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Romney Says Gaffes Hurt Him

Intrade is still giving Mitt Romney a 55 percent chance of winning Michigan tonight. But imagine what those internal campaign polls look like if Romney’s holding a press conference like this the day of the primary:

The morning after confidently declaring he would win Michigan’s primary, on Tuesday Mitt Romney acknowledged a series of gaffes had damaged his effort and downplayed expectations for the voting results in the state where he was born. …

When pressed by reporters, Romney acknowledged he had hurt his campaign with a series of comments in which he seemed to casually flaunt his wealth. Over the past several days, Romney mentioned his wife drives “a couple of Cadillacs” and told an Associated Press reporter he has friends who are NASCAR team owners.

A reporter asked if these remarks had hurt him.

“Yes,” Romney said. “Next question.”

Romney’s also setting the stage for a loss by continuing to suggest that Democratic dirty tricks would be responsible for a Santorum victory:

“I think the hardest thing about predicting what’s going to happen today is whether Senator Santorum’s effort to call Democrat households and tell them to come out and vote against Mitt Romney is going to be successful or not,” Romney told reporters at his campaign headquarters in Livonia during his first press conference in almost three weeks. “I think Republicans have to recognize there’s a real effort to kidnap our primary process.”

It’s certainly possible that high Democratic turnout could push Santorum over the top. Democrats participating in the primary are supporting Santorum over Romney, 47 percent to 10 percent, according to the latest Public Policy Polling survey. They also make up 8 percent of primary voters, a not-insignificant number.

But this was also a state Romney was expected to lock up, and he’s not going to be able to inoculate himself from criticism by blaming a loss on his recent blunders. It just so happens that Santorum’s made plenty of problematic comments himself, and somehow he’s still managed to end up neck-and-neck with Romney.