Continued from page 1

With his wife, Ann, and son, Tagg, at his side, he said the 2012 election is about “saving the soul of America” and will offer voters a stark contrast in governing philosophies.

“President Obama is making the federal government bigger, burdensome, and bloated. I will make it simpler, smaller, and smarter,” he said.

He vowed to cut taxes and to balance the federal budget, as well as repeal the president’s new health care law, restore the nation’s AAA credit rating and approve the controversial Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL oil pipeline, which the Obama administration rejected.

“This election will come down to two very different visions for our future,” he said. “It’s a choice between becoming a nation of and by Washington and remaining a nation of and by a free people. A choice between an entitlement society and a land of opportunity. A choice between squandering America’s promise and restoring that promise for future generations.”

For his part Mr. Santorum, who lost Michigan chiefly by losing the female vote there, spoke extensively about his mother, who he said earned a college degree when that was rare for women.

He also focused heavily on his economic message of rebuilding manufacturing, which had helped him win in Iowa and Minnesota earlier this year, but which he got away from during the weeks leading up to Michigan.

Mr. Romney also won despite self-inflicted wounds, including struggling to explain his stance on the bailout of the auto companies that began under President George W. Bush and was expanded by President Obama.

Mr. Romney said the companies should have gone through a structured bankruptcy before being able to tap federal money — though many Michigan voters view Mr. Obama’s moves as a success that has revitalized the industry.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Mr. Romney has damaged himself should he be the eventual nominee.

“He has moved far to the right in an obvious effort to pick up support from extreme tea party voters,” she said in a statement. “In Michigan, that meant doubling down on his incredibly out-of-touch position that we should have ‘let Detroit go bankrupt.’ In Arizona, it was confirming that he’d be the most extreme nominee in recent history on immigration.”

Mr. Santorum, who had led in the polls here as late as last week, seemed to stumble himself. In a debate in Arizona last week, Mr. Romney attacked him as unprincipled, and then Mr. Santorum this weekend accused Mr. Obama of being a “snob” for urging all students to aim for a college degree.

And even as he was arguing he was the conservative candidate in the race, he sought to expand his support beyond traditional Republican voters, using robocalls to urge Democrats to turn out and vote for him.

Mr. Romney called that a “dirty trick,” but Mr. Santorum said he’s just doing what Mr. Romney did in New Hampshire, when he won that state’s primary in part because of support from self-identified Democrats and independents.

“So, when he goes out and recruits 53 percent of the voters in New Hampshire who are not Republicans, that is OK?” Mr. Santorum said as he campaigned for votes on Tuesday.

The point of the robocall, he said, was to prove that he could pull together the same sort of blue-collar conservative Democratic coalition that had been part of the Reagan coalition in the 1980s.

Story Continues →