Romney’s Reality. Make His Move Now or Risk Waiting Till It’s Too Late?

Romney has to keep some players off the field

Bookmark and Share   As indicated by a recent Rasmussen Reports National Republican Primary survey of 1,000 likely primary voters, since making his expected presidential candidacy official last month, Mitt Romney is solidifying his perceived hold on frontrunner status. The poll gives him a 14% lead over the rival who since Monday’s debate, is now his closest rival, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann. The actual results of the poll are as follows; Romney – 33%, Bachmann – 19%, Cain –10%, Gingrich – 9%, Paul – 7%, Pawlenty – 6%, Santorum – 6%, Huntsman – 2%

This is good news for Romney, but at this early stage in the game, voter’s are quite fickle. They have yet to really focus on a decision that some won’t have to make for another 9 months and most won’t have to make for almost a year from now. So many of these people are going with Romney because he is a name that remains well known ever since he first ran for President in 2008. But among activist Republican voters, their familiarity with Romney does not make him a clear frontrunner. The biggest reason for that is his creation of the Massachusetts healthcare plan that President Obama claims was the model for his unpopular national Obamacare plan. This crack in Romney’s shell is the major reason behind why many Republicans are hoping that a knight in shining armor steps into the race and saves the day, or rather the election.

For some that savior is Sarah Palin. For others it’s Rick Perry, Chris Christie, or Rudy Giuliani.

While another Giuliani presidential candidacy ultimately won’t have much impact, the other three names would. Christie, Palin, and Perry have a style, reputation and record that it takes to be popular with the anti-government sentiments of the TEA Party age. Giuliani really doesn’t. Additionally, if he had what it takes, he would be well positioned for the nomination as either the incumbent Governor of New York or United States Senator representing the state..

Ever Since 2000, when Hillary Clinton ran to replace Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Rudy was the premier New York Republican and the first and only name New York Republicans had a chance to win with. Yet since 2000, Rudy was not up to running and as a result, Republicans lost two gubernatorial elections, and twice as many chances to win a U.S. Senate seat. If Rudy was not up to beating names like Elliot Spitzer, Chuck Schumer and the virtually unknown Kirsten Gillibrand in statewide races, he is certainly not up to beating names like Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney or Barack Obama on a national level.

However the prospects of a Christie, Palin, or Perry candidacy could go far. And more importantly, they could go a long way in preventing Romney from getting the Republican presidential nomination.

This forces Mitt Romney to confront that reality and requires his campaign to make a critical strategic decision.

Romney already has his hands full with the competition he is getting from the current field of declared candidates. While the candidates were quite civil with one another and focused on what they agree on during the most recent debate, soon they will be focusing on their differences. And the most glaring difference between Romney and the rest of the field is that none of them have created a government-centric healthcare plan that President Obama adopted. No matter how much Mitt tries to frame the issue as a states rights issue that he handled appropriately as a Governor but would never think of handling the same way as a President, for many he will continue to have big-government blood on his hands. Still, among the seven major candidates that he will definitely be running against, Romney has a fighting chance. But if Rick Perry were to join the field, Romney’s fighting chance quickly becomes a major uphill battle.

For that reason, it behooves Romney to solidify his frontrunner status now.

If Romney was able to take what is currently at best, a tenuous hold on the top spot and turn it into a solid hold on the top spot, than Rick Perry and others who have been showing a real or perceived reluctance to run, will be less likely to do so.

Up to now, Romney has been attempting to lay relatively low and avoid the type of national overexposure that could cause people to get tired of him and peak too early in the long nomination process. Right now Romney is content with tirelessly meeting with and talking to relatively small organized, individual groups of influential Republicans and Republican activists and trying to win them over. Such a strategy is a necessity for any candidate. But it will not make Romney seem unbeatable quickly enough to prevent stiff competition from announcing their candidacy and sucking the gas out of Romney tank.

So Mitt needs to decide whether he wants to run a slow and steady campaign that builds momentum gradually or if he is willing to make some moves that risk early overexposure but discourage others who have a good chance at beating Romney from becoming candidates. One of those moves that Mitt might want to think about is renouncing the “Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care” that he enacted in 2006 as Governor. If Romney could come forward and describe Romneycare as a proper attempt by a state to experiment with a solution to a tough problem, and then admit that the experiment failed, he could begin to convince apprehensive, limited government voters that he gets it.

Romney has come close to this. In speech after speech, he has articulated that his state healthcare plan was not perfect and that there are things he would now do differently. But coming close to admitting that Romneycare was a failure is not good enough. What he needs to do is admit that his Massachusetts healthcare plan did not do the job he had hoped it would and then go as far as to say that it once and for all proved to him that government is not the answer.

If Romney were to go this route, he would have the breathing room to explain that he lived up to his responsibilities as a Governor and allowed his state to with its own solution to its own problems. He would then be able to get milegage by explaining that the difference between him and President Obama is that unlike the President, he understands the difference between the role that a Governor plays in their own state and that a President should play in the governance of a state. The key is convincingly making the point that his healthcare experiment as a Governor, will make him a President who is more convinced than ever that government is not the answer.

This argument would fly among limited government and TEA movement voters. Not only would it be plausible, it would begin to unwrap the healthcare albatross from his neck.

But that alone will not be enough to prevent Governors who did not make the same mistake in their states that Romney did in his, from entering the race and challenging Romney. To accomplish this, Romney needs to make an investment in a national  blitz that exploit’s the economic malaise that President Obama is entrenching us in and highlight Romney’s understanding of the economy as well as the private sector and the successes he has had in the private sector. Romney needs to quickly acquire a stronger national image as a master of free market based growth, who knows how to create jobs, and as was the case in the 2002 Winter Olympics, turn things such as our economy, around. This impression must become undeniably obvious and to do so, Romney can not just create this impression in New Hampshire and Iowa. To prevent someone like from Rick Perry from challenging him, they need to see that states which hold primaries and caucuses later in the contest, also have an undeniable positive image of Romney. Romney may even want to think about taking advantage of some sketchy polls that show that Perry is currently behind others Republican presidential hopefuls among Texas  Republican primary voters.

Romney’s private sector background and managerial talent is his strong suit and if he can act quickly to exploit the continuous reports of an economy that is actually getting worse, he can turn that strong suit into the type of armor that will discourage others from challenging him. That will then leave Romney to compete among an existing field of candidates who will have a hard time replacing Romney as the frontrunner.

This strategy is unorthodox. Traditional campaigns for a presidential nomination force candidates to focus on the individual state contests that can keep them in the game till the next state primary or caucus. Usually the strategy is to win enough early state primaries and caucuses to force opponents to drop out of the race and leave the nomination to them. But for Mitt Romney, as it is now, he will have a tough time winning Iowa, the first contest, and South Carolina, the third contest. And if he does not do well in Florida which holds its primary shortly after, then Romney may be in trouble. This scenario makes it enticing for someone like Rick Perry to become a candidate. Unlike Romney, Perry could easily win Iowa and South Carolina. In fact, if Perry were to run, he is the one candidate with the greatest chance to win enough early contests to force others, inluding Romney,  out of the race.

For that reason, Romney may want to make his move now rather than later. Because if Rick Perry runs, later may be too late for Mitt Romney.

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One Response

  1. IF ROMNEY IS THE BEST WE HAVE THEN LET START PLANNING FOR 4 MORE YEARS OF OBAMA.THIS GUY IS A JOKE. WE NEED A TRUE CONSERVATIVE .

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