A top aide to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign on Monday downplayed expectations for next week's Michigan primary, saying Romney, whose father served as Michigan governor, didn't have to notch a win in the state.
“Mitt Romney has connections to three states,” Eric Fehrnstrom said Monday on MSNBC. “Four years ago we won all three of three of those states [Michigan, Utah and Massachusetts]. Is any one of them a must-win for Mitt Romney? No.”
“I think the must-do for any candidate running for president is achieving the 1,145 delegates," he added. "That’s what’s going to secure the nomination, and it’s a long process, and as of right now we have a nearly three to one lead over our closest rival in terms of delegates."
On a strictly numerical basis, Fehrnstrom is absolutely right. The Republican primary is a race for delegates. Even if Romney loses Michigan's primary next Tuesday, he stands to score many more delegates in the other primary being held that day, the winner-take-all contest in Arizona (though a PPP poll released on Monday showed former Sen. Rick Santorum within three points of Romney there).
That said, Michigan does feel like a state that Romney needs to win. Not only because he grew up there, or because an anonymous GOP senator told ABC News that if Romney loses the state, he or she will begin publicly calling for someone else to enter the race -- but because a top Romney aide recently said losing Michigan wasn't an option.
"We have to win both [Arizona and Michigan]," the aide told The New York Times' John Harwood.