Opinion: Whoa! Romney isn’t meant to do this badly

I am getting worried.

A few weeks ago I was sure that Mitt Romney would win the US Republican Presidential nomination. He’d be nicely battered and bruised and the Democrats would have a fat file of YouTube and news clips to use against him (“I like firing people“/”I am not concerned about the very poor“/”Let Detroit go bankrupt” etc). But he would win.

However, it is now becoming possible that he might not win the nomination. Oh dear. Rick Santorum has been ahead in a string of national polls and is fourish points ahead in Michigan. Yes, Michigan, where Romney’s father was Governor and which Romney (sort of) claims as a “sort of” home state.

Veteran commentator Walter Shapiro has put it all very pithily:

THE MITT ROMNEY CRISIS transcends the seven straight national polls showing Rick Santorum in the lead. It goes beyond the embarrassing reality that the son of an auto executive and two-term governor has been behind in every Michigan poll conducted since Groundhog’s Day. Even more devastating for Romney is that elite Republicans have begun to conclude that he cannot, if nominated, beat Barack Obama. About the only argument that still works for Romney among GOP insiders is that he would be less of a drag on the ticket than the strident Santorum or the mercurial Newt Gingrich.

With the exception of Mike Dukakis (what is it about governors of Massachusetts?), it is impossible to recall a top-tier presidential contender who aroused such little passion among the voters.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist in Newbury and West Berkshire. He is part of the Liberal Democrat Voice team and blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Andrew Tennant 20th Feb '12 - 7:46pm

    In any country but America Santorum, a religious extremist with immensely conservative views, would be completely unelectable. I hope he’s unelectable in the US too, but I’m beginning to worry. Mostly about the intelligence of American voters…

  • The longer they are fighting amongst themselves the better. Once they are done doing that they can stop being ridiculously right wing and start appealing to Americans that aren’t in the Tea Party – they won’t win either way, but if they fight amogst themselves long enough they will end up bringing down the whole Republican Parties reputation and hopefully damage their senators and representatives.

  • Keith Browning 21st Feb '12 - 9:44am

    Even Fox News doesn’t know what is going on, or who to support. They normally try to manage these things but their various commentators are now giving very diverse opinions about how it will end. There seems to be plenty of kite-flying, hoping a new and electable candidate appears from somewhere. Is there a George Bush III waiting in the wings?

  • Santorum has got to be easier for Obama to beat. I’d be more concerned about someone electable emerging from the woodwork; Jeb Bush?

  • Joseph Donnelly 21st Feb '12 - 4:00pm

    Theres a debate on CNN at 1am our time that you should be able to get online if anyone is interested. The first debate in 3 weeks and the last for a while and its just before Michigan and Super Tuesday so should be good. Interesting to see if Gingrich can replicate his pre South Carolina performances.

  • Chris Nelson 22nd Feb '12 - 12:21am

    There has been some talk in the US press from an “unnamed” US Senator that suggests that if Romney loses Michigan and Arizona by big margins, there will be a call for someone else to join the race – with that Senator mentioning Jeb Bush. On the back of that, Jeb Bush has apparently been placed as the third favourite by the bookies,

    At the moment it seems to me to be little more than talk or grumblings – but if such an outcome were to happen, it would make for interesting times. Jeb Bush is, allegedly, more electable than either Santorum or Gingrich – but with a name like Bush, his candidacy would probably be a golden ticket for Obama to link him to the same economic legacy of his brother that worked so well for Obama in 2008.

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