January 11, 2012

Romney coasting from the starting line

Coasting is dangerous...

Forget Mitt Romney's record of conservatism. Forget even the concept of electability. Whether Mitt Romney can. Beat president Obama doesn't just depend on what voters think of him, it depends on how much fight he has in him. So far, it doesn't look like much.

With a massive war chest relative to the Republican field and a strong infrastructure as well as the backing of the Republican establishment both in and out of the media Mitt Romney has not yet had to break a sweat to win an unprecedented two first states. On top of that, the Republican field has been fighting each other for second place instead of hitting the front runner (Mitt) and the liberal press has laid of Mitt in an effort to both build up and save their powder for the one whom they see as the eventual winner.

Looking backwards when Mitt Romney faced a real challenge in 2008, he lost. In basketball terms that's like the L.A. Lakers losing to a college team and then going out and beating a high school team. Of course Mitt looks good now, look at who his competition is: a kooky libertarian, a not-Ready-for-prime-time debater, a liberal, an arrogant and hot tempered guy with baggage and a solid conservative with all the appeal of lukewarm paste. 

Electability? This is your choice Republicans?

Sure you have to choose from the available choices and this is not a star-studded cast as far as options go. But despite all of the weakness of his opponents, you can argue that solid conservative or hot-tempered would both out-perform a candidate who when tested, didn't win and when not tested did win. Make no mistake - facing Obama will be a formidable test.

Prior to 2008 Romney's history includes a loss to Kennedy, a win in a run for governor of Massachusetts for which he did not seek re-election, and probably wouldn't have won. That's not a track record of a champion. He could not have beaten Ted Kennedy in the first race, and he claims he was running to make a point. That's an expensive point. But let's discount that and look at the rest of his record; a win, a failure to win the nomination in 2008 and now a probable coast from the start to finish of the race.

Again I ask - is that a battle-tested, proven winner? I wouldn't call it that myself. If indeed other candidates start to hit Mitt Romney during the primaries, they are doing both him and conservative voters a favor. Not only does it test Romney for the upcoming general election battle, it also helps ensure that voters are getting what they are voting for and there are no surprises – now, or after it’s too late.  The added bonus is that by getting things like the supposed Bain Capital ‘issue’ off the table before Team Obama has a chance to spring it on the American public with their own spin (which would include something like “look, an evil capitalist!”).  Remember when Obama ran in 2008 a lot of things like his association with Reverend Wright had been brought up by Hillary Clinton long before conservatives raised the same flag in the fall.  By that time the stories had long been discounted as irrelevant by so many people that the complaint about who Obama surrounded himself with no longer carried any weight with voters.  The same can be said for Mitt Romney.  Attacking him now, if he weathers the storm, will take the teeth out of a later attack. 

It also gives others a chance to try to win the nomination (I’m still not a Romney Kool Aid drinker), and for those who do back Romney, it does not allow him to coast from start to finish.  Someone who coasts the whole way, never wins.  He may win the nomination but he won’t win the presidency unless he works harder to get there.

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