( dpa ) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, seeking to salvage his bid for the party's nomination, stressed his local roots and business credentials as he campaigned across Michigan ahead of the state's Tuesday primary.
Romney, a wealthy businessman, sunk millions of dollars into the first contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, but came in a disappointing second in both states, behind Baptist preacher and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Arizona Senator John McCain respectively.
Polls showed Romney and McCain in a close race in the Midwestern state that has been hit hard by an ailing US auto industry, with an average of several polls in the state showing the candidates less than 1 per cent apart.
Romney grew up in Michigan, where his father led a now-defunct auto manufacturer and served as governor, and he hopes to translate his home field advantage into a win that would further shake up the unsettled Republican field. In campaign stops Monday, he stressed his business credentials and said he would work to turn around the state's economy.
McCain, a vocal supporter of the Iraq war, came back to win last week's contest in New Hampshire and national polls now show him leading the field after his campaign had been declared dead by analysts over the summer.
Leading Democratic contenders have shunned Michigan altogether after the state moved its primary forward in the schedule of state- by-state nominating contests.
The Democratic National Committee stripped the state of all its delegates to its August convention, where the party's candidate will be officially named ahead of November 4 general elections.
The top Democrats have not campaigned in Michigan and will instead focus on a debate in Las Vegas Tuesday ahead of the Nevada primary on Saturday.
The Republican National Committee stripped Michigan of just half its delegates to its convention in September.