Romney Hits the Gridiron — and the Stump — in Michigan

Scott Olson/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- Standing on the 30-yard line of Detroit's Ford Field, Mitt Romney delivered his economic speech before a crowd of about 1,200 supporters sitting in folding chairs on the field of the indoor football stadium that is home to the NFL’s Detroit Lions.

Romney reiterated his new tax plan to applause from the audience in his crucial home state of Michigan, saying, "I want to thank the folks at the Ford Field for making this space available for us,” Romney said, joking about the massive stadium, "I guess we had a hard time finding a large enough place to meet and this certainly is."

As Romney spoke, his campaign acknowledged he must score in Michigan. Romney could survive a Michigan loss mathematically, but the political price would be catastrophic -- a chief strategist with the campaign telling ABC News, "What could we change here at this point... We're all in." The strategist would not predict Tuesday’s outcome.  The campaign source added, if they lose, "We get back up and start campaigning again like we always do," recognizing the tight race in the state against Rick Santorum. 

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Romney celebrated the auto industry indoors, saying he and his family drive American made cars. However, before the speech, protesters -- mostly including auto worker union members -- had gathered to demonstrate against him. The crowd -- some holding a giant banner with an amended headline from Romney's 2008 New York Times op-ed -- actually disappated before the speech, however. Protesters had changed "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" -- a line Romney actually never said, but the Times attributed to him -- to "Let Romney Go Bankrupt."

The host organization for Romney's speech, the Detroit Economic Club, changed the event site from a downtown Detroit hotel to the field because, as a spokesman for the club told ABC News, tickets sold out within hours.

Romney, in his home state where his father ran an automobile company and served as governor, began and ended his speech noting his love for cars.  But when he listed his cars, there was a slightly awkward moment: After declaring Detroit should be, "the Motor City of the World," Romney said, "I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck.  He then said his wife Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs.

Before ending, Romney added, "I used to have a Dodge truck so I used to have all three covered."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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