|02-11-2008, 08:05 PM||#1|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Jan 2006
Right man, wrong time.
great column on Romney, his campaign, and why it failed. Sorry, don't have a link, got it in an email.
Right man, wrong time
Romney a victim of circumstances
David Frum, National Post
Published: 2/8/2008 12:00:00 AM
It's been a long time since there was a Republican presidential candidate like Mitt Romney.
In recent years, Republican presidential candidates have dealt in soaring rhetoric and heroic themes. The grubby details of policy they left to the Democrats.
Mr. Romney was made of very different stuff. He could enthrall a roomful of CEOs and economists with his mastery of economic details. Watching him absorb information was like watching an ultra-powerful wet vac deal with a garage spill. SHLOOOOOP --in it goes!
At the very beginning of his campaign, I watched him wow such a crowd with a line-byline explication of his health care plan. They were impressed not only by his mastery of facts and figures, but even more by his careful, cautious decision-making style.
You could almost feel them think: "If this man had been in charge, no way would Iraq be such a mess."
But if the CEOs and the economists liked Mr. Romney, the Republican primary electorate never warmed to him. Why not?
The shape of Mr. Romney's appeal explains his problems.
Mr. Romney ran as the conservative candidate. That strategy worked, up to a point. In states like New Hampshire, Michigan and California, he won a plurality of the conservative vote. But while northern and western conservatives accepted Mr. Romney, southern conservatives preferred former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
So Mr. Romney lost conservative votes to Mr. Huckabee in the conservative South, and lost moderates and independents to John McCain in the less conservative North and West.
So far, this looks like a simple political squeeze play, with Mr. Romney being crowded from the right by Mr. Huckabee and from the left by Mr. Mc-Cain. Yet that is not quite right. After all, polls suggested that Huckabee voters preferred the supposedly less conservative Mr. McCain as their second choice to the supposedly more conservative Mr. Romney.
Some have interpreted this preference as religious prejudice: Mr. Huckabee's heavily evangelical voters simply refusing to vote for a Mormon candidate for president.
Others suggest that economics may be the real fault line. Mr. Huckabee joked that his voters wanted a candidate who reminded them of the people they worked with -- not the guy who laid them off. And Mr. Romney did score best among upper-income Republicans.
But here's a third theory: "Change" has been the great theme of this primary season. And Republican voters want change almost as much as Democrats do.
Mr. McCain won the votes of those Republicans who expressed dissatisfaction with the Bush presidency. They remembered Mr. McCain as a fierce opponent of George W. Bush in 2000, as one of Mr. Bush's leading adversaries in Congress in 2001 and 2002, and as an unrelenting (and prophetic) critic of the administration's Iraq strategy.
Mr. Huckabee, too, was an anti-Bush in his populist economics.
Mr. Romney by contrast fell into the role of Mr. Bush's successor. He won the votes of Republicans who wanted to continue the policies of the Bush administration -- and there just were not enough of those.
It's ironic: In his decision-making style, Mr. Romney of all the candidates running resembled Mr. Bush the least. Mr. Bush often described himself as a gut player. He made snap decisions and then held to them stubbornly.
Not so Mr. Romney. Analytic and data-driven, always prepared to change his mind when circumstances change, Mr. Romney really would have been the MBA president George W. Bush promised to be. (They overlapped at Harvard, where Mr. Romney was an academic star -- and Mr. Bush was best remembered for chewing tobacco in class.)
It was Mr. Romney, too, who most strongly dissented from the Bush policy unpopular in his party: immigration amnesty and an open-door policy.
Unfortunately for Mr. Romney, Republican voters are also gut players. Something about the sleek, well-spoken CEO reminded them of a past they wanted to leave behind. Mr. Bush's antithesis in person, he became Mr. Bush's stand-in on the campaign trail.
Everything negative stuck to him. He was ridiculed for changing his past positions on abortion and gay rights. Yet both Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Mc-Cain had resumes full of abrupt reversals:Mr. McCain, who had opposed the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, now promises to renew them; Mr. Huckabee, who had supported the Bush amnesty plan, converted himself to an immigration hawk almost overnight.
It's too bad. Mr. Romney was never a compelling candidate. But he would have made a fine president.
On the other hand, if 2008 ends for the GOP as badly as it has begun, he may yet get his chance. For as the triumph of Mr. McCain reminds us, there is no surer path to the Republican nomination next time than to finish second the time before
|02-11-2008, 08:35 PM||#2|
Don't Argue With Me
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Austin, TX
If the problem was his Mormonism, he'll never gain the traction he needs to win the White House. I think his problem was that the platform he was running on was too different from his actual performance as Massachussetts governor to trust what he said he would do. That and some people felt he was just too "perfect", to the point where he seemed phony.