Veteran political strategist Roger Stone says Mitt Romney is a weak front-runner in the Republican presidential race and his nomination could cost the GOP support from the tea party movement.
“Romney’s refusal to reach out to tea parties in an effort to preserve his more moderate persona for the general election could still cost him the nomination,” Stone observes on his StoneZone.com website.
Romney is not winning more than 30 percent of the Republican vote anywhere outside New Hampshire, Stone adds, “making him a weak front-runner.
Romney has been hurt by a video showing him as a Senate candidate attacking Ronald Reagan and expressing support for abortion and affirmative action, Stone noted. Also, Romney supported a Massachusetts liberal Democrat, Paul Tsongas, over President George H.W. Bush in 1992.
“If Romney is nominated, any increased acceptability to moderates would be more than offset with a lack of enthusiasm and absent votes from the tea parties and the conservative right,” Stone writes.
The longtime Republican consultant surveyed the rest of the GOP presidential field:
- Rick Perry has $55 million in his Super Pac and will have $20 million in his campaign to spend and “exceed expectations in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire. He must also hope for the decline of Herman Cain.”
- Michele Bachmann is now “quietly colluding” with Romney to prevent a Perry win in Iowa. But her strategy of attacking Perry instead of Romney “has to be the most bone-headed piece of strategic thinking I have ever encountered. The way to win the hearts of conservatives is to demonstrate you are the strongest candidate to take on the national Republican establishment candidate Mitt Romney.”
- Herman Cain has “deftly grabbed the outsider mantle and tea party enthusiasm.” His campaign is headed by Mark Block, who worked with Stone at the Committee to Re-elect the President in 1972 and who “knows he must translate Cain’s surge into votes at the caucus and on primary night.”
- Newt Gingrich has helped the party focus on the need for unity to defeat President Obama. “He continues to look like the adult in the race and yet has little chance to be nominated.”
- Ron Paul’s fervent following siphons off conservative votes Perry and Bachmann need. Stone suggests that the other GOP candidates should insist on allowing former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson into the debates to dilute Paul’s support. If Johnson is denied access to the debates, Stone adds, he could seek the Libertarian Party nomination for president.
- Jon Huntsman’s campaign is $1 million in the red. But his father, Jon Huntsman Sr., is “no political neophyte” and was a fund-raiser for Richard Nixon’s 1968 comeback drive for the White House, as well as Special Assistant to President Nixon. “It is a mystery how Huntsman Sr. can continue to allow the mis-positioning of his son as a ‘moderate,’” Stone says, “destroying any short or long-term possibility he has of being nominated for president in the Republican Party.”
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