Mitt Romney has at least one thing in common with Hillary Clinton of 2008: They began as front-runners, with support from their party establishments. Does that mean the former Massachusetts governor will suffer the same fate as the current secretary of State?
offers the best arguments for yes and no.
- Clinton was stuck with her unpopular 2002 vote in favor of the Iraq war, and that was a key issue in the early part of the campaign. Similarly, Romney’s healthcare plan in Massachusetts, whatever its differences with the 2010 healthcare reform, will link him to Obamacare.
- Romney, like Clinton before him, is being accused of having no firm principles. When he was governor of Massachusetts, Romney supported gay rights, abortion, and gun control, before switching sides. “Hillary Clinton had an authenticity problem, and so does Mitt Romney,” Republican strategist Mark McKinnon told The Hill. GOP strategist Keith Appell told The Hill, “The Romney campaign wishes it had as much of an air of inevitability as Hillary did four years ago. The healthcare issue is a symptom of a greater concern: He has been on so many sides of so many issues so recently, and it’s all available on video.”
- Romney can learn from how Clinton has handled her difficulties, McKinnon said. “Clinton has evolved, and her perception now as a competent leader makes up for any other perceived deficiencies.”
- Clinton faced an extremely formidable candidate in Barack Obama. It’s not clear yet whether any of Romney’s challengers will rise to that level.
- Voters in 2008 were sick and tired of having either a Bush or a Clinton in the presidency since 1989. Given the country’s economic woes of the past four years, voters might take well to Romney’s aura of business competence.
- Republicans historically have felt much less affinity for maverick candidates than Democrats. During the past 50 years, the only outsider to win the GOP nomination was Barry Goldwater in 1964, notes Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “Republicans have been fairly hierarchical in their presidential nominations,” he told The Hill. “The last 50 years of Republican nominations argues in favor of Romney.”
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