December 22, 2011

Mitt Romney convinced he'll lose, or win?

Mitt Romney has two reasons to reject a face-to-face debate with Newt Gingrich.  The question is, which one is driving his decision?

BETHLEHEM, N.H. (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday spurned chief rival Newt Gingrich's challenge for a one-on-one debate ahead of the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses but dismissed the notion—suggested by the former House speaker—that he's afraid to participate in such a face-off.

"We've had many occasions to debate together and we'll have more, I presume quite a few more, before this is finished," Romney told The Associated Press. "But I'm not going to narrow this down to a two-person race while there are still a number of other candidates that are viable, important candidates in the race. I want to show respect to them."
Okay, so what's the real reason?  Is he already convinced he'll win the nomination and by agreeing to a head-to-head debate with Gingrich he'll only elevate his chief rival to true contender status?  

Or is it that he doubts he can defeat Gingrich's uncanny debating skills one on one and doesn't want that situation to occur?

Perhaps it's both.  But by backing out he looks weak.  It likely won't matter though, because no other not-Romney candidate will bother to call him out on the chickening out because it helps Gingrich and not themselves.  Every not Romney candidate will continue to fight for the same not-Romney space, leaving really only Jon Huntsman to compete for the establishment and RINO voters.  But even Huntsman can't seem to put a substantial enough of a dent in the Romney base to make the rest of the race interesting.  Without a Huntsman surprise in New Hampshire, we could be looking at a Romney cake-walk.

Romney won't win Iowa, but now it looks like neither will Gingrich.  Ron Paul is enjoying a surge there but he still may not win.  My money there is on a late surge from Bachmann or Perry or a Paul surprise victory.  Right now it looks like thaat will be followed by a Romney win in New Hampshire, and a Gingrich win in South Carolina and then Florida.  After that if Romney wins Nevada it may be time for a bloodbath if there are still not-Romney-not-Gingriches in the race, siphoning of anti-Romney votes from a viable contender, which right now seems to still reside with Gingrich.

There's little time for other options or new trends to emerge.  There are only 12 days to the Iowa caucuses now. Amazing.  With Newt fading a bit of late, it's pretty clear why Mitt won't debate him head-to-head now.

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