Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) waded into one of the biggest battles in the state of Michigan, Thursday explaining that he roots for the Michigan Wolverines over the Michigan State Spartans.

Romney, playing to the home crowd during a highly-anticipated healthcare speech at the University of Michigan, claimed to be a lifelong Wolverines fan.

"I grew up as a Wovlerine fan," Romney said. "I have been a Wolverine fan for a long, long time."

The state of Michigan is relatively friendly turf for Romney, who was raised in the metro Detroit area and whose father, George Romney, served three terms as governor.

Romney said that his sister attended Michigan State, so he feels some torn loyalties, but that he ultimately sided with the Maize and Blue.

He sought to project a more casual image in the presentation at the school's Cardiovascular Center, shunning a tie for only a shirt and blazer instead.

Romney stuck around to shake supporters' hands after the speech, but he didn't take questions from reporters.