Some Republican officials are worried about how the presidential primary has damaged the party's brand -- the top two candidates are viewed negatively by a plurality of Americans -- and they're hoping Super Tuesday will be the grand finale.The candidates are scrambling to get every last vote they can while trying to convince the press that if they don't do that well, it's not so bad.
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Our rundown of their last-minute strategies:
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Strategy: Romney quit doing town halls for weeks -- for both security- and gaffe-related reasons -- but now they're back. The point is to show Romney's human side, The Wall Street Journal's Sara Murray reports. When an Ohio man asked a question about health care coverage of his kid with Down syndrome, Romney took him aside privately and talked about his nephew, who also has Down syndrome. He talks about his wife more, too. "Aides acknowledge connecting with voters is an issue for the campaign, but they say they're frustrated they cannot put the matter to rest," Murray reports. The candidate has three rallies in Ohio Monday.
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Managing expectations: (This part of campaign coverage can make your brain hurty -- whose expectations are being managed? Reporters. And who is reporting on the managing of expectations? Reporters. Do campaigns ever try to manage the expectations of how they'll manage expectations?) Romney's campaign says they are only hoping to pick up a bunch of delegates in the South. Gingrich might win Georgia, for example, but it awards the most delegates Tuesday, and Romney can still win a lot of delegates by coming in second place. "I don’t know if we can win in Georgia or Tennessee," Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said Sunday, The New York Times reports. “But I know we can take delegates out of there and this is a delegate contest now.” In Tennessee, a fifth of voters think Mormonism, Romney's faith, is a "cult." But NBC News' Garrett Haake reports that the demographics of Atlanta suburbs look a lot like those of Oakland County, near Detroit, where Romney got half the vote.
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Strategy: Stop talking about social issues so much. Karen Santorum told him not to call President Obama a "snob." As she told Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown, “My advice to him was stop answering the question [about birth control]," Karen said. "Tell 'em, 'I'm not going to answer this question, let me tell you what I know about national security. I know a lot about national security.'" But Santorum can't help talking about social issues sometimes. In Oklahoma this weekend, at a megachurch event attended by the reality stars of the Duggar family, Santorum told the crowd, "Everyone says, 'Oh, it's the economy, Rick; it's the economy, stupid.' Yes, it is the economy. But it's more than the economy," NewsOn6.com reports. Of Obama and his allies, Santorum said, "They believe in a pre-Revolutionary America where the elite should decide what's best for those in flyover country." Odd to imagine Obama as a Tory.
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Managing expectations: Santorum is lowering expectations in Ohio, the state where his blue-collar roots were supposed to help him connect with voters. He told Fox News Sunday, "It's a tough state for us, only because of the fact of the money disadvantage. We’re running a grass-roots campaign. We're hanging in there. We're going to do very, very well."
Strategy: As he promise from the very start of his campaign, Gingrich is relying heavily on media attention. He was on five Sunday talk shows. He was on Fox and Friends Monday morning. But he can't afford to buy many ads, The New York Times' Trip Gabriel reports, so instead he's hoping the people who show up at rallies to shake his hand will take photos and post them on Facebook to get the word out. Unfortunately, Gabriel reports, too many voters want to linger and reminisce about meeting Gingrich years ago.
Managing expectations: Gingrich lowering expectations everywhere, even Georgia. "I think I'll win Georgia by a much, much bigger margin than Romney won Michigan," Gingrich said on ABC's This Week. "This [race] is going to go on for a while" But Romney only won Michigan by 3 percentage points! Gingrich is polling 23 points ahead of Romney in Georgia.
Strategy: Paul has been campaigning in out of the way caucus states -- including Alaska.
Managing expectations: Paul told CBS News he knows he faces long odds on winning the nomination.