UPDATE: Romney Supporters Eagerly Back Their 'Hometown Hero' After Close Win in Michigan
'I was confident we could come together today and take a giant step toward a brighter future,' Bloomfield-area native tells backers after a tense primary day.
NOVI – Mitt Romney was looking for a little home cooking, and he got it.
The son of former Michigan Gov. George Romney who was born and raised in Bloomfield Hills needed a win to stop surging opponent Rick Santorum and ease fears that he couldn’t take a state in which the economy is the issue. He ended up taking what many political pundits called a "must win" with 43 percent of the vote statewide and overwhelming support in Oakland and Wayne counties.
“It’s a big, big win and I just wanted to come down here and join the rally and the celebration,” Troy resident Bill McNeil said after leaving the ballroom where Romney gave his victory speech at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.
“I was a little worried earlier today when I saw the precinct I voted in empty, and there were rumors of Democrats trying to mess it up,” McNeil explained. “But I was really hoping he’d be in this race because we need a new direction.”
Romney's victory came, in part, with big margins of victory in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties. He finished with 50 percent of the vote in Oakland and again took the county by more than 20 percentage points. Unofficial results show that he swept both Bloomfield Hills precincts in overwhelming fashion and finished with 79 percent of the city's overall vote. In Bloomfield Township, Romney took all 32 precincts for roughly 71 percent of the total vote.
He won Macomb and Wayne counties each by roughly 9 percentage points.
Being from Michigan did make a difference for some new and previous Romney supporters at the polls Tuesday, but it didn’t outweigh the serious problems the country is facing compared with four years ago, said Cori Easley of Royal Oak.
“I supported him four years ago and I do now because the country is desperate for change,” she said.
Romney promised a lot of change during his primary night speech, which started shortly after Santorum spoke from Grand Rapids at about 10 p.m. A smattering of boos from the pro-Romney crowd filled the ballroom as Santorum appeared on television with rock music blaring in the background. But the jeers turned to cheers and chants of "Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!" when the former senator conceded the state.
“It was just a few weeks ago the pundits and pollsters were ready to count us out. I was confident we could come together today and take a giant step toward a brighter future,” Romney said.
“Thank you Michigan. This is the place I was born, the place where I was raised and Michiganders in this room, we consider you family.”
Romney didn’t mention Santorum or his other Republican by name and spent the rest of his speech targeting President Obama with his plans to cut taxes and reduce the federal deficit.
“My biggest priority will be about saving your job, not how to keep my own,” he pledged if voted into the White House. “Let’s finally get a tax plan that puts America back to work. I’ve got it and will put it in place.”
State Rep. Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township, said he hoped that message resonated with Michigan residents and citizens around the country who were watching Tuesday’s results with great interest.
“The biggest thing to take away is having less government that’s more efficient and focused on the people instead of the elected officials,” he said. “I think it was a great night for the party, for Mitt Romney and a great night for our state. Tonight showed we’re on the comeback and turning things around with our governor and who we want to be our president.”
Bloomfield Township Trustee Corinne Khederian said she expected it to be a close race all night, but was confident Romney would win.
She said she attended Monday’s rally in Royal Oak that featured Michigan recording artist Kid Rock, and sees a much different Romney than the candidate she supported in 2008.
“He was more relaxed than I’ve ever seen him and he’s confident in a way that’s really relating to people and that’s great to see,” Khederian said. “He’s getting better as a candidate.”