Congratulations On Those Wins, But…


Mitt Romney heads out of New Hampshire on Wednesday on a probable march to the Republican presidential nomination – but with scars and weaknesses that could lead him to limp weakly into a general election against President Barack Obama.

On the plus side, his back-to-back wins in Iowa and New Hampshire were unprecedented; anti-Romney conservatives head to South Carolina as divided as ever; and polls signal that he could win both South Carolina and Florida against that fractured opposition for a January sweep. That probably would clinch the nomination for him.

Yet he received an often-tepid response from Republicans, even in his own New England backyard. He faces a blistering ad assault in South Carolina that could hurt him among moderates and independents critical to the fall vote. And he’s shown a tendency to utter politically tone-deaf quotes that signal difficulty connecting with working-class voters who appear ripe for the picking from the Democrats…

We said a few days ago that a quick primary victory for Mitt Romney has pitfalls, and that a longer primary against the current weak slate of candidates would give him more time to define himself before engaging in the long battle against President Barack Obama. There is a real danger that Romney could win each of these upcoming Republican primaries and seal the nomination, but incurring lasting damage at every stop along the way–which he won’t have time to shake before Obama’s campaign cribs those same attacks.

It would be unfair to fail to acknowledge the hard work by Romney’s campaign that went into his win yesterday in New Hampshire, and perhaps more so for his solid performance in conservative Iowa after a relatively late start. But other things are happening along the way, building a narrative we’ll be talking about for much longer.

21 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ArapaGOP says:

    Romney just can’t win for losing, can he?

    Is there any way that Romney could possibly be doing well? If not even unprecedented back to back wins in Iowa and NH are enough to get a congratulations, I don’t know what would.

    Oh wait, you’re Democrat shills! Now it all makes sense.

    • It is very possible that Romney does the previously unthinkable – wins all four of the first contests.  That’s good for him in that it whittles down the competition quickly and gives him at least the potential to fill up his warchest to take on Obama.

      But there’s a downside, too.  The other candidates, seeing Romney possibly pulling away early, are spending all out on attack ads in South Carolina, violating the 11th Commandment and possibly damaging Romney in the long term.  If they take him down enough to keep their candidacies alive in Florida and beyond, expect more of the same and more damage to go with it.  Romney might be forced to spend the time between now and the general election campaign repairing his image, and if he wraps up the primary quickly, he won’t have the free airtime in which to do so.

      • VanDammer says:

        Newt is throwing about $3.5 mil @ Carolina and Santorum said to be blowing $1.5-2 mil for all out media buys against Mittens.  Don’t know what Parry’s ringing up but this is sure as hell his last stand.  

        The faux-fundamentalist are courting the Southern Baptists hard (with 2 Catholics trying to out-Jesus the Mormons) knowing they must win SoCarolina to have any remote odds in FL.  If Mitt takes the Palmetto state then it’s coffin nails to the remaining clowns.

        Yeah FL is filled with religious nuts but  also Wall St retirees & plenty o’ cash.  Rick Scott is Mitt’s kinda guy though not sure if a Scott endorsement would help.  Nikki jumped in bed w/ Mittens early and it’s likely Scott will do the same after SoCarolina.

        It’s Mitt and we all know it.  The charade should stop but 24-7 “news” would have nothing else to offer.  We need to be onto the Veep sweepstakes and who’s gonna share the bumperstickers w/ Mittens.  Time to belly up to that bar & bend some ears with those ruminations.  

      • Gray in Mountains says:

        and Mitt still has to compete in all those southern primaries and OK then he can’t begin his move to the middle. the longer he has to stay on the fringe the worse it is for him  

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      in the title of this diary escape your notice, . . . or your comprehension?

    • Aristotle says:

      It should read “Romney just can’t win, can he?” No, he sure can’t. Watch as House and Senate campaigns make sure he doesn’t stump for them this fall.

  2. Littletonian says:

    Remember when everyone said that the Dems who backed Hillary Clinton would stay home or vote Republican in 2008? Didn’t happen. The GOP base will back Romney – the winner of the 2012 election will be the candidate who wins the most independent voters. Just like always.

    • Craig says:

      Sorry, but there are a lot of white, mainly southern, evangelicals who would vote for a Muslim before a Morman.  Doesn’t make it right, but it’s the truth.  They think Mormans are a cult, and their ministers tell them so.

    • BlueCat says:

      all or even most the Dems who backed Hillary would stay home. HRC and Obama were nearly identical on issues. The portion of HRC diehards who truly despised Obama enough to stay home was, in fact, very small and included a group who immediately showed their true colors by going over to McCain, not by any stretch of the imagination closer to HRC on the issues than Obama, least of all on women’s issues.

      Sure, most R voters will get behind the candidate because they so despise Obama but I don’t believe that there are no more surprises in store here.  

  3. DavidThi808 says:

    Is who drops out after S.C. If they all drop out, obviously Mitt wins. But if only one of Gingrich/Perry/Santorum remains then the anti-Romney vote all goes to that one. And then Romney has to fight through super-Tuesday.

    • Aristotle says:

      As much as “NotRomney” has been a story in the GOP race up until now, it’s not going to be that big a factor from here on out, now that they have a track record of losing Iowa and New Hampshire. GOP talking heads are already lining up behind Romney, and a lot of people who might want someone more conservative and might have considered Perry or Bachmann or Gingrich or Santorum will go for Romney because it’s inevitible. (A lot more will just stay away – I believe that Iowa and New Hampshire drew fewer Republicans this time than 2008, indicating an enthusiasm gap among registered ‘pubs.)

      Keep in mind, also, that the NotRomney’s are not carbon copies of one another. Even among wingnuts, each is flawed and unlikely to truly unite the base. If any of them could do it, they would have already.

  4. caroman says:

    By that, I mean that Mitt will have very limited unscripted access to voters or the media from here on out.  Particularly after his disastrous last two days of the NH primary (“I like being able to fire people…”, etc.)

    This is a problem for the Obama campaign because it’s unlikely there will be further gaffes from Willard.  At least there are already plenty in the can that can be accessed.

    Romney is a harried, defensive, excitable candidate whenever he is faced with having to improvise.  He is calm when reading from a teleprompter.  His campaign made the right move to have him read from the teleprompter on Tues. night after his awful performance without a prompter in Iowa.  

    Because I think we’re not going to see much of him from here on, the country is not going to get much of a chance to see how phony this guy really is.

    • sxp151 says:

      Once he gets the nomination, he doesn’t really want people talking about him until August. The more they talk about him, the more his contradictory positions and actual record hurt him. He wants to swoop in like the unknown savior just before the election.  

      • harrydoby says:

        It seems to me that if the question of the respective GOP and Democratic candidates is settled by February, then the general campaign may as well begin rolling out then.

        I’d like to see Ron Paul run a close enough second that he decides that his followers deserve a bigger voice, only possible through an independent, third-party campaign 🙂

      • If Romney is significantly damaged by the millions being poured into S.C., then he’s going to have to buy airtime to make up the ground.  Of course, that’s scripted (and pay-to-play) airtime unless he wants to go on the talk shows – my bet is he’d rather pay for controlled messages rather than get the free interviews.

  5. Tom says:

    Normally, a long attention-grabbing primary campaign that keeps the candidate in the public eye would be a good thing. He could use the time to neutralize all the possible attacks and leave the opposition grasping for new material to use in the general election.

    Unfortunately, Mitt seems to suck at responding to criticism in unscripted moments. Huntsman managed a great moment when he was able to neutralize attacks on his time in the Obama administration, but that wasn’t enough to really ignite the campaign. When Romney is confronted with accusations of being a corporate raider, he sputters and mumbles something about capitalism. Dude needs to get away from the electorate and use his enormous amount of cash to buy his own narrative instead of letting his lack of charisma have free reign in public.

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