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Campaign Briefs: 'Two Cadillacs' Backfire into Harsh Headlines for Romney

Obama spots add to TV blitz; Troy primary night party set; candidate's Brighton tale stars 'frugal dad.'

Patch presents a Michigan presidential campaign roundup.

'That's rich, literally'

Mitt Romney earns a point for openness, but risks losing it for over-sharing. "I like the fact that most of the cars I see (locally) are Detroit-made automobiles," he told Detroit Economic Club members on Friday. "I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck. Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually."

He was referring to his wife's 2007 and 2010 SRX models at their Massachusetts and California homes, aides explained. (Speech excerpt video embedded at right.)

The off-script remark created a bull's-eye too inviting to ignore. "That's rich, literally," ex-Detroiter Charles Blow writes in his New York Times column.

That was one poke among plenty, a headline sampling shows:

  • Mitt Romney's Cadillac flub one of many (Politico.com)
  • Romney's Cadillac Comment Highlights His Wealth (New York Times blog)
  • Romney Touts His Economic Plan, Wife's Cadillacs (National Journal)
  • Mitt Romney gushes about his cars in Detroit Economic Club speech (Los Angeles Times)
  • Romney Highlights His Wealth With Cadillac Line During Economic Speech (KTTV Fox 11 website in Los Angeles)
  • Mitt Romney's Wife Drives Two Cadillacs and a Gold Carriage (Comedy Centralnot a news site)

Slate blogger David Weigel thinks the kicks are unfair. "Shaming wealthy people for doubling up on luxury American cars doesn't make a ton of sense to me," he posts. "I've got news for you: If Romney wins the big job, he gets his own plane, and we pay for it.

Obama joins TV barrage 

Now for two messages about the other guy. President Obama's campaign and a group supporting him bought airtime last week so Michigan viewers wouldn't see only Republican ads.

A commercial from the Obama for America committee shows the four Republicans now running and criticizes their opposition to $82 billion in federal help for the auto industry. "When a million jobs were on the line, every Republican candidate turned their back," a narrator says. "Not him. ... Now a retooled, restructured industry is back."  

Priorities USA Action, a super-PAC (political action committee) allowed to get unlimited donations, attacks Romney’s business record and opposition to the General Motors and Chrysler bailout. It includes a video of Romney saying "let Detroit go bankrupt" and these lines from an announcer: "He made a fortune from companies he helped destroy. ... Are those the values we want in an American president?"

Each 30-second ad is attached to this report.    

Drinks, snacks, vote results

Troy-Clawson Republican Forum members will gather after polls close Tuesday to watch the voters' verdict. A free primary night event, open to the public, begins at 8 p.m. in restaurant, 4924 Rochester Rd. in Troy.

"It should be very exciting," said second-term Forum president Barbara Harrell, a Republican State Committee member from Troy who expects at least two dozen of her 40 members to attend.

The high-profile primary "puts Michigan in a good position to have influence," she told Patch, adding: "And here we originally thought this would be a ho-hum cake walk for our displaced hometown guy," referring to Mitt Romney's residency outside from Michigan since 1965. "It's good to see all the interest and attention."

As a gracious host, she mentioned that Tuesday's "first round will be on us."

Romney's family tale

At the end of a hectic week rolling through Michigan in a campaign-branded RV, with a debate detour by plane to Arizona, Mitt Romney was in a joking, nostalgic, off-the-cuff mood. "My dad was a very frugal man," began an anecdote at a Kalamazoo event, reports Wall Street Journal blogger Sara Murray. "And he checked all over for where the best deal was on a grave site. And he found a place in Brighton.

"We didn’t live in Brighton. It’s like, how did you pick Brighton, Dad? 'Well, best price I could find in the whole state.' "

Here's how he ended the reminiscence about George Romney of Bloomfield Hills, who died in 1995 at 88: "So if you’re looking for the best deal on a grave site, check Brighton. They got a good, got a good spot, and you’re near the former governor and the former first lady."

Clearly, he hammers the homegrown theme any way that works.

Where is everyone?

Long lines are unlikely at polling sites Tuesday, even though Republicans have a potentially pivotal contest with national impact.

"The one thing that's relatively certain is that most registered voters won't vote," columnist Jack Lessenberry writes in the latest issue of Metro Times. "Those who do turn up to vote in February tend to be the strongly committed and often stridently ideological, along with a few party faithful and a dwindling number who think voting in any election is their duty."

Four years ago, 18.8 percent of registered Michigan voters from both parties cast ballots – 869,300 in the Republican primary and 565,400 in the Democratic one. Mitt Romney led his party's field with 338,316 votes, followed by John McCain with 257,985. Romney earned 20 of the 30 delegates, while McCain rolled ahead to become the nominee.

Oakland legislator's choice

State Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, one of the House's most conservative members,

"My main reason is that I want a brokered convention," he told a Lansing newsletter, "but I also do think he'd do a good job as president."

Just two other Michigan Republican Caucus members back the former Pennsylvania senator.

Voices from the trail

  • "I want to thank Ford Field for making room for us." – Mitt Romney on Friday, addressing 1,200 people in 65,000-seat stadium
  • "I am not concerned with the ethical or moral implications of (Democrats) voting in the GOP primary and neither should you be. ... Savor the opportunity to cause problems for the other party." – Joe DiSano, Michigan Democratic political consultant and past aide to Congressman John Dingell, blogging in Huffington Post Detroit
  • "If history is the guide for Romney and Santorum, they have a 50-50 chance of getting the nomination if they win Michigan. The Republican candidate who won a competitive Michigan contest has gone on to be the GOP nominee three of six times since 1972." – Steve Mitchell, West Bloomfield pollster, in a Detroit News commentary
Herb Helzer February 27, 2012 at 10:03 PM
We shouldn't...except for the fact that the way Willard "Mitt" Romney said it was funny, and his campaign's awkward backpedaling to make the gaffe go away was funnier still. And, seen as just one star in a larger constellation of similar statements, it plays up the dominant theme about Romney: That he's an out-of-touch plutocrat (a 0.0001%-er) with no empathy for those Americans who've failed to amass a nine-figure net worth.
Herb Helzer February 27, 2012 at 10:16 PM
"Does The Patch has to be..." Are you trying to speak LOLcat? Seriously, this is an Elections blog. Right now, all the "news" is being made by the GOP candidates as they attack one other (personally and via proxy) and make gaffes. I can't guess at Alan Stamm's politics, other than that he -- like so many other journalists -- would rather report on the "horse race" than the issues.
Herb Helzer February 27, 2012 at 10:27 PM
1) Other Presidents didn't just go to their homes -- many an overseas trip by Presidents of both parties has included "touristy" stops. It's a polite nod to the host country, offering praise for some landmark or attraction they feel proud of. 2) Barack and Michelle Obama don't have a "Western White House," a ranch in Texas or private villas in Kennebunkport or Hyannis Port. All of which required untold millions of dollars to secure each and every time an earliler President would visit his "home." If you knew about those hidden costs, Les, would you find it just as "sickening?"
walden schmidt February 28, 2012 at 12:29 AM
If you think where the President spends his time while on vacation will make a difference, you don’t understand the problem…
Dale Behler August 23, 2012 at 11:12 PM
This is an example of more leftist media propaganda which zeros in on the GOP candidate and gives all Democrats, including Obama, a blanket free pass from any criticism during the election season. Anyone who thinks rich Democrats in Washington do not drive two luxury cars have buried their heads in the sand. Besides,, who really cares unless you are trying to trash Romney and the GOP? It is majoring in minors. How about all the exotic luxury vacations at taxpayer expense that the Obamas are constantly flying off to while our uneployment rate does not improve and the rotten economy stays in limbo?

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