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Campaign Briefs: Polls Now Show Virtually No Romney-Santorum Gap in Michigan

Detroit News calls foul on editing of editorial by Romney staff.

Rochester-Rochester Hills Patch presents Michigan presidential campaign roundups before the Republican primary Tuesday.

New numbers show tossup

A trio of statewide surveys gives cliché-cherishing writers a chance to reuse "razor-thin," "down to the wire" or "dead heat." We'll go with tight:

  • In a WXYZ/Detroit Free Press poll conducted by EPIC MRA and released Wednesday, Rick Santorum leads Mitt Romney 37 percent to 34 percent. With a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent, either candidate could win Michigan on Tuesday. The poll, which surveyed 400 people, found 10 percent support Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich got 7 percent. Of those polled, 45 percent said they could change their mind by Tuesday. “A high voter turnout favors Mitt Romney and a low voter turnout favors Rick Santorum," said Bernie Porn, Channel 7 pollster and president of EPIC MRA.
  • NBC News/Marist poll released Wednesday shows Mitt Romney is the choice of 37 percent of likely Republican primary voters, followed by Rick Santorum with 35 percent, Ron Paul at 13 percent and Newt Gingrich trails at 8 percent. The survey of 715 people, questioned Sunday and Monday, has an error margin of 3.7 percentage points.
  • Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS) shows Romney leading Santorum 32 percent to 30 percent among 420 likely Republican voters. Gingrich drew 9 percent support, followed by Paul at 7 percent. Twenty-two percent of respondents were undecided. The poll, reported in the Detroit Free Press, was done Monday by Mitchell Research/Rosetta Stone and has an error margin of 4.7 percentage points.

"Michigan is neck-and-neck," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the survey with NBC.

Those numbers may be as slippery as the ones showing sizable Santorum leads here earlier this month. "Polls in a primary contest are all but worthless, especially those taken more than a few days before the voting," veteran politics commentator Jack Lessenberry writes in Metro Times.

Ron Paul on TV and campuses

News flash: Michigan's primary isn't a two-man race. Ron Paul, a libertarian congressman from Texas, joined the TV ad barrage this week.

His half-minute spot, embedded above, attacks Santorum. "Is this dude serious?" asks an opening slide and voiceover. "Rick Santorum a fiscal conservative? Fake," the announcer and screen type say at the end.

Paul also plans the following events in Michigan before the primary:

  • Saturday: Mt. Pleasant speech at 6 p.m. in Central Michigan University's Plachta Auditorium in Warriner Hall. To enter at 5 p.m., register here. Others will be admitted at 5:30 p.m.
  • Sunday: Hudsonville meeting of West Michigan small business owners.
  • Monday: East Lansing speech at 4 p.m. in Michigan State University's Concert Auditorium.
  • Monday: Paul will speak at the  in Dearborn beginning at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. For more information or to register, .

A supporter at MSU, senior Ethan Davis, tells The State News that Paul is "the only candidate that can mobilize young people."

Unfair editing, newspaper says

The good news for Mitt Romney is an editorial endorsement Wednesday from The Detroit News, which says he has "the strongest resume of the four remaining Republican candidates."

The bad news is that the newspaper now criticizes his campaign for an "inappropriate" move – sending journalists a partial version of The News editorial that omits three sentences that begin this way: "We disagree with Romney on a point vital to Michigan — his opposition to the bailout of the domestic automobile industry."

Editorial Page Editor Nolan Finley told prominent journalism blogger Jim Romenesko: "They should have run the complete, original version. It's a bit inappropriate to edit out the mild criticism. The reader has no idea what they removed" and replaced with a series of periods to indicate excerpting.   

Trump air blitz for Romney

Donald Trump this week told broadcasters around Michigan why he endorsed Romney early this month. His call-in pitches began at WSGW news radio in the Flint-Saginaw market Monday and at WTCM in Traverse City the next day. On Wednesday, he was on WJR's Paul W. Smith Show from Detroit. And this morning, Trump planned to call Michael Patrick Shiels during his drive-time show on WJIM in Lansing.

"Trump has not been shy about his distaste for Santorum, who appears to be locked in a close race with Romney in Michigan — a high stakes contest for both candidates," reports ABC News blogger Michael Falcone, the network's deputy political director.

Romney lunch seats available

Tickets still are being sold if you want to hear Romney at Ford Field in downtown Detroit on Friday. The Detroit Economic Club peddles seats here for $100 or $55 for guests with a member. For that price, you get lunch as well as the candidate's speech during a program starting at 12:15 p.m.

Voices from the trail

  • "Mitt Romney is the best choice in the Michigan primary." – Detroit News editorial Wednesday
  • "Michigan will determine whether Mitt Romney’s superior money advantage and bigger organization is worth anything." – John Dickerson, Slate.com chief political correspondent
  • "You'll have Mittmageddon if he can't win the state where his father was governor. ... Some primaries have higher stakes than others and Michigan's is one of them." – John Avlon, CNN contributor on Tueday
  • "Reports show Romney is spending twice as much on media as Santorum and it would seem as though it is having an impact." – Steve Mitchell, West Bloomfield pollster, quoted in Michigan Information and Research Service newsletter
  • "People are seeing that (Santorum) is a viable candidate. I think his (student) supporters are growing." – Brenton Craggs, MSU senior 

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