January 13, 2008

romney There comes a point in every political campaign where a candidate absolutely HAS to win a particular state, a point in which the line is drawn in the sand and all the chips are put on the table.

For Barack Obama, it was Iowa. If he didn’t win there, there was nothing stopping the Hillary Clinton machine from rolling to the Democrtaic nomination.

For Hillary Clinton, it was New Hampshire. If she didn’t win there, she was going to have a damned hard time stopping the Obama bandwagon on his way to the Demoratic nomination.

For Fred Thompson, it is South Carolina, where he has already stated plainly he has to win there; hence, he is throwing all his eggs into the SC basket in an all-or nothing strategy.

For Rudy Giuliani, it looks like it’s Florida, where he has invested a great deal of time and energy in hopes that that state can be the cornerstone of a successful Super Tuesday strategy.

For Mitt Romney, it’s Tuesday’s Michigan primary. Not only is Romney from this state (where his father was a popular governor back in the ’60s), but, after second-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, dude has to show sooner or later that he can win a state (no, I don’t consider last Saturday’s Wyoming caucuses significant) and, more importantly, draw in significant numbers of conservative and moderate Republicans and independents while doing so.

Conservative bloggers like Hugh Hewitt and NRO’s Kathryn Jean Lopez (both of whom have attached themselves so firmly to Romney’s butt that neither can seem to see or think clearly anymore) seem to think that Romney is the only true conservative who can save the Republican party in 2008. They’re wrong. The fact is, of the leading contenders for the GOP nomination (John McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Romney), it is Romney who performs most poorly in polls against either of the likely Democratic nominees, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Sure, polls are only polls, but the fact is, if the GOP is going to take the White House this November their candidate simply must show an ability to attact more than just conservative Republicans – something Romney simply hasn’t done thus far.

As the weeks tick down through the primary season, watch for “electability” to slowly creep in as the leading quality every candidate for President – on both sides – will need to prove. For the Democrats, that candidate will be Barack Obama, as, New Hampshire aside, voters once more begin to take a second, harder look at Hillary’s incredibly-high negatives. On the GOP side, there seems little question of McCain’s ability to draw from a variety of voters, and sooner or later even conservative Republicans – like him or not – are going to have to begin taking that into consideration. In Romney’s case, right now he appears to be the least electable of the top GOP candidates.

Both Hewitt and Lopez believe Romney is the only true conservative of the top three, and therefore deserves to be the party’s standard-bearer come the fall. Romney may, in fact, be the most conservative all right, but my question to them would be, what good is that if he can’t beat Obama or Clinton in the general election? Sure, you save the GOP from McCain’s rogueish and Huckabee’s “neo-populist” tendencies, but for what? To get your clock cleaned?

Hewitt has been bemoaning the fact that Michigan’s Republican primary is open to independents and anyone who chooses to change his party affiliation. But in Romney’s case, I think this is a good thing, as we will see just how much (or if) he is able to tailor his economic message enough to attract Michigan independents and moderates to his candidacy. If he continues to draw only from conservative Republicans, McCain will win handily and Romney will once again finish second.

And if that happens, there goes his firewall. If that happens, Romney is finished.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:18 | Comments (0)
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