Romney fumbles his way forward

 

Phoenix, Arizona

Blemished by a botched rally in a near-empty Detroit stadium and an unfortunate boast about his collection of cars, Mitt Romney was last night stumbling towards primary contests in two key American states on Tuesday that could determine the future of his quest for the Republican nomination.

There will be little disguising the depth of the disaster for Mr Romney if he fails to recover his winning form in Arizona, the scene of last week's last ill-tempered debate, and in Michigan, where he was born.

He has had help at least from his principle foe, Rick Santorum, who failed to rise to the occasion at the debate. The polls show Mr Romney just pipping Mr Santorum in Michigan and widening the gap in Arizona. Minding the rear in both states are Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

But just when Mr Romney needed to persuade voters that he alone has the gravitas to take on Barack Obama, he fumbled on Friday, delivering an economics speech in Ford Field in Detroit, where the audience of 1,200 looked embarrassingly puny in a venue for 64,000.

It underscored the impression that Mr Romney may be only the best of a bad bunch, rather than a visionary able to set the country on fire. Nor did it help when he attempted to endear himself to "Motortown" by revealing he drives a "Mustang and a Chevy" and that his wife "drives a couple of Cadillacs". Rather it emphasised his family's unusual wealth.

Prevailing this Tuesday will also be crucial for resetting the psychology of the race in time for "Super Tuesday", the following week, when 10 states vote.

Even then, however, Mr Romney's climb may be steep. The rules in Michigan mean he might get the most votes but not the largest number of delegates, because they are awarded by district; in the hinterland beyond Detroit, Mr Santorum may win the district count. Moreover, the results from Super Tuesday might be mixed, with Mr Gingrich expected to regain traction in the South and Mr Santorum showing strength in Ohio and Oklahoma.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Stencil graffiti depicting slain cartoonists, from left; Wolinski, Cabu, Charb and Tignous, on a wall near the Paris headquarters of 'Charlie Hebdo' (Getty)
newsMurdered Charlie Hebdo editor's defiant, impassioned final work
News
peopleHe really doesn't like the Tories
Life and Style
food + drink
Sport
football
Life and Style
Could what you wear affect your job prospects?
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
News
Ukip council candidate Peter Endean poses with leader Nigel Farage
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Inspection, Inventory and Maintenance Clerk

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Executive - OTE £50,000

£19000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Executive is re...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Financial Accountant

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company was established in ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate / Junior Web Developer

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Ed Miliband interview: 'There is only one party standing up for the integrity of the UK'

'There is only one party standing up for the integrity of the UK'

Ed Miliband talks zero hours contracts, non-doms and the NHS
Libya's criminals undermine attempts to prop up a collapsing state

Libya's criminals undermine attempts to prop up a collapsing state

It's not just people-smuggling rackets, reports Patrick Cockburn
Global warming: Experts say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100, with cataclysmic results

Scorched Earth?

Scientists fear 6C rise in temperature by 2100 - with cataclysmic results
Miriam Gonzalez Durantez: Lawyer, wife of Nick Clegg and a secret food blogger

Miriam Gonzalez Durantez

Lawyer, wife of Nick Clegg and a secret food blogger
Charlie Hebdo editor's final book: 'Letter to the Islamophobia Frauds Who Play into the Hands of Racists'

Terror couldn't silence him, and nor will death...

Murdered Charlie Hebdo editor's defiant, impassioned final work
General Election 2015: On the campaign trail in Rochdale – the town globalisation left behind

On the campaign trail in Rochdale

The town globalisation left behind
Bugsy Malone is back: Plenty of splurge guns but no twerking teens

Bugsy Malone is back

There's plenty of splurge guns but no twerking teens in the Lyric Theatre's reopening production
Should we be drinking milk? Arguments for and against dairy

Should we be drinking milk?

Arguments for and against dairy
Ivor Novello awards 2015: Meet James Napier, the backroom hitmaker for Sam Smith and Clean Bandit

Meet James Napier

The backroom hitmaker for Sam Smith and Clean Bandit is the hottest name in pop you've never heard of
14 best girls' summer dresses

14 best girls' summer dresses

Whether they're on the beach in the south of France or in the garden at nan's house, there's a dress to keep them cool, comfortable and looking fabulous
David Haye interview: Thought of Las Vegas lures Haye back to the ring

Thought of Las Vegas lures Haye back to the ring

Having overcome an injury that seemed to have ended his career, the heavyweight realised there were things left undone – a fight at the spiritual home of boxing
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time