For Rick Santorum, the hope is to surge past Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich and maybe land a sizeable second place finish. At the moment, it is quite possible.
Newt Gingrich is hoping to do the same and for him that is also a very realistic goal.
Ron Paul, well Ron Paul is Ron Paul and all he can really do to matter is to beat Mitt Romney. If he did that, he will grab the headlines within the mainstream media who will claim the G.O.P. is in utter turmoil and run with stories about the predicament that Ron Paul creates for Republicans. But Paul’s chances at beating Romney in New Hampshire are nill, so that is not a realistic expectation.
Rick Perry simply hopes to finish ahead of Buddy Roemer and Fred Karger so that he does not go in to South Carolina as a totally lost cause.
The wildcard in New Hampshire is Jon Huntsman.
Huntsman has pinned all his hopes and invested all his limited resources in the Granite State in an effort to stun the political world by beating Mitt Romney in his own backyard and becoming the next Santorum as the nomination contest moves forward. The problem is Jon Huntsman is not stunning and although a second place showing in New Hampshire is not impossible, anything less than a second place finish will disqualify Huntsman when it comes to being competitive in any future primary contests.
And while all the candidates are forced to invest at least some time and money in New Hampshire to achieve theirmost minimal of goals, Mitt Romney is already working South Carolina.
The other candidates are not ignoring South Carolina. They all know that the Palmetto State will be pivotal and in many cases, their last stand. However, with the need to set themselves up for South Carolina, they still have to dedicate most of their time and money on the immediate contest in New Hampshire. Yet Mitt Romney has both a wide enough lead and the financial resources needed to work New Hampshire and South Carolina at the same time.
Hence his latest ad [see ad below this post].
In it, Mitt Romney talks from a factory floor and changes to a shot of a Boeing plant, a jet engine and a 787 Dreamliner that Boeing is building in South Carolina and Washington state. All the while, Romney is heard accusing President Barack Obama of adopting policies that “affect our economy based not upon what’s right for the American worker but, instead, what’s right for their politics” and he charges that the board is stacked with “union stooges.”
The ad demonstrates how well positioned Mitt Romney is to become the Republican presidential nominee. While all the other candidates are facing do or die conditions, Romney continues to have the advantage of multiple opportunities to sustain frontrunner status. It should also be noted that it was a wise strategic decision by the Romney campaign to run this type of ad in South Carolina. It does not mention any of his opponents and shapes the race as one that is bewtween him and President Obama, not a fellow Republican. But the most tellin g about the ad is still how indicative it is of Romney’s place in the catbird seat.
All of this could of course change in a heartbeat.
Conservatives could decide to unite behind either Santorum, Gingrich, or Perry. Romney could stumble and fall, or both things could happen simultaneously. But regardless of what “could” happen, there is no denying that Mitt Romney has the best cards in his hands. His problem is that he is still failing to convince conservatives that he is not bluffing and really is the conservative holding a full house in his hands. If he plays his cards right, he will win just enough of them over in South Carolina to create the sense of inevitability that will force his opposition out of the race.
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