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Friday, April 06, 2007

GOP's JFK? Why Romney Might Win (extended)

(Editor's Note: On my Wednesday guest blog over at 1% More Conscious, I wrote a 500 word piece on Mitt Romney. Due to a restrictive word limit, I was left with a lot of words on the cutting room floor. I've decided to extend the piece closer to 1000 words and post it here.)

Of the six major announced candidates (Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Giuliani, McCain, and Romney) in the race for the 2008 White House, it has seemed for some time that Romney was the least renowned and ranked last in that group in likelihood to win their party's nomination. It cannot be stated strongly enough: Mitt Romney is a legitimate candidate. Do not be surprised if he is accepting the GOP's nomination at next year's Republican Convention.

The reason for his lack of name recognition is obvious. He was a governor tucked away in the northeast. He never voted on a national bill like the four Senators in the group. His actions do not show up in every newspaper across the country. The other non-Senator of the sextet is Rudy Giuliani, and he wouldn't even be a candidate were it not for this country's national tragedy.

Due to the lack of national exposure throughout his term, Romney has been flying under the radar. Political insiders understand his potential, while those who don't pay attention to the political scene don't even know who he is yet. This, of course, explains his poor showing in polls, where he falls behind the likes of Newt Gingrich, Sam Brownback, and I think William Jennings Bryan.

This lack of acknowledgement will not last. He is a part of the Republican "Big Three" for a reason. He can win this thing. Here is a list of reasons as to why Mitt Romney's campaign could do very well.

1. Money. Not only does Romney, as a successful former business executive, have a large amount of personal capital, but he has two key strengths in the ability of fundraising. First, he has a plethora of business contacts from his work in the private sector. Second, the two frontrunners for the Republican Party raise some (McCain) or a lot (Giuliani) of red flags with the conservative base. With true, life long conservatives like Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback not seeming to be viable candidates, Mitt Romney's current conservative platform is the right wing's best bet to get one of their own elected. While his historical political stances show that he is not as staunch of a conservative as he currently claims, ever since he's left the gubenatorial mansion he's said the right things to the base of the party.

Therefore, the big spenders of the right wing will spend big dollars on the Romney campaign. He's the most conservative viable candidate.

The proof of Romney's fundraising capabilities was evident in the recent disclosures of first quarter earnings for presidential campaigns. Romney shattered Republican fundraising records, and was the only Republican thus far to raise more than 20 million dollars.

2. Process of Elimination. McCain and Giuliani each raised less than Romney, but they have other distinct disadvantages. The leader in the polls, Rudy Giuliani, is unlikely to survive the meticulous vetting process of the Republican Primary cycle. Sooner or later, his liberal stances on abortion, gay marriage, and gun control will take a chunk out of his polling numbers. Moreover, the inevitable "family values" issues that motivate so many voters will submarine his chances. He's had two messy divorces and his son doesn't speak with him. Giuliani has come out of the gate full speed ahead and is destined to run out of gas before the finish line.

McCain, on the other hand, is like a hummer with its back wheels spinning in mud. This campaign can be very dangerous. It has the potential to be a wrecking machine, but it just can't seem to get going. The Iraq issue has been devastating, holding a usually terrific fundraiser like McCain to third place in the Money Primary. If Iraq doesn't turn the corner, Senator McCain will have a difficult time turning the corner himself.

3. History. Not since John Kennedy in 1960 has there been a Senator elected to office (and not since 1920 before that!). The rest have been Vice-Presidents (Bush I, Nixon, Johnson), and governors (strong recent trend of Bush II, Clinton, Reagan, Carter). Of the Big Six candidates, Clinton, Obama, and McCain are sitting Senators. John Edwards is a former Senator. Rudy Giuliani's highest office was mayor, a position that never vaulted anyone to the Presidency. That leaves Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.

To rely on history in this area is not unfounded mysticsm. It is not inexplicable coincidence that only one Senator in twenty-wo elections came from the Senate. There's a reason. United States Senators are continually casting votes in Washington. This, of course, does not cease if one is in a Presidential campaign. These votes go on records. These records are available to the entire country. Often times, Senators vote for what is best for their local constituents from their home state. And what is good for say, New York, is not always good for, I don't know, the entire Midwest. Therefore, if a northeast Senator were to place a vote against a federal subsidy for ethanol, there is absolutely no chance Iowa will support that Senator in a national election, and similar states will follow suit. Thus is the difficulty of a U.S. Senator running for President.

4. The Romney's look the part. Have you seen this family? White, good looking, athletic, great smiles, photogenic. Not since the Kennedy's has there been quite such a made-for-magazine-covers family. And with Giuliani toting his family values baggage, and the Clintons having their obvious history, and McCain being a divorcee himself who cheated on an ailing spouse, and Obama's family not looking like any family in Presidential history, that leaves only Romney and Edwards.

5. Mormonism can be worked around. In September 1960, Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy delivered a speech where he defended his Catholicism as a personal choice that he would not push on the American people. Read the speech, it's brilliant. Now, 48 years later, Mitt Romney, the politician from Massachusetts, can make similar overtures in regards to his Mormonism.

Am I saying he’s going to win? No. I’m still leaning towards McCain, but would not be surprised by a Romney victory. It's a legitimate three-way race in both parties. That’s what makes this so fun!
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