Saturday, April 07, 2007

Hamburger, Not Steak

Mitt Romney isn't going to be the Republican presidential nominee.

There, that wasn't so hard, was it? So why is barely anyone else saying it?

Romney has raised huge money. He's got an impressive background as a competent businessman-turned-politician, who won in liberal Massachusetts no less, and gods know he's got the look and the hair.

But in the end he will turn out to be a politician who looked much better on paper than he ended up being in reality. Despite all his money, media interest, seemingly sound strategy of going after conservatives who feel unrepresented by any major candidates, and that impressive resume, he is simply not making the sale.

He has been hovering in the single digits in polling, and the latest USA Today/Gallup poll puts him at 3 percent. All that money is a nice thing to have, but politics has shown time and again that big dollars rarely create a win for an undesirable candidate.

What makes Romney undesirable? His shifts in opinion are well-chronicled, and while voters should allow for principled evolution and even some change that results from moving from a small to large stage, Romney's shifts are too many, too recent, and too inexplicable. He is simply too obvious in his nomination strategy, and he comes off as a man without any grounding. In a race against Rudy Giuliani and especially John McCain, the differences are too stark.

Romney adds to his problems by somehow simultaneously appearing calculated, yet still too often saying the wrong thing. His recent multi-gaffe performance to the heavily Cuban Miami-Dade GOP (and subsequent attempt to cover it up) aside, his reputation in Massachusetts was similar. He doesn't seem to have a good instinct for this sort of thing.

I don't know how much his religion (Mormon) will lose him votes, but I suspect it will not much hurt him (although specific religious statements he may make could do so).

Romney is not a terrible candidate by any means. Much of his positive bio is real and compelling. But I just don't see him being The Guy.

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