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, 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 six weeks away.
Truth be told, Ronald Reagan was the last quality Republican candidate, which was over three decades ago. Why such a drought? Because the Republican establishment prefers coronations over elections, strong-arming nominations for those with big wallets and whose “turn it is.”
Look how they fared since Reagan’s 49-state near sweep in 1984: Bob Dole and John McCain got drilled. George Bush 1 was elected only because of Reagan’s legacy and the fact that Michael Dukakis was an even weaker candidate. And George W. Bush in many ways proved disastrous, paving the way for Barack Obama.
Given the president’s dismal performance, this election should be a slam dunk for Republicans. It is the GOP’s to lose, and, unfathomably, that may well happen.
Mitt’s wealth and access to big donors made party leaders come down with amnesia, forgetting the debacle four years ago when Romney lost to McCain, whose campaign was bankrupt.
By pushing Mitt again, the establishment also forgot something else: listening to the rank-and-file. And that mistake became an embarrassment, as seven of 10 routinely voted “No” on Romney, even after he locked up the nomination.
It got so bad that Romney received only 16 percent in Minnesota, placing third, down from his 41 percent, first-place finish in 2008 against a much stronger field.
Such abysmal results, after campaigning for six years, should have been a clue.
It’s bad enough that Romney is viewed warily by many because of his wealth and Mormon religion, but he has done little to improve his standing among his base, let alone the middle who always decide elections. Consider:
- Romney is arguably the biggest flip-flopper of all time. And not just on the guns and abortion, but on virtually everything. He couldn’t even decide whether to release his tax returns, which is unfathomable since A) he ran before B) his father pioneered the concept, and C) he knew it would come up again. 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 won’t support someone perceived to lack core convictions. By contrast, the president’s convictions have been on full display. He promised nationalized healthcare, increased spending, a larger, more regulatory government, higher taxes on the rich, and a pullout in 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.
- Has it dawned on Mitt that instead of writing off half the country, he might take a page from the Reagan playbook, winning the hearts and minds with ideas that benefit everybody?
- Give Romney the benefit of the doubt that he would be an effective president. His problem is getting there. Obama may be an unpopular chief executive, but he is a stellar campaigner. And since this is a campaign, that’s all that matters.
- No one “likes” Romney. That isn’t a cheap shot, but a fact reflected in every likability poll. And make no mistake. Many vote 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 “relate-ability” — does this candidate understand our issues, from college affordability to job security? 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, 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.
An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Friendly Fire Zone. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.
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