Many are already betting on Obama winning reelection, regardless of whether or not they like him.
The only interesting Republican aspirant was John Huntsman, Jr. The former US ambassador to China, Huntsman was vilified by fellow Republicans for cooperating with the enemy — Obama, not China. Something's gone really wrong when people view our president as more of a threat than China. Huntsman sealed his fate by admitting that he trusted scientists on evolution and global warming.
So we got left with Romney. Really, the Republicans didn't have a choice. Despite the fanaticism of his supporters Ron Paul was never going to win the nomination. Gingrich is too volatile, Santorum too offensive even for Republicans, Bachman is batshit crazy and everyone else was pretty much a sideshow. By rejecting the only viable candidate, the Republicans had to make do with what they had and they didn't have much. They're still pretty pissed off about it.
Of course, if Romney had even an ounce of personal charisma, he might have overcome some of the issues, but he doesn't, so he has to fall back on the issues. Turns out he can't do that, either. For example, his record is pretty much off limits. When he was governor of Massachusetts, here are a few of his accomplishments:
- Signed "Romneycare" into law. It's not much different from Obama's health care reform.
- He hired illegal immigrants to do yard work.
- Was pro-abortion, changed his mind, then stated he would uphold Massachusetts' abortion laws, and is now anti-abortion again.
- Endorsed legalization of abortion pill RU-486.
- Actively supported gay rights, including non-discrimination laws and civil union laws.
- Backed the Brady bill (limits access to some firearms).
- Signed a permanent statewide ban on assault weapons.
- Massachusetts fared worse economically than rest of the nation.
- Raised state fees and taxes.
- Dramatic increase in state spending.
- Refused to endorse Bush tax cuts.
- Supported amnesty for illegal immigrants.
- Supported government action against global warming.
- Described himself as a social progressive.
- Business career was largely based on ending jobs.
- No foreign policy experience.
I could go on, but aside from a few obvious problems, Romney is clearly a man that Democrats could have lined up behind. No wonder the Republicans don't like him. What's worse, now that it's clear Romney will be the nominee, they're beating the hell out of him. The Democrats could practically keep their mouths shut and let the Republicans do the dirty work. You know you're struggling as a Republican candidate when Rupert Murdoch is publicly badmouthing you.
Unsurprisingly, he's been labeled an opportunist and, given the huge amount of money he's made and the fact that he's had millions of dollars in Swiss and Cayman Island accounts, he's been taking a lot of heat for refusing to release more than two years of tax returns (one is still not released and the other one is allegedly lacking his FATCA declaration). There's also a fair amount of speculation that he won't release because he claimed the 2009 amnesty for having a non-disclosed Swiss account. That would let him off the hook legally, but no one would vote for a self-confessed tax dodger. And it's not just Democrats tearing into him. Republicans left and right have lined up and said that Romney needs to release his returns to avoid the perception of hiding something:
- Republicans George Will and Matthew Dowd said Romney should release his tax returns
- Republican strategist Rick Tyler said Romney should release his tax returns
- Republican Governor Robert Bentley said Romney should release his tax returns.
- Ron Paul said Romney should release his tax returns
- Governor Rick Perry said Romney should release his tax returns
- Bill Kristol said Romney should release his tax returns
- Michael Steel said Romney should release his tax returns
- Republican strategist Ann Navarro said Romney should release his tax returns
- Republican Congressman Walter Jones said Romney should release his tax returns
Note that is not an exhaustive list, but Romney has boxed himself in here. From a Huffington Post report (emphasis mine):
It doesn't help that when Romney was running against Kennedy in 1994, he demanded Kennedy release his tax returns to prove he "has nothing to hide." (Romney has since stated that he was wrong to do so).
In fact, according to people close to the situation, Romney would drop out of the presidential race before ever releasing further tax returns. It does seem a bit ironic, that a man whose father was one of the champions of transparency with regards to a candidate's finances is now the most blatant offender in modern presidential politics. Even more ironic, is that in general any member of Romney's potential Cabinet (or political appointee confirmed by the Senate) would be required to submit at least three years of tax returns.
So the Republicans don't trust Romney, he can't run on his record, and he is angering everyone by refusing to release his tax returns. Think things can't get any worse? Oh, yes they can. His wife stepped into the fray and said "we've given all you people need to know."
Holy. Shit. Is it possible to have a more arrogant statement?
Romney needs to do something and do it fast. Most polls show him losing the upcoming election, so Romney needs a game changer. With everything about his campaign stumbling, he needs a bit of downtime to reset and hopefully regain some momentum. Until he announces his vice presidential candidate, what better way to reset than a lovely sideshow outside the United States. Having no foreign policy experience, Romney stepped onto the world stage to appear Presidential. He headed to the UK for the start of the 2012 Olympics and plenty of UK politicians were on hand to meet with him. This is a cake walk, right?
He forgot Labour Leader Ed Milliband's name, referring to him as "Mr. Leader". He was openly mocked by both Prime Minister David Cameron and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson (they're both Tories and, in theory, strong Republican allies). The British press have been ripping Romney to shreds and given that the Republicans are having a hard time attacking Obama's foreign policy experience, Romney has nothing to call on here. His UK trip has been nothing short of a humiliation.
So his only hope at this point is to have a wildly unexpected political event happen (say, aliens visiting Earth and endorsing Romney) or to choose such a stunningly brilliant vice presidential candidate that that everyone will be in awe. Unfortunately for Romney, VP candidates historically only help in close elections and this ain't one — but they can sink a campaign.
Right now, it really doesn't look like there are any VP contenders who will really help. Rubio might help deliver Florida, but he's very inexperienced. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has strong conservative credentials, but aside from having the charisma of a dead puppy, Jindal admitting that he's participated in exorcisms doesn't help.
There are other candidates, but I doubt there's anyone who's really going to make a difference. It's Romney running for the presidency, not his VP pick. Anyone who runs with him as VP is setting themselves up for the national stage; they know they won't win.
There are so many things going wrong with Romney's campaign that I almost feel sorry for him at this point. Watching various candidates such as Mondale, Dole and McCain, late in the election cycle, knowing they were going to lose, was always a bit sad. Even if I didn't agree with them, it wasn't fun watching them soldier on for a lost cause. Romney might be feeling that way already and he's not even the official nominee.