Romney raises the stakes in Michigan, says he won’t lose

Mitt Romney is raising the stakes in Michigan, predicting he cant lose despite trouble in the polls and a surge in support for Rick Santorum.

Asked by on Wednesday whether he might lose the state, Romney said simply: “That won’t happen.”

But Romney has an uphill climb ahead of the vote taking place in the state in less than two weeks, on Feb. 28. In two polls of likely Michigan Republican voters released Monday, Santorum held the lead over Romney.

Michigan is considered a crucial test for Romney’s campaign. Not only does it come one week ahead of Super Tuesday, when many have predicted the GOP nomination will be clinched, but it has long been considered a lock to go for Romney. Michigan is Romney’s home turf — he was born in Detroit and his father was a popular three-term GOP governor — and he won the state in 2008, beating John McCainJohn McCainKerry: US 'on the verge' of suspending talks with Russia on Syria Trump, Clinton to headline Al Smith dinner Overnight Defense: Congress overrides Obama 9/11 veto | Pentagon breathes easy after funding deal | More troops heading to Iraq MORE in the GOP primary. 

Santorum winning Michigan would be a serious blow to Romney’s already-faltering status as the Republican Party’s “inevitable nominee.”

Romney has been pushing a line this week that he first previewed Wednesday on Fox News, reminding reporters that his competition in the GOP race has waxed and waned while he has remained the front-runner, for the most part.

“You have seen just how mercurial the sentiments of voters are until they get to know the candidate,” he told reporters, according to “It’s always been a two-person race. First, it was me against Donald TrumpDonald TrumpChuck Todd clashes with Trump aide over 'bogus' online polls Mexican magazine cover shows Trump with "American Fascist" Hitler mustache The Trail 2016: Just a little kick MORE, then it was me against Michele BachmannMichele BachmannTrump says 2016 is the GOP's last chance to win Bachmann: Clinton will prosecute churches and nonprofits The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE, me against Newt Gingrich and now it’s me against Rick Santorum.”

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) endorsed Romney on Thursday, writing in the Detroit News that Romney “understands the challenges confronting Michigan,” though he steered clear of what has become a liability for Romney in the state: his opposition to the auto industry bailout.

Democrats have promoted his position as “kicking” Detroit when it was down, attacking Romney over his position in a new ad released earlier this week.

Romney sought to defend his opposition in an op-ed in the Detroit News on Tuesday.

“The president tells us that without his intervention things in Detroit would be worse,” he wrote. “I believe that without his intervention things there would be better.”