That Mitt Romney is a severely challenged candidate is no great revelation. What should be a surprise, but isn’t, is that the Republican hierarchy pushed such a flawed candidate in the first place, one who had to be dragged across the nomination finish line. And now, the seeds of that ill-fated decision are bearing fruit. Problem is, it’s rotting on the vine, and the harvest is still seven weeks away.
At the risk of sounding like so many on the “Ronald Reagan Is God” bandwagon, it is nonetheless true that the Gipper was the last quality Republican candidate. For those in the GOP who struggle with math, that’s over three decades ago. How is that possible? Because the Republican establishment prefers coronations over elections, strong-arming nominations for those with big wallets and whose “turn it is.”
How have they fared since Reagan and his 49-state near-sweep in 1984? Bob Dole and John McCain were pathetic. George Bush I was elected only because of Reagan’s legacy, and the fact that Democrats put up an even weaker candidate (Michael Dukakis). And George W. Bush was an unmitigated disaster, paving the way for Barack Obama.
Given the President’s dismal performance the last four years, this election should be a slam dunk for Republicans. It is the GOP’s to lose, and more than likely, that’s exactly what they will do.
Enter Romney. His immense wealth and access to big donors made party leaders come down with amnesia, totally forgetting Mitt’s debacle four years ago when he lost to McCain, whose campaign was literally bankrupt.
It’s bad enough that Romney is viewed warily because of his wealth and Mormon religion (a huge concern for many), but he has done nothing to improve his standing among his base, let alone the independents, centrist Democrats and undecideds who always sway presidential elections. Consider:
• Romney is arguably the biggest flip-flopper, on any political level, of all time. And not just on the hot-button issues of guns, gays and abortion, but on virtually everything. Hell, he couldn’t even decide whether to release his tax returns during one of the primary debates. It is simply unfathomable that he hadn’t made up his mind on that issue since a) he ran before and had to address it, b) his father pioneered the concept, and c) he knew it would come up again. It did—all summer long. Indecisiveness is not a compelling trait to voters.
Note to Ann Romney: Your response to Mitt’s Republican critics of “Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring,” is woefully misguided. Just because campaigning is difficult, and others don’t have your husband’s $300 million net worth allowing them to get into “the ring,” doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Neither of your reasons justify Mitt’s lack of core and inept campaign.
• Many refuse to support someone perceived to lack core convictions. By contrast, the President’s convictions are, and always have been, on full display. He promised nationalized health care, increased spending, a larger, more regulatory government, higher taxes on the rich, and a pullout from Iraq. Well, mission accomplished. Conversely, Romney is all over the map on most issues, offers no specifics, and is now perceived as abandoning “47 percent of the electorate” as he states in the now infamous video.
Has it dawned on Mitt that instead of writing off half the country, he might take a page from the Reagan playbook and try to win hearts and minds with ideas that benefit everybody? Just a thought.
• Obama may be an unpopular chief executive, but he is a stellar campaigner. Give Romney the benefit of the doubt that he would be an effective president. His problem in getting there. And since we are in a campaign, that’s all that matters.
• No one “likes” Mitt Romney. That isn’t a cheap shot, but a fact reflected in every likability poll. And make no mistake. Many will go for the person with whom they feel most comfortable. Obama has always been light years ahead of Romney in this regard, and that gap will only widen as the one-third of the electorate who didn’t have an opinion of Romney get to know him. The latest videos don’t help.
Closely linked is “relatability.” Does this candidate understand our issues, from college affordability to job security to housing foreclosures? Well, installing an elevator for your cars in your beach mansion somewhat kills the “I can relate to you” line. The double whammy is that Romney’s judgment will be questioned yet again, with many asking why he couldn’t have just waited until after November to install the lift.
Not surprisingly, a recent Esquire/Yahoo News poll found that a whopping 75 percent of Americans feel little or nothing in common with Romney.
Can Romney “win?” No. Obama can lose. There’s a difference. Thus far, Romney has demonstrated an inability to articulate a bold vision for America. If that doesn’t change quickly, look for a concession speech by yet another coronated, crestfallen and clueless Republican candidate.