Peals, Rumblings, and Flashes: The Front-Runner?
In any primary presidential horse-race, the media likes to follow the front-runner for whichever nomination is sought. In 1972, the mainstream media had written off candidate George McGovern, who became the eventual nominee. Part of his base was mobilized by the coverage of Hunter S. Thompson of Rolling Stone at the height of his Gonzo mastery. In 2008, former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney was considered the front-runner for much of the lead up to the Republican primary elections. Arizona Senator John McCain was written off as finished, his staff had quit and he’d had trouble raising money. Yet, even before Super Tuesday, Senator McCain had secured the nomination and Romney was sent packing for four more years.
I think it is safe to say that Romney was elated when Obama won the election, I even think he might have voted for him. While Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and other potential 2012 candidates flocked to jobs at Fox News, Romney stayed away from that. He wrote a book and donated the proceeds to charity. That he was running again in 2012 seemed inevitable.
The problem Romney faces is that he just isn’t very likable. He is tall, square-jawed, and a full head of hair – he looks like someone who would play the President in a movie. Still, there is something about Candidate Romney that turns off voters in a big way. As the field of candidates widened, Romney never panicked. Despite the upheaval and intensity of the Republican base, Romney realized that he was one of the best candidates to draw in those independent voters that make all the difference. Candidates like Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Michele Bachmann were attractive to the far-right, but seemed far too conservative to last against general-election-level scrutiny. Texas Congressman Ron Paul, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich are attempting to be serious candidates, but were all deemed unelectable by the media. Texas Governor Rick Perry was brought in like a mid-season trade with high promise, but has underperformed and embarrassed himself over and over again. That Romney should win the nomination seems inevitable to Romney.
Currently Gingrich holds the top spot in the polls. At the last Republican debate in Iowa, Romney tried to squash an accusation from Perry by betting him $10,000. Perry, a consummate Christian, said he’s not “in the bettin’ business.” And Romney only convinced voters that he was more of an out-of-touch rich guy than they had previously though. In an interview posted on the Politico website, Romney says that even if he loses he wins, because he has a good life to go back to. Is he conceding defeat or merely trying to appear reasonable. In the coming weeks before the first caucuses and primaries, Romney has to invigorate the base with an excitement that he has currently been unable to tap into. He may be the logical choice, but voters in an election year with economic troubles and in the midst of war are rarely, if ever, logical.
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