Stronger Mich. Economy Could Hurt Romney's Chances

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Romney's ties to the state — he grew up in Michigan and his father, George, served as the head of American Motors Corp. and then as governor — may help his effort to win its 16 electoral votes. Recent history is against him, though. Michigan has gone Democratic in every presidential election since Bill Clinton won in 1992.

Yet Democrats don't take Michigan for granted. George W. Bush campaigned frequently in the state in both of his campaigns and lost to Democrat John Kerry by less than 4 percentage points in 2004. Republican John McCain essentially abandoned his Michigan campaign in 2008 to concentrate on other states, allowing Obama to win by nearly 17 percentage points.

State Attorney General Bill Schuette, Romney's Michigan campaign chairman, said he expects a focus on lower taxes, less regulation and increased prosperity to make Romney a winner. The president's repeated trips to Michigan to shore up support just point to "the fragility of Barack Obama's economic message," Schuette said.

Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., said Romney's opposition to the auto bailout will drive away voters who see the industry's revitalization spurring the state's economic rebound.

"There's still a ways to go," Levin said, "but we've come quite a ways."

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