http://www.latimes.com/news/nationw...=la-news-politics-national&ctrack=1&cset=true After early setbacks, he turns to Michigan to jump-start his campaign. By Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer January 10, 2008 GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. -- -- Reeling from defeats in New Hampshire and Iowa, Mitt Romney suspended TV advertising in South Carolina and Florida on Wednesday, a money-saving move that laid bare the dire condition of his run for the White House. After a year of sparing virtually no expense in his quest for the Republican nomination, Romney's pullback amounted to an extraordinary retreat in two states that will hold crucial primaries this month -- even though he could resume advertising on short notice. Romney's losses to Mike Huckabee in the Iowa caucuses and John McCain in the New Hampshire primary have wrecked his campaign strategy. He was counting on victories in those contests to vault him to the nomination. A day after the setback in New Hampshire, Romney turned Wednesday to another state to rescue his candidacy: Michigan. He grew up there, and his father, George Romney, was its governor from 1963 to 1969. "I care about Michigan," Romney told a crowd here at Grand Valley State University. "For me, it's personal." Michigan's primary will take place Tuesday, followed four days later by South Carolina's. Florida's primary is Jan. 29. But Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, faces a fiercely contested race in Michigan, a state that McCain won in his 2000 presidential bid. Basking in his New Hampshire victory, McCain arrived in Grand Rapids hours before Romney on Wednesday. Like Romney, he salted his remarks with plans to remedy Michigan's ailing economy. The state's 7.4% unemployment rate is the highest in the nation. "There are tough times here in the heartland of America," the Arizona senator told several hundred supporters in a Grand Rapids airport hangar. Huckabee, too, poses a challenge to Romney in Michigan. A former Southern Baptist minister, he has a natural kinship with many evangelicals in the state's rural areas. On Wednesday, he started airing an ad in Michigan that draws a contrast between his folksy style and Romney's more staid corporate image. "I'm Mike Huckabee, and I approved this message, because I believe most Americans want their next president to remind them of the guy they work with -- not the guy who laid them off," the former Arkansas governor says in the ad. With the Iowa and New Hampshire disappointments threatening to undercut his fundraising, Romney tried to show that he remained competitive. Romney met Wednesday morning in Boston with several hundred people who were soliciting donations by telephone at rows of tables in a vast convention center showroom. "Hit the phones today," Romney told the group. "Make all the promises you have to." The event was a replay of the "national call day" that Romney held a year ago to demonstrate his viability as he launched his campaign. Seeking to put the best spin on a bad situation, Romney told the group that he had won more votes in Iowa and New Hampshire combined than any of his rivals had -- even if he finished second in both contests. He also mentioned his sweep of the Republican caucuses in Wyoming, a sparsely populated state where his opponents had not bothered to campaign. Wandering among the tables of callers, Romney picked up a phone and told a supporter to keep faith. "It's not a perfect start, but it's a good start," he said. Later, he told reporters the race remained fluid. The party nomination, Romney said, would go to the candidate with "the staying power to go the distance" in all 50 states. "I think we're used to a political environment where everything's decided after one or two primaries," he said. "That's not the case. This is going to be a much longer process." In Boston and Grand Rapids, Romney amended his stump speech -- already retooled after his Iowa defeat -- with an exhaustive review of his Michigan ties. He has visited every county in the state. His wife, Ann, was born in Oak Park, and one of their sons, Josh, in Pontiac. Romney recalled that his first job after high school was as a plant guard at Chrysler. He described the automobile industry as "part of my DNA." At a voter forum in Grand Rapids, Romney reminisced about campaigning for his father, a onetime president of American Motors, at county fair booths when George Romney ran for governor in 1962. A local Romney supporter, Phil Vanden Berg, told Romney that his own father used to drive an AMC Rambler. "I've got a '62 Rambler in my garage," Romney told him with a chuckle. As Romney, McCain and Huckabee kicked off their Michigan campaigns, another Republican candidate, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, stuck to Florida, where he hopes to score his first victory. In Melbourne, Fla., a bomb threat led police to evacuate dozens of Giuliani supporters from a campaign event in a corporate office. Giuliani's campaign moved the event to an airport hangar at a nearby flight school.