NOVI, Mich. -- The prospect of a brokered or contested Republican convention is one that Mitt Romney would rather ignore, since it simply amplifies concerns about his ability to win over GOP voters.
On Tuesday afternoon, Romney rejected the idea that a new candidate might enter the race, but he described what a contested convention -- which would occur if neither he nor any of his rivals arrive in Tampa on Aug. 27 with the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination -- might look like.
"I don’t think there is any prospect of a brokered convention. I can’t imagine the four candidates saying after a long process of fundraising and campaigning for one to two years, that we are all going to step aside and give the nomination to someone else," Romney told Fox Business Network's Neil Cavuto, in an interview that aired in part at 4:00 p.m. on Fox News and will air in full at 6:00 p.m. on Cavuto's Fox Business show.
"We will surely find a way. The four of us would have to find a way to make it work amongst ourselves because we are not going to hand this off to someone else after all the work we have done," Romney said.
Romney's comments are a sign that he and his campaign have absorbed the fact that they are unlikely to drive any of their competitors from the primary, as frontrunners in past primaries have been able to do. That's because newly created super PACs are helping former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) stay on the air and remain competitive in key states, while Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has the money, organization and willpower to stay in the race to the end as well.
But with his comment, Romney essentially eschewed one unflattering prospect while admitting that another is possible. And the fact that he did so on the day that the primary in his home state is taking place -- after he made his childhood here a key part of his appeal to voters -- only heightens the sense that his candidacy is being shaken to its core.
In politics, to admit that something is possible is to give a conversation oxygen. And so now, Romney's comments will be used, probably regardless of whether he wins Michigan narrowly or loses it, to fuel breathless talk of a contested convention. And it will also prop up talk of a late entry, especially if Romney does not prevail.
But Romney denied that his candidacy would be "in trouble" if he loses the state.
“People try and write a narrative of that nature but frankly I am planning on winning in Michigan. If for some reason I don’t, I have by far the most delegates," Romney said. "I expect to get the delegates I need to win. If I were turned down by Massachusetts, where I have lived for the last 40 years and served as governor, that would be a little harder to explain.”