Obama, which is why they are telling Democrats to vote for him.”
He added that there’s “no question” Santorum’s campaign and the Obama campaign are working together.
“They probably haven’t communicated with one another, but they don’t need to,” Romney said. “They are all running the same robocalls trying to get Democrats to sign up in the Republican primary and telling them to vote for Rick Santorum.”
The White House was not asked about the robocalls during Tuesday’s White House briefing. And Santorum argued Tuesday that Romney “didn’t seem to complain” when independents and Democrats voted in the New Hampshire primary, which Romney won.
Asked about his comments that he won’t “light his hair on fire” in order to win over conservative voters, Romney told Fox Business, “There have been candidates in this race who have said things that are over the top; you have to show some degree of reason as you are dealing with the issues we face today.”
And he pushed back against speculation that his campaign and Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-Tex.) are working together.
“No of course not,” Romney said. “No one is going to tell Ron Paul what to say. We like each other. We don’t know each other extensively, but we get along just fine.”