Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Up-coming Bout In November: Romney vs Obama

                        Imagine:  It's November And Romney and Obama are locked in battle                              

Republicans always hand the presidential nomination to the candidate who is the ‘next-in-line.’” Every observer of presidential politics has encountered this theory. The idea is basically this: Republican presidential nominating contests are governed by a law that, in essence, allows the candidate who is “next in line” to receive the nod: Mitt Romney came in second to John McCain, who came in second to George W. Bush; Bob Dole came in second in 1988, Ronald Reagan came in second in 1976.

If this is true, then Mitt Romney’s nomination was basically inevitable and the other candidates never really had a chance. To mainstream Republican voters, despite their reluctance to accept him, there was simply no plausible alternative. But it is awfully difficult to imagine that a principled, articulate, experienced conservative alternative could not have upended him. It is a testimony to Romney’s breathtaking weakness as a candidate that Rick Santorum, of all people, was able to give him a scare.
Rick Santorum

But the withdrawal of Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum from the nomination race leaves Mitt Romney as his party's clear frontrunner and sets up a potentially intriguing battle for the White House in November. If, even 10 years ago, pundits had said the contest for the United States presidency in 2012 would be between a black Democrat and a Mormon Republican, few would have believed them.

In reality, the color of each candidate and his respective religion is likely to be largely irrelevant when the country goes to the polls.

Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama, hostage to potential claims of hypersensitivity and fearful of white voter backlash, has been careful not to highlight overly the delicate issue of race.
Christian Exodus

Mitt Romney has most likely already come to the conclusion the Christian evangelical wing of the Republican Party, which flocked to Mr. Santorum, is a lost cause for him - and that there is more profit for him in the centre ground among moderate independents as yet unconvinced President Obama has earned another term.

The influential factors in the forthcoming contest, which barring an unpredictable and extraordinary event - Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul remain theoretically in the running for the Republican spot - are the state of the US economy, economic fairness, and the contrasting personalities of the two likely candidates.


Mr. Romney will make most of his running on the first of these, being a successful and wealthy businessman with a personal fortune estimated at about $US 250 million.

He will be quietly hoping the stuttering economy fails to find a fluent and sustained growth spurt until after the election, thus being able to paint the President as a poor steward in such matters.

He will, likewise, portray the Democrats' redistributive tax policies - on which President Obama has been campaigning - as harmful to the economy and bordering on European-style socialism.

In such matters Mr Romney will have certain handicaps, as the gruelling primaries revealed.

These contests have been fiercely fought, with bitterness and bile writ large. Much was made of the way in which the multimillionaire made his wealth (through his involvement with private equity firm Bain Capital, which in part made its fortunes by closing down businesses and adding to the country's woeful unemployment statistics).

Ranged against him has been a collection of fractious and flawed individuals whose policy platforms and ideologies personify the splintered identity of today's Grand Old Party.
Rick Perry

There was Rick Perry, who stumbled fatally in a debate in which he could not recall which of the Government departments he would immediately shut down.

Michele Bachmann's star rose dramatically and waned almost as pointedly on revelations as to her shortcomings as a candidate.

Herman Cain withdrew after running into "women trouble". Mr Santorum, the darling of the religious right, flirted with such electorally volatile issues as contraception - he is against it.

Mr Gingrich, still running but millions of dollars in debt, flung mud.
So pointed at times was the commentary from some opponents and members of Mr Romney's own party, observers could have been forgiven for repeating an old saying: with friends like these, who needs enemies?

Members of the re-elect Barack Obama team must have on occasion pinched themselves. Then there is the challenger's flat presentational style. Try as he might to inject enthusiasm and passion into his speeches, Mr. Romney strains for effect and seems rehearsed. He has thus far barely sparked the imaginations of Republicans, let alone the undecideds.

With, arguably, an ideal profile for Republican candidacy - rich, white, male businessman - there remains a stubborn feeling he will go to the August convention as the candidate who won his party's ticket by default.

All of which makes him the underdog in the presidential election.

This is not always a bad place to be. President Obama, who will continue to make much of economic disparity and a taxation system that favors rich people, such as himself and Mr. Romney, at the expense of low and middle-income workers, will be wary of this factor. When the campaign proper gets under way, anything could happen.

Finally, a telling note: are all of these next-in-line theorists rushing to declare that, after Romney’s time has come and gone, Rick Santorum will be the next Republican presidential nominee? Do these people think that Chris Christie and Marco Rubio have reason to worry? Of course not. There is no “next-in-line” rule — just a hesitance to nominate upstart candidates and unknown quantities. For a conservative party, that should hardly be surprising — let alone interesting.

Six months is a long time in presidential politics, so, lets keep our fingers crossed and pray that Mr. Romney fares better than what I have him looking like here.


  1. LTG Boykin summarizes it all here:


  2. White voter backlash? I don't think so.

    Obama has tried to start a race war & the most obvious tactic was to exploit the Travon Martin incident. However, Americans didn't take the bate.

    Since he didn't get traction with a race issue, he may make firearms the issue instead.