Mitt Romney found himself fighting to infuse his presidential candidacy with new energy and stave off embarrassment in Tuesday’s Republican primary in Michigan.

A native son of Michigan, where his father served as governor, Romney’s facing high expectations about his ability to beat former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who’s directly challenged him with message focusing on the middle class and a manufacturing revival.

Romney had been expected to easily win here until Santorum upset the former Massachusetts governor in a trio of nominating contests earlier this month. If momentum carries Santorum to victory on Tuesday in Michigan, it would put Romney’s campaign – long considered the favorite among Republicans seeking the nomination – on precarious political footing.

“I think it’s going to be an embarrassment if he does lose. I don’t think it looks good when you win in your home state, but I’m hopeful that he’ll pull it out,” said Julie Wells, a teacher from Birmingham who intends to vote for Romney, at a rally Monday evening in this Detroit suburb.

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