Mitt Romney renewed his momentum by winning the Republican presidential primaries in Michigan and Arizona Tuesday, but the way he did it may have jeopardized his ability to defeat President Barack Obama in the general election.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, scored his victories and recaptured GOP front-runner status by moving hard to the right on a variety of issues in order to please conservatives who are pivotal in the GOP nominating process. He took a tough line against illegal immigration in Arizona, which could alienate many Latinos across the country. And he strongly opposed the federal bailout of the auto industry in Michigan, which could turn off union households and blue-collar workers from coast to coast.
The Democrats professed delight at Romney's situation. His two victories Tuesday "have come at a great cost for Mitt Romney," said Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. "He has moved far to the right in an obvious effort to pick up support from extreme Tea Party voters. In Michigan, that meant doubling down on his incredibly out-of-touch position that we should have 'let Detroit go bankrupt.' In Arizona, it was confirming that he'd be the most extreme nominee in recent history on immigration. And he did all that while he and his super PAC allies launched a vicious negative attack campaign against Rick Santorum—outspending Santorum and his allies nearly 2-to-1 in Michigan and 12-to-1 in Arizona."
Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign in 2008, told MSNBC, "The longer this [GOP race] goes on, Republican voters are saying, 'We don't like any of them, we want somebody new in the race.' And that new person isn't going to appear in the race."