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January 7, 2008
Romney in Spin Cycle
What do you do if you're Mitt Romney, a candidate who at one time led New Hampshire by double digits and suddenly find yourself trailing the day before the votes are cast?
Spin, spin, spin like a Maytag washing machine:
Mitt Romney, a dominant favorite in New Hampshire just weeks ago, said Sunday that a "close second" to Arizona Sen. John McCain would be a significant feat on Tuesday. McCain's candidacy, left for dead last summer, was reviving even before the candidate's strong 3rd place finish in Iowa. Now he finds himself 5-7 points ahead of Romney in the latest polls.
The almost frantic downsizing of expectations for the former Massachusetts governor came as the candidate and his staff are publicly and privately preparing to explain away what would be a disheartening loss and shift to a last-ditch strategy predicated on his ability to outlast and outspend his rivals, according to sources inside the campaign.
"This is a must-win state for him," Romney said of McCain, in a Politico interview Sunday. "If he doesn't win here, I don't know where he is going to win. So for me it's can I catch John McCain — can I keep him from getting this?"
For Romney, it is a bitter pill. To see his hard work in Iowa and New Hampshire come to naught torpedoes his plan for winning the early primaries and coasting to victory. Now it's on to plan B - something no one is sure he has.
Romney must stay close to McCain so that he can come back next week and win the Michigan primary - the state of his birth. If he can't win there, people will start to wonder "Can he win anywhere?"