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article imageOp-Ed: Romney not so inevitable as GOP choice

By Sadiq Green     Feb 13, 2012 in Politics
Mitt Romney is akin to the little engine that could. He failed in his Republican nomination bid in 2008 and has been campaigning since. Yet nothing is inevitable in the race to see who is going to capture the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
The notion being promoted by the so-called Republican elite that conservatives must get behind Romney because he’s the GOP’s most compelling candidate in the field is questionable. Since when are Republicans obligated to anoint Mitt Romney with the GOP presidential nomination? If Romney is such a great as a candidate, then why has Romney not been able to electrify the conservative electorate over the past four years to secure his nomination? And how can Romney engender confidence in his candidacy if voters’ question how he would govern?
Many conservatives still don’t trust Romney or his ever changing policy positions and the castigation of conservative voters who dare not support Romney only serves to intensify these conservatives dislike and distrust of Romney more.
Rick Santorum’s recent surge is best attributed to Romney’s inability to captivate Republicans. Initially Romney won 25% of the Iowa caucus vote, the same amount he got in 2008 when he lost to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Yet after a recount, it was Santorum who actually won in Iowa. He won primarily because his support of traditional family values appealed to evangelical voters in the state, but also because he’s a candidate whose convictions and passion are evident and unwavering. When it comes to Romney many Republicans are dubious of his convictions. Not only has he moved from left to right on issues such as abortion, guns and so-called Romneycare, he’s appears robotic, seemingly void of passion and never seems to give voters a sense of his true beliefs. In an email to his supporters, Santorum described Romney as “bland, boring career politician, who will lose to Barack Obama.” Santorum could be right.
Santorum’s triple-header win of Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado was stunning, unexpected and proof positive conservatives are rejecting Romney as their so-called front-runner and inevitable Republican nominee. Santorum’s victories again cast huge doubts on Romney even though none of those contests actually awarded delegates. In big states like Florida, money and organization are Romney’s assets. In states where Mitt Romney doesn’t spend lots of money, he loses. Romney and his dedicated PACs bought his Florida win by spending $15.6 million in TV ads compared to the paltry $3.3 million Gingrich and his pro PACs spent. This left Gingrich unable to defend himself against Romney’s avalanche of negative ads. Romney’s spending in Florida replicated the same tactics he used in Iowa just on a bigger scale. This begs the question: is Romney trying to buy the GOP nomination because he can’t convince voters he can be trusted as a conservative? If Romney was left to run only on his conservative credentials, voters would likely begin to see him as someone in desperate need of a personality and an authentic conservative mantle.
Santorum with four wins now under his belt has vowed to press on. This past weekend Santorum dismissed Romney’s win in the Maine Caucus and Ron Paul supporters accused the GOP establishment of stealing the caucus victory from their candidate. Santorum also has charged Romney with buying votes in the CPAC’s (Conservative Political Action Commitee) straw poll leading to his victory over the weekend. With Newt Gingrich continuing to stay in the race - banking on picking up more southern states later in the Primary schedule to add to his South Carolina win - it looks like Romney will have go after the two men with both barrels of cash loaded while hoping his substantial cash advantage lasts longer than his conservatism. With a record like Romney’s, constantly swinging from left to right, its easy to see why Romney is stuck in the middle of Santorum and Gingrich and why money may be his ticket to ride into the GOP nomination. It’s hard for GOP voters to trust someone like Romney who you just don’t know what you’re going to get in a General Election. This will matter, especially in wooing the independent voters that won the day for Obama in 2008.
Romney may still be on the road to his coronation as the GOP 2012 presidential nominee. But if he’s going to the conservative knight who battles Obama, Romney better bring more than bland to the race. The all important independent voters unhappy with Obama, need to see some conviction and perhaps even some charisma coming from Romney otherwise they have little reason to walk across the aisle - so to speak - and abandon Obama, for the other side. Maybe this is the GOP’s grand design.
In pushing Romney as their guy, the GOP establishment knows Romney won’t stir the pot, and jeopardize Congressional races, potentially enabling the GOP a good chance of winning control of the Senate and keeping control of the House whether Romney wins or loses. Being the Republican Party’s inevitable candidate may not be such a great thing after all but only time and the voters will tell.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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