What’s Left: What We Get with Mitt



Tight presidential primaries are good for news networks like MSNBC and CNN, so it should not come as a surprise that they attempted to play up the idea that Rick Santorum was the Republican candidate with “the most conservative credentials” during this primary season. Santorum was able to catch fire thanks to a stretch of very conservative states that all voted within a short period of time. But no matter how blatant the effort has been by the media to try to turn Santorum into something he is clearly not, a viable candidate, it is becoming more apparent each day that his “rise” was merely the result of Mitt Romney’s inadequacies as the front-runner for the Republican nomination. If Romney had even the slightest amount of charm or any ability to connect with the Republican voting base, he would have sealed up the nomination a month ago and would be focusing his full attention on the Obama Admin-istration. He has the personal wealth and key support of the financial sector that is crucial in propelling a typical candidate to frontrunner status and comes across to the average voter as the man who has the best chance of unseating President Obama in November.

Yet, Romney will most likely go down as the first Republican candidate since Gerald Ford (who was an incumbent), to not win an overwhelming majority of states in the primary sea-son. That fact certainly did not help Ford in his cause, as he eventually lost to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election. This is of course not to say that elections cannot be won by a party after a tough presidential primary, as President Obama demonstrated after he came out of his fight with Hillary Clinton four years ago. But the clear difference between that case and the one that Romney is now facing is in the structural nature of his campaign. Obama mobilized his cam-paign behind a strong grassroots effort that synthesized an excited liberal base with a dissatisfied mass group of independent middle-class voters. While Romney will certainly not have to worry about his supply of money or his ability to run negative television ads across every state throughout the general election season, he will have to worry about having a truly excited base rallying behind him every step of the way. Because, even though elections are ultimately decided by moderate and in-dependent voters, it is hard to rally the kind of sup-port and passion that is needed in this highly polarized political landscape without a base that is fully behind its candidate.

If this primary season had heavyweight candidates vying for the nomination, as was the case in 1968 when Ronald Reagan, Nelson Rockefeller and Richard Nixon faced off against each other, then I would say that the eventual nominee should not have trouble gaining the pledged support of the party’s diehards. But in compa-rable terms, Romney is facing a featherweight in Rick Santorum, and has, at times, struggled to even knock him off his feet. What is the reason that Romney, with all of his advantages, has not yet been able to brush aside this relatively weak opponent? Well, the guy is simply not that likable. He visibly comes across as someone who tries so desperately to gain the love and affection of those who are voting for him but never quite gets that far. He tries so hard to say all of the right things, yet he is the candidate with the most gaffes in this process, most of which have been related to his vast personal wealth. Don’t get me wrong, wealth is not necessarily a deterrent from gaining the sincere support of the masses. John McCain and his wife were certainly questioned about their wealth four years ago, but the man is a war hero who underwent brutal torture for his country. George W. Bush came from a powerful American family, but people embraced him because of his charm and “good ol’ boy” approach. Romney, on the other hand, appears to be nothing more than a walking dollar sign. He does not have the juice that would get voters to happily throw their support and efforts behind him. He does not have the sincere set of values that conservative voters crave. Like the CEO that he is, he will remain amorphous in order to succeed, not realizing that he is leaving a mass of people wondering what makes him tick.

There is no doubt that Romney will end up putting up a formidable fight against President Obama, and if events unfold in certain ways, he very well may win the election. Yet, if that ends up occurring, Americans will have elected a business manager that they do not really know to run their country, and one who does not have a firm grasp on what they truly need or want.

Contact Ryan Martin at [email protected].