First of all I will say this, I respect and admire former Gov. Mitt Romney. I also think that the negatives which some are attaching to his run due to his religious views are despicable, particularly when they are hurled by “some” of the Evangelical parts of the Republican caucas. The same holds true for Sen. McCain, as I have often posted, and former Speaker Gingrich.
That being said it may be time for Mr. Romney to make way for some of the candidates who are faring little worse than he to get some of the limelight from the Conservative elements of the GOP. Romney is going absolutely nowhere in the polls, and with the accelerated schedule of the primaries, this is a dire sign for his candidacy. He fails to attract Conservatives for two reasons, a bias against his religion and a perception that he is a “flip-flopper” over the hot button issues, which are litmus tests for the more crystalized right base, stem cells, gay marriage and abortion. Romney’s embrace by Conservatives will be lukewarm and best, and I suspect that the Mormonism is a larger factor than the other positions. Although Romney has chased after their affections like a young man trying to get a date for the prom, he is viewed by the best looking girls at the dance as a face riddle by acne, who is a pretender for their affections. He has had awhile to woo over the base, and it will not happen. Can Newt Gingrich, who is not even in the race, consistently polling higher than Romney make the news any plainer to the former Bay State Governor? Time to look at the polls, and smell the coffee!
Romney’s problems are in due in part to the pipe dream that Newt Gingrich will make a run, which is more and more remote. Even if he does run his admission of further infidelities will hurt him with the base, and even moreso with the general population, due to his high profile criticism of President Clinton and the Lewinsky/Paula Jones scandal. Gingrich has many wonderful ideas, and may best serve the GOP as a one man think tank of ideas. His negatives preclude him from ever being considered a candidate, as is shown by the USA/Gallup Poll where a whopping 49% have negative opinions about the former Speaker of the House, which are even higher than Senator Hillary Clinton’s negative rating of 45%. The American public do not really like Mr. Gingrich, and his nomination would all but assure a Democratic victory in ’08. While he may have some “right ideas” -interpret how you like- he is the wrong guy.
There are large blocs of the base of the GOP which will never accept John McCain due to his positions on campaign finance reform, illegal immigration, public spats with the Administration in the past, the feeling that he “isn’t one of them”, and the Senator’s woeful numbers in the polls continues to cast doubt about his ability to secure the nomination. Only one major poll, American Research Group, has the Az. Senator gaining over 30%, and he trails front-runner Mayor Rudy Giuliani by an aggregate of major polls by 16%. The public knows Sen. McCain well, they just are not willing to pick him, and some would pick anyone but him.
This shows the status of any who would challenge, the admittedly moderate former NYC mayor. McCain’s numbers are dropping faster than the price of shares in a stock market scare, Romney’s campaign sputters like my first car a 1969 Gremlin, and Gringrich loses what little mandate from the hard right to run as he sits on the sidelines. Meanwhile, former Mayor Giuliani is gaining support from elements of the right from both pragmatists and those who genuinely like the man. He is also picking up support from independents as is shown by many polls. One such poll, shows that 67% view him as ideologically correct or conservative, compared to only 16% saying he is too liberal. Importantly this poll shows high support among Independents. This is also shown that in my home state, many Independents are joining the GOP for the sole purpose of supporting Giuliani in the primary. While Giuliani may not fire up some of the base, he is a bringing a good deal of hope to GOP moderates.
There are a whole group of candidates who are being blocked by the B List candidates. Among them are Sen. Thompson, who would be very appealing to many conservatives, Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark) has many innovative ideas towards education and health care, Sen. Sam Brownback did well in the CPAC straw poll, and has solid stands for the base, and possibly Tom Tancredo/Duncan Hunter, who have a hot button issue, Illegal Immigration to serve as a basis to at least get name recognition to the Party at large. However, Gingrich, Romney and McCain may have clogged up the GOP highway towards being recognized as a part of the B list, which may in effect put Rudy Giuliani with a head-lock for the nomination. In many minds, he “is” the de facto nominee.