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Santorum: Romney win narrow; Romney: still a win

By Philip Elliott
Associated Press / February 29, 2012
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WASHINGTON—Some remarkable moments from Tuesday's primaries in Michigan and Arizona:

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Rick Santorum cast Mitt Romney's close win in Michigan as a sign "it's a two-person race" while his rival downplayed the slim margin.

"This was going to be Romney's night. The question is how big," Santorum told reporters as he left his campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Mich. "It wasn't very big."

But it was sufficient to derail Santorum's momentum after a trio of recent wins, Romney countered.

"We didn't win by a lot. But we won by enough," Romney told his supporters in Novi, Mich.

Santorum and Romney had been locked in a bitter fight in Michigan, the state where Romney spent his childhood and where his father served three terms as governor. Romney and his allies blanketed the airwaves with ads that left Santorum unable to respond.

Yet, the results were close and Santorum's advisers said the delegate allocation from the voting would be close enough not to matter who came out on top of the vote tally.

"I think it's pretty clear now, it's a two-person race," Santorum said.

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ROMNEY COMES HOME

As much as Mitt and Ann Romney highlighted their ties to Michigan, it's worth noting that George Romney won his third term as the state's governor in 1966. That means only voters in their late 50s or older would have any memory of the Romney administrations -- not exactly fresh memories for Romney to exploit.

George Romney won his first election in 1962 after leading Detroit's American Motors Corporation. He won two more two-year terms before an unsuccessful run for president in 1968. He later joined Richard Nixon's Cabinet as his housing and urban development secretary.

Mitt Romney hadn't lived in the state since high school. He graduated from Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., in 1965 and attended California's Stanford University that fall. His father delivered his high school commencement address.

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GINGRICH CONCEDES EARLY

Even before the voting was over, Newt Gingrich was telegraphing defeat and trying to look forward to his firewall of Georgia.

"I think whatever the outcome tonight, the race is going to go on," Gingrich told CNN even as voters were still casting ballots. "I think Romney has much more at stake than Santorum does. If Romney loses Michigan, it's hard to understand the rationale for his campaign, because it was never built on ideas, it was built on the idea that he was inevitable. And you can't lose your home state and be inevitable."

It's a lesson he was taking to heart. Gingrich, who represented Georgia in Congress, was looking to camp out in his former home state. He planned only one day out of it -- a trip to Ohio -- before Tuesday's vote in 10 states.

"We have to pick up delegates in a number of states and we unequivocally have to win Georgia," Gingrich said. "But we have to gain delegates in a number of states and I think we will. ... We, frankly, made a decision that we'd put our resources into next Tuesday and beyond and recognize that we weren't in a position to compete head-to-head in Michigan."

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INFO-NEWT

Although Gingrich planned to de camp to Georgia for most of the next week, he also planted on Tuesday an aggressive advertising flag in Ohio with a 30-minute infomercial on energy.

Gingrich's campaign announced the "$2.50 per Gallon Gasoline, Energy Independence and Jobs" infomercial would air on the Ohio News Network a total of five times during primetime. The network reaches 1.5 million homes.

Gingrich previously announced the commercial would air in Spokane, Wash., Tulsa, Okla., and Macon, Ga.

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REBRANDING PATRIOT ACT

Ron Paul pledged that he would repeal the sweeping Patriot Act that his supporters loathe. His strategy for winning over supporters of the law that has the support of the GOP leadership: old-fashioned rebranding.

During a campaign speech that didn't note his rivals, he predicted a bipartisan revolution would sweep Washington as like-minded voters would pressure lawmakers to support a "Restore the Fourth Amendment Act in This Country" bill. Paul and his supporters claim the Patriot Act infringes on civil liberties guaranteed in the Constitution's Fourth Amendment.

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FROM THEIR MOUTHS:

-- "We've got two sons out there that are celebrating with them (in Arizona). Great thing about having so many in our family, we can cover almost every race," Romney said of his five sons. "So Super Tuesday, we'll be stretched, but we're going to find a way."

-- "I'm proud that I have a daughter here in Elizabeth who is a great part of our campaign," Santorum said. "She goes out on her own and campaigns, and the feedback I get is, `You stay home; just send Elizabeth out. You'll do just fine.'"

-- "By the way, none of us were math majors and none of us had studied physics," Gingrich said of an ill-fated attempt to cut down a neighbor's tree. "If we'd been in physics we would have figured out. It was a really big tree. It probably weighed 12,000 or 15,000 pounds. And as big as we thought we were, our collective weight was probably at that point about 500 pounds. ... You got 500 pounds going this way, you've got 15,000 pounds leading this way. It turns out, when the tree breaks, it doesn't matter that you're pulling it. It's going to go in the direction that the tree's leaning."

-- "I'm going to forget my speech," Paul told supporters who interrupted him with hollers. "What am I going to do?"

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