Once more Mitt Romney regained his “front-runner” status with his wins in Arizona and Michigan last night. The pressure was assuredly on him to take the top spot in his home state of Michigan but in the end his slim victory only highlighted his tenuous hold on the party’s leadership position.
While the inevitability of Mitt’s nomination is continually questioned, especially given the fluidity of the GOP’s voters and their difficulty resigning themselves to the former Massachusetts governor. But in the end it is doubtful anyone else will gain a solid enough footing to overtake him. Even though it’s a foregone conclusion that the primary season will stretch well into the Spring, Romney will most likely win the nomination. However, in so doing he will face a whole new set of challenges.
Throughout the primary Romney has changed his views with each swing of the prevailing, political winds. From health care reform to immigration to gun control to climate change to his views on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to his inability to decide if he’s pro-life or pro-choice to his multiple tax ideas, Mr. Romney will have to reconcile these stances for the general election crowds. This will require significant back pedaling on numerous issues in an attempt to woo independents to his side, especially those who have migrated back Obama.
In a time of the 99% vs the 1%, the former governor will also have to find a strategy to connect with the middle and poor classes. His attempts to portray himself as a defender of the middle class, are consistently undermined by his words. His gaffes – from the $10,000 bet with Rick Perry to “corporations are people” to $374,000 “is not much money” to his wife drives “a couple of Cadillacs” to he does not watch NASCAR, “…as closely as some of the most ardent fans. But I have some great friends that are NASCAR team owners.“- illustrate how disconnected he is from average Americans. Is it his fault? No, these comments originated in simple, unscripted banter or speeches as he tried to appear personable but unfortunately for Romney they show how very far removed his perspective of daily life is from much of the country. This creates quite a quandary for him as he tries to characterize himself as a candidate for the masses especially when he is compared to Obama who was raised by a single mother, who worked his way up from the middle class, attained a quality education, worked hard and became President of the United States of America. What better example of attaining the American Dream is there?
Mitt Romney will have a significant battle ahead in the general election, not only running against an incumbent president but also one where he will be fighting against himself. In his effort to gain the favor of the Republican electorate he’s essentially abandoned the very person who had a real chance at besting President Obama. Will he be capable of extricating himself just enough from the severely conservative hole he’s dug to bring independents back to his side? In so doing will he alienate and disenfranchise the social conservative he enticed during the primaries? In an election environment with a President regaining his favorability, with consistent reminders of a recovering economy and with building proof of the President’s policy legitimacy, Romney will face a significant uphill fight to convince voters that Obama has truly failed in his endeavor to fix the country.