Monday, March 19, 2012

Meanwhile, South of the Border

Despite a pair of humiliating set-backs in Alabama and Mississippi last week, Mitt Romney is still on course to stumble over the finish line in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Despite an overwhelming desire to find anyone else up to the job, the Anybody But Romney options have imploded one by one - first Bachman, then Perry, then Cain, then Gingrich. When Rick Santorum is the only alternative left standing, you know you're scraping the bottom of the barrel. So it's no surprise that the delegate math is still heavily in Romney's favour, and that the election stock markets still peg him as an 89% favourite to win the nomination.

But his odds of taking the White House are far less than that, despite Obama's lackluster approval ratings. Although Romney is routinely described as the most "electable" Republican in the field, he has two glaring flaws that should ensure Obama's re-election.

Flaw 1. Romney reminds me of John Kerry v 2.0 - he flips, he flops, he lacks convictions. Voters want a leader who stands for something and, unlike the rest of the Republican field, it's unclear what Romney believes in. Just as Kerry's past made it difficult for him to attack Bush on Iraq, Romney's past makes it difficult for him to criticize Obamacare. It's going to be very difficult to attack Obama's Health Care model during debates, when Obama just needs to smile and thank Mitt for providing the Massachusetts model it was based on.

Romney's wishy washineness has allowed him to get pulled into issues that are better left dormant. The only thing making contraception a major election issue accomplishes, is energizing Democrats who were otherwise indifferent to this election after being let down by Obama.

Flaw 2. The one issue Romney may be able to ride to the White House is the economy, but Romney's business background only highlights his second fatal flaw - his inability to relate. Say what you will about them, but the one thing Barack Obama, George W Bush, and Bill Clinton were all able to do was connect with voters. So while Obama is sinking three pointers and cracking jokes this fall, expect more awkwardness from Romney, in line with his "$10,000 bet", "I'm not concerned about the very poor" and "some of my friends own NASCAR teams" Richie Rich moments.

If Obama wants to take on Wall Street and the top 1% this election, he couldn't have designed a better opponent. After all, you can't spell Romney without "money".

So while Democrats may be hoping for divine intervention to deliver them a Santorum nomination, they really should be counting their blessings that Romney will be the nominee. He may look like a formidable opponent, but Romney is the perfect foil for Obama to be up against.

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