Michigan may be Romney's last stand

Mitt Romney, Brian France
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) and Brian France (2ndR), CEO and chairman of NASCAR, attend a CEO breakfast prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 26, 2012, in Daytona Beach, Florida.
John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

The unpredictable Republican primary season reaches what could be another turning point on Tuesday with contests in Arizona and Michigan, Mitt Romney's boyhood home.

Michigan was once thought to be a lock for Romney. Not anymore.

CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds reports that Romney chartered a jet from Michigan to Florida for the Daytona 500, where a trackside man-of-the people photo opportunity awaited the candidate with four cars of his own. His enthusiasm was not diminished by rain that postponed the race or the stock car emblazoned with the name of his rival.

After all, Romney had earlier won the backing of Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona, where Romney appears headed for a clear-cut victory in two days.

"He has that pro-business background and he has that political history that I think he would serve America the best of all the candidates," Brewer said.

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But his pro-business background has also greatly enriched Romney, with a fortune estimated at $250 million. Critics say he lacks a common touch because of that wealth, a complaint he addressed during an interview.

"I can't be perfect. I just am who I am. If people think there's something wrong with being successful in America, then they better vote for the other guy," Romney said.

That other guy would be Rick Santorum.

"We don't need someone to better manage Washington. We need someone to fundamentally change Washington and give power back to the people," Santorum said.

Polls show Santorum, with his emphasis on reviving manufacturing in this country, could win Tuesday's other race, the one in Michigan, where romney was born and raised.

"Here we are being badly outspent again by his Super PAC and his big, big dollar friends, and we're hanging in there, holding our own," Santorum said.

The consequences of a loss in Michigan would be awful for Romney, piercing the idea that his nomination is inevitable and possibly setting off an 11th-hour search for an alternative acceptable to the party establishment.

But Santorum, with his repeated rhetorical detours into sensitive social issues, does not necessarily fill that bill.

The stakes are unquestionably high. Governor Chris Christie, one of the more prominent national supporters of Romney, told Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation" on Sunday that if Romney loses Michigan, a brokered convention in August is a possibility.

  • Dean Reynolds
    Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.