It has been almost twenty years that I was a "stringer" for a local newspaper covering high school football. For those who do not what a stringer is, a stringer is a paid for story sports reporter. On a fall night back in 1992, I had the duty to interview then Dixie High School Head Coach Jim Rich. Rich simply told me about his team's close win that night, "A win ain't a loss." That simple statement stuck with me, and I have used that quote more than once since that night.
When it comes to the Republican Presidential Primary in Michigan, that is what Mitt Romney is facing. Romney and his supporting super PAC have spent millions in Michigan, Romney's home state. Romney has enjoyed a huge financial and organizational advantage from the start of the Republican Presidential Primary season, but Republican voters have not warmed up to him. Romney in some ways seems like the guy who courts the girl with the looks, the job, the family ties, all the right things, except the girl is not in love with him. But, marriages are made of guys like that who somehow keep plugging away for affection. Sure, divorce court is filled with them as well, but at least the guy gets the girl for a little while.
And, Romney just wants the girl, that is the GOP nomination, just for this year. With it, and with President Obama's missteps, Romney can do what his old man could not, become President of the the United States. The irony is, the biggest step to getting that nomination is winning Michigan, where the dad that Romney seems to run away from at times, was Governor. It is a story filled with layers and subplots that one could write about for days on end.
But, the bottom line is this. If Romney gets more votes than Rick Santorum in the Michigan Primary, look for him to use the old Coach Rich mantra, "a win is not a loss," to assure the Republican establishment he is a winner and he is their guy. A victory in Michigan, no matter how narrow, will show Romney is the safe bet for the GOP courtship. It will show, though the GOP is not in love with him, Mitt Romney is a stable suitor, with money, that can provide a shot at beating Obama, what the lady that is the Grand Ole Party really wants.
If Romney fails to win Michigan, then all bets on the relationship with the GOP is off. Santorum might then fancy himself the suitor for the hand of the Republican Party, but he might soon find out that with the rich guy so weak others will pursue the hand themselves. The lonely eyes of the GOP might turn to someone, such as Jeb Bush, or Mitch Daniels, not currently in the race, to take on Obama. As another football coach, the late Bo Schembechler once said, it is now about "Michigan, Michigan, Michigan!"