Perhaps ‘90s pop star Britney Spears belted it best: “All eyes on me in the center of a ring just like a circus.”

Or not…

Regardless, the next round of presidential voting took place today, when Michiganders and Arizonans cast key ballots sending a total of 59 delegates to the Republican National Convention.  Following the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C., the remaining contestants for the Republican Party nod packed their heavy winter jackets and headed to the Midwest.

Front-runner Mitt Romney, who won Michigan’s GOP primary contest four years ago, traversed his native land during the final two critical weeks.  The former Massachusetts Governor hit all corners of Michigan, with multiple events in metropolitan Detroit, Lansing and Kalamazoo. He addressed a local Lincoln Day breakfast in Lansing Saturday morning, made a stop near Albion College on Monday, and later that evening hosted a gathering with famed singer Kid Rock of Motor City fame, to cite only a few meetings with potential backers.

Rick Santorum also traveled around the Lower Peninsula, with appearances at the Capitol Building and up north in Traverse City.  As a part of a bus entourage, the one-time Pennsylvania Senator toured several large cities especially on the more conservative Western side. The attempt to gain additional support may decide the heated duel.

Congressman Ron Paul held a tremendously successful rendezvous on the campus of Michigan State University. Over 4,000 students and grassroots supporters packed the auditorium yesterday afternoon to hear from the modern libertarian icon. “Governments are a reflection of the people,” proclaimed Paul. “Let’s restore the greatness of America.”

Polls show that Romney and Santorum are neck-and-neck heading into the election. With less than two weeks out, the latter held a sizeable fifteen point lead.  However, Mitt has closed the gap in recent days. The difference now is statistically unclear due to the margin of error.

Reports surfaced confirming that Santorum for President paid for a robo-call targeting self-identified Democrats. The recording begins by reminding “Michigan Democrats” that they “can vote in the Republican primary.” Further, it bashed Mitt for opposing the auto industry bailout all the while favoring funds “for his Wall Street billionaire buddies” and therefore “slapping the face of every Michigan worker.”  Democratic Party leaders, via Operation Hilarity, have also allegedly (and sinisterly) pushed for their affiliates to back Santorum in order to defeat Romney.

The two leading candidates have brought their messages to Michigan’s airwaves. Both have been accused of running negative campaign ads. While Santorum has solidly chosen that route, Romney appears more focused on challenging the incumbent this November. Perhaps the difference in strategy can be attributed to their divergent national standing and campaign strength. May the best, most conservative candidate win.

Nick Kowalski :: Michigan State University :: East Lansing, Michigan :: @NKowalski