Mitt Romney’s weaknesses have been front and center in the Republican presidential campaign. Less discussed but no less important are his opponents’ weaknesses. None of Romney’s rivals has shown the breadth of appeal to be a true threat to win the party’s nomination.
For months now, the restless Republican search for a Not-Mitt -- a Great Red Hope -- has been described as the central dynamic of the GOP race. But I don't think that is really the story. The real reason so many Republican primary voters are holding their noses, gritting their teeth and still voting for Romney is there's simply no other qualified candidate who is running.No, it's not over, any more than a 15 run lead in the seventh inning at Fenway is, but yes, it is. Two months ago, I listed the four reasons Romney would be the nominee: Santorum, Perry, Gingrich and Paul. What's changed? Nothing.
That is the real story.
Put aside Mitt Romney’s wife’s Cadillacs and Rick Santorum’s fringe fetishes, and the Republican predicament as we head toward Super Tuesday is clear. Despite Romney’s wins Tuesday, the GOP is cracking up because the party’s most fervent supporters are misguided or clueless about what the country needs to do to solve its biggest problems, and none of the Republican candidates has the wit or courage to tell them. We are watching a party implode at the hands of its base.Last week, I wrote: "The Republican problem, which the media has to dance around in order to sell their product, is the Republican primary voter." Yes, there's something wrong with their base, and no, there's nothing wrong with pointing it out.
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum fought each other to nearly a draw in the Michigan primary and may actually have to split its delegates, but together they may have lost Michigan for their party by running campaigns that were completely disconnected from the lives of middle-class voters and pushed ever farther to the right margins of American politics.NY Times:
“Everybody’s got to rethink how we approach legislating and governance in the United States Senate,” Ms. Snowe said in an interview on Wednesday. She shook her head at how “we’ve miniaturized the process in the United States Senate,” no longer allowing lawmakers to shape or change legislation and turning every vote into a take-it-or-leave-it showdown intended to embarrass the opposition.WaPo editorial:
VIRGINIA’S GENERAL ASSEMBLY, 82 percent of whose members are men and 3 percent of whose members are physicians, has taken upon itself the task of ordering up procedures between women and their doctors — specifically, ultrasounds for women seeking abortions.TPM:
The purpose of this exercise in coercion is to discourage women from ending their pregnancies. Forced on the legislature by anti-abortion lawmakers, nearly all of them Republicans, it is a prime example of ideology, nanny-state paternalism and arrogance trumping plain good sense.
Top Republicans are working overtime to mask palpable concern within their party over a Thursday Senate vote to roll back an Obama administration rule requiring most employers to provide workers with contraceptive coverage in their health benefits.Remember the old saw about the Democrats ignoring their base and the Republicans fearing theirs? From The Times to Snowe to TPM, everyone knows how this will end, and not well for the GOP. Reminds you a little of the payroll tax cave in the House, don't it? Except this time, the GOP can't cave. They can't. No one in their base will vote for them in November if they do, and at this rate, they lose tremendous amounts of independent and a goodly number of R votes if they don't. Who wants to be them?
Yet despite a growing sense that the GOP has veered into politically dangerous territory, a full-scale retreat would embarrass the party, and alienate a powerful segment of its conservative base. And that’s left Republicans little choice but to press ahead, illustrating the dangers they’ll face if election year politicking turns further from the economy toward culture war fights that voters thought were settled decades ago.
Maybe Rick Santorum is helping Mitt Romney after all: Santorum’s wacky statements about college and snobbery, along with his upset stomach over a 52-year-old John F. Kennedy speech, are distracting attention from Romney’s extremist economic ideas.Charles Blow:
So far, the base of the Republican party has sent Mitt Romney a message: They’re not yet convinced that he’s their guy.Ed Rogers:
Tuesday, on the verge of his victories in Arizona and Michigan, Romney, in extraordinarily blunt terms, told the base how he felt about them:
It’s very easy to excite the base with incendiary comments. We’ve seen throughout the campaign if you’re willing to say really outrageous things that are accusative, attacking of President Obama, that you’re going to jump up in the polls. I’m not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support. I am who I am.I must admit, I was stunned by this. In one statement he was able to label the Republican base as easily excitable, enamored of “incendiary comments,” and thirsty for “outrageous things” to be said about President Obama. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Romney still has his challenges, but no one thinks he would create a debacle in November. For the first time, I heard an informed pol say that we would have a better loss with Romney than we would with Santorum. This experienced campaign hand went on to say that we could lose much of the suburbs with Santorum and less so with Romney.That’s not exactly good news for the GOP, but it was interesting to hear.See all of the above posts. If Republican strategists think this is a winning strategy in November, we should be paying their salary.