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In Wake of New Hampshire, McCain, Romney Battle in Michigan

BY Admin  January 9, 2008 at 10:50 AM EDT

Mitt Romney in New Hampshire with his family

Both candidates planned to hold campaign events in Grand Rapids on Wednesday.

Michigan voters will get to choose from the full slate of Republican candidates on Tuesday Jan. 15, but Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York is the only major Democratic candidate on the ballot that day.

The confusion over what role Michigan will play in the primary fight stems from the state’s decision to break national party rules and schedule its primary before Feb. 5. To punish the state parties, the Republican National Committee stripped the state of half its 60 delegates and the Democratic National Committee removed all 156 delegates to this summer’s national convention.

As a result, the Democratic contenders are not expected to do much campaigning in Michigan, instead setting their sights on the contests in Nevada on Jan. 19 and South Carolina on Jan. 26.

But Romney and McCain are focused on Michigan, where they both have strengths.

Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, was born in Detroit and grew up in Bloomfield Hills. His father George was head of the former American Motors Corp. before serving as the state’s governor from 1963 to 1969.

Romney has placed second in both major primary contests so far, in Iowa and New Hampshire. Political consultant Craig Ruff of Public Sector Consultants in Lansing, Mich., said Romney can weather another second place finish in Michigan and still win the GOP nomination, reported the Detroit Free Press.

“Romney could be bridesmaid in a dozen states and still come out a winner. It depends on whether or not there is a bride who starts consistently winning,” he said. “It is possible that the Republicans could go into the convention without a clear nominee. And Romney could continue to run second or third and come into the convention with enough delegates to be a compromise choice.”

McCain, who won the state in 2000, still has support there and was riding high on his New Hampshire win.

“I’m grateful to the people of New Hampshire. I’m committed to keeping this country safe, and we’re going to move on to Michigan and South Carolina and win the nomination,” he told the Associated Press Tuesday night.

Another Republican, Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses and came in third in New Hampshire, planned to speak to the Detroit Economic Club on Wednesday. The other Republican contenders did not have campaign events in Michigan scheduled as of Wednesday morning.

The economy will likely be foremost on Michigan voters’ minds. The state has the highest unemployment rate in the country at more than 7 percent and in 2007 lost nearly 77,000 jobs, according to University of Michigan economists, reported the Toledo Blade.