Did Mitt Romney just derail John McCain's Straight Talk Express? Not all the Democrats' and independents' votes in Michigan were enough to canonize John McCain, who barreled through Dearborn and Detroit congratulating himself for nobly ignoring voters' real concerns. In Michigan, Mitt "fight for every job" Romney trounced John "I cannot tell a lie" McCain.
Romney's victory in Michigan was surprisingly broad: He beat McCain among both men and women, older and younger voters, Catholics and Protestants, people with incomes above and below $50,000, college graduates and those with just a high school degree. Romney even bested both McCain and Huckabee among white evangelicals.
What kind of Michigan voters preferred McCain? Voters in the GOP primary who don't like President Bush, who oppose the war in Iraq and who report that they have no religion at all. Oh, and those who say they are not, in fact, Republicans.
Will the Straight Talk Express power back up and chug through South Carolina? If the Michigan contest was partly a test of the brand's power, the South Carolina campaign may derail its essential credibility.
The Annenberg Foundation's nonpartisan FactCheck.org just delivered a powerful rebuke to the basic honesty of a McCain mailer used in South Carolina (and defended by Sen. McCain after reporters called it to his attention).
In particular, FactCheck.org called McCain's assertion that Mitt Romney "provided" taxpayer-funded abortions "simply false."
"Romney never pushed for taxpayer funding for abortions. The state law he signed provided greatly expanded state-subsidized health insurance for low-income residents," Factcheck.org explained. An independent body -- the Commonwealth Connector -- not Romney, decided that abortions would be covered (a move required by two Massachusetts state supreme court rulings).
McCain also had the chutzpah to charge Romney with failing to verbally support Bush tax cuts that McCain himself actually voted against .
FactCheck.org concluded that on the whole John McCain's portrayal of Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts was "so distorted as to discredit McCain's claim to be the candidate of 'straight talk.'"
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.