Anybody but Mitt is Obama
The Iowa Caucus is upon us, and 2012 is off and running. Over the past several days, the new Republican flavor of the month, Rick Santorum, has gained traction and momentum through the endorsements of a number of evangelical leaders in the state. Pundits everywhere analyze this new momentum in context of an anti-Mitt movement in the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Comments are couched in terms of a last attempt to stop the march of Romney toward the nomination. All matter of gaming takes place assuming that Santorum becomes the new standard bearer of the right. Suggestions that he bypass New Hampshire and go directly to South Carolina to make a stand with Christian conservatives in that state are now openly posited.
Yet all of this continues to ignore the realities of this race in context of the raw politics that will be part of the 2012 election cycle. The anybody but Mitt crowd may be get their wish and it won't be another Republican. Obama wins the argument. This seems largely due to the lack of perspective that is evident in a nation so divided and so fearful of the possible repercussions of global instability and a lousy economy here at home.
Now in full disclosure, I have written in support of Mitt Romney's campaign for some time now. The rationale for such support is borne out of his 2008 campaign and the evolution of the candidate that we now see before us in 2012. Mitt Romney is just so damn competent, clear eyed and organized that no one else comes close. He is buttoned up, articulate and very presidential. And that may be his biggest weakness!
In speaking with a number of people on my radio show, I found that his perceived smoothness and normally perfect delivery is what bothers people. They know that all the candidates have baggage or positions that make them imperfect. Even Mitt Romney has to deal with his governing of a left of center state and Romenycare. But as he has continued to hone his skills, refine his positions on matters and continues to execute the type of campaign that would wear out the best of competitors, people still have questions about whether he would reflect their conservative values.
Now in this matter I look to several points of clarity. First, Romney's organization does not only show on the campaign trail. If you spend any time at all at his campaign website you will find an extraordinary amount of policy details, position papers, extraordinarily talented staff and consultants and clarity that is missing from every other candidate's website. Romney's business acumen and consulting background shows in spades and demonstrates the level of detail he has gone to in crafting this campaign. Of course you have to spend some time reading these materials to fully comprehend and consider a President Romney. Something the "hope and change" crowd never did and all too often the case with the conservative movement. In this day and age of Dancing With Stars and the Kardashians, we don't seem to take the time to dive into the minutiae that is necessary to form a view beyond the flavor of the month.
This is not to suggest that the regular turn that each of the candidates has taken in the front runner spotlight is simply due to the electorate's ignorance, but it appears all too often aligned with the anybody but Mitt storyline that has kept the main stream media bubbling about this campaign season. Then, when that candidate appears or demonstrates their ineptness, they alight on the next pretty flower.
Polling has shown that Mitt Romney is the only candidate that beats Obama. In the recent Rasmussen poll during the last week of December, Romney beats Obama 45/39, outside of the poll's margin of error. Yet now we see the next anybody but Mitt candidate begin to gain momentum in Iowa, Rick Santorum. Santorum has worked hard in Iowa on a shoe string budget. His socially conservative positions and reasoned national security views have given his candidacy a lift, especially after key Iowa evangelicals endorsed the next anybody but Mitt.
The problem is that Santorum looks like he is running as a Senator from the 90's rather than a presidential candidate for 2012. His frustration was often evident during the debates where he acted like the Rodney Dangerfield "no respect" candidate of the Republican contenders. Although he steadied himself more in the latest debates and admitted his frustration was evident during those early contests.
But Santorum has as much a chance of beating Obama as do I. He has run a campaign on nickels and with a focus purely on Iowa. He is understaffed, underfunded and unprepared to carry off a national campaign and his evangelical support will be insufficient to win him the nomination or the presidency. Rick is a fine man and a tenacious candidate. He just doesn't bring the game that Obama is playing and that in the end becomes the major consideration of all the current candidates, save Romney.
Romney has always looked upon this campaign as a long march. He knows he must win the 1191 delegates necessary to gain the nomination. His campaign is focused on all fifty states and he recognizes that the infrastructure, relationships and funding he is putting in place for the primary is the same infrastructure, relationships and funding he will need for the general election. His cluster of smart operatives in combination with his own 2008 experience will position Romney as the best candidate to take on Obama during a very tough and knock down race.
Last week, we saw the evangelical community in Iowa try to get candidates out of the race to reduce the split in the evangelical vote. Gingrich declared that Romney would buy the election if he could. Gingrich and Perry couldn't organize to meet the rules for registration in Virginia. Meanwhile Santorum is getting advice to skip New Hampshire and go directly to South Carolina to gain the Christian vote.
Given the machinations of the crowd above, can you really believe that any one of these other candidates can beat Obama? He still has the bully pulpit; likely a billion dollars of funding and of course his millions of minions together with the main stream media.