KENTWOOD, Mich. -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney continued his fight Wednesday night to keep his hometown state in his grasp.
"I've got lots of friends here," Romney said during a "Welcome Home Mitt" rally at a furniture-manufacturing company right outside Grand Rapids. "There's an old high school friend -- we lived across the hall from each other."
His staffers handed out absentee ballots, knowing every vote will count in this state.
And they planted Romney's kickoff event in an industrial park, hoping to pick up some of Michigan's all-important blue-collar votes.
"I saw that Bob King said that I don't care about the auto industry," Romney said, making a not-so-veiled reference to his opposition to the 2008 auto bailout. "I'm sorry, Mr. King, I care very deeply about the auto industry. I wanna make sure we have good jobs not just for a few weeks, but for many, many years."
Somewhat surprisingly, Romney didn't mention -- not even once -- Rick Santorum, the man many polls show leading or tying Romney in the state.
Instead, Romney tried to reclaim his role as clear frontrunner and focused his energies entirely on President Obama.
"This president happens to believe that you're not ideal at picking your own insurance company and picking your health care the way you want to," Romney said, vowing to repeal the president's health care overhaul if elected.
"I will cut federal spending, I will cap spending as a percentage of the economy, and I will finally balance the budget."
Romney also shied away from any direct mention of the auto bailout --
which he has criticized as too much government intervention.
Many in the crowd were convinced Romney is their guy.
"Exactly what you'd expect from a natural, executive leader, which is what our country needs," one said.
Others, though, would still prefer someone else.
"I'm gonna vote for Ron Paul," one said.
Romney's wife Ann will be stumping for him Thursday in both Novi and Flint. Mr. Romney will pick up the endorsement of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.