Haslam ‘Not Guaranteeing’ Romney Victory in TN… but he’s trying

Gov. Bill Haslam plans to campaign in the Tri-Cities and Knoxville today for Mitt Romney. He was on the stump for his favorite presidential candidate Thursday in Memphis and the Commercial Appeal has a report:
If Romney can stage the “major surprise” his supporters on Thursday were predicting for Tennessee’s primary on Tuesday, he’ll have done so thanks in no small part to Haslam and the influential network that helped elect him governor.
Bill Hagerty, the Haslam administration’s economic development chief, worked with Romney at Bain Capital for many years and has long been a close Romney adviser. Speaking to the crowd of about 100 next door to Jason’s Deli near Poplar and Highland, Hagerty described current Tennessee primary favorite Rick Santorum’s recent polling lead as “soft” and quickly evaporating.
He said wins in Arizona, Michigan and Wyoming this week provide “a great bump for Mitt” coming into Tennessee, which is one of 10 states holding a Republican presidential contest on Tuesday.
“He’s got the wind at his back,” Hagerty said, referring also to a Rasmussen national poll showing Romney with 40-percent support from across the county vs. 24 percent for Santorum.
…Tuesday’s results in Tennessee could be telling as an indication of the influence Haslam and other top Republicans may have — or may lack.
Slate.com blogger David Weigel, who covers the conservative movement closely, put up a post leading up to the Michigan and Arizona primaries titled, “The Curse of the Endorsing Governor.” He pointed out that Romney had gone 0-for-4 in states where he received an endorsement, and polling indicated that Michigan voters were twice as likely to vote against Romney because of the governor’s endorsement.
“There’s got to be some residual anti-establishment sentiment behind it,” Weigel wrote.
However, Romney won both Michigan and Arizona, with endorsements from the governors of those states. Haslam said he believes Romney could keep the streak going in Tennessee, too.
“It’s still a very volatile electorate and I think a lot of people haven’t made their mind up,” Haslam said. “I’m not guaranteeing victory by any means, but I think this race will end up being very competitive.”

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