Just days after Mitt Romney's campaign downplayed the importance of winning the Michigan primary, Romney endorser Donald Trump said that the state is crucial for the former Massachusetts governor's presidential campaign.
In an interview with WTCM radio in Traverse City, Mich., Trump reiterated his support for Romney and discussed the significance of next Tuesday's primary.
"I think it's very important. I really do. I don't think it can be underplayed," Trump said. "It's a very, very important thing that Mitt Romney win it. He knows it, everybody knows it."
Trump's assessment of the primary's consequence contrasted sharply with the Romney campaign's line in recent days.
On Monday, top Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom downplayed expectations for Michigan, despite the conventional wisdom that a loss in the state would be a big blow to the Romney campaign.
"Mitt Romney has connections to three states," Fehrnstrom said on MSNBC. "Four years ago we won all three of those states [Michigan, Utah and Massachusetts]. Is any one of them a must-win for Mitt Romney? No."
According to Real Clear Politics' most recent poll average, Romney rival Rick Santorum currently has a slight lead with a week left before the primary.
Trump, the business mogul and star of the reality TV show "The Apprentice," also took the opportunity to attack Santorum, echoing criticisms from earlier this week.
"The Santorum thing is beyond belief," Trump said, highlighting the fact that the former Pennsylvania senator lost his seat in 2006 to Democrat Bob Casey. "That's like, you get thrown out of high school for having bad marks, and then you apply to the Wharton School of Finance as a college."
"I just don't see how you can put somebody in office that lost by 19 points," he continued later in the interview. "The people who knew him best ... threw him out."
When asked by host Ron Jolly if he would still consider a presidential run himself, Trump would not rule out the possibility. However, any decision would have to wait until the current season of "The Apprentice" is over later this spring.
"As of May 16, I am a free agent," he said.
But in a different interview on Tuesday, Trump was more explicit about his presidential aspirations, stating he would be inclined to run if Santorum won the GOP nomination.
"Honestly, if Santorum got it, I would seriously, seriously consider it," he told CNBC. "Santorum is not the right person."