The Gladiators among Us
Florida. It's been termed Armageddon by some. Republican presidential nominees have all descended into the verbal combat arena. Observers are keenly watching every raised eyebrow, listening to every syllable and voice inflection, to see who can out-Newt, Newt. Given the response of the various Neros of the MSM and Republican establishment to Newt's win in South Carolina, coupled with the hand-wringing of some members of the conservative base as to his "baggage" and un-electability, not only is Newt tarred, but scarred. And all gladiators have scars.
Despite the Romney-oriented SuperPac's frontal assault in Iowa, the lackluster finish in New Hampshire, and the breaking last minute ex-wife interview, Newt is still standing. South Carolina's exit polls, broken out by demographic group, are revealing of the undercurrent that I believe, is running through the hearts and minds of the voting public, not only in South Carolina, but throughout the US. And that current is a balancing act between hope and the optimism of better times to come vs. the fear and anger that the America we love might become the America we lose. And that undercurrent is also being reflected in the recent Gallup poll that puts Newt and Mitt, both tied at 48% against Obama at 50% in the general election. Therefore, I'm not quite sure how the establishment or conservative (dependent upon what side you're on) un-electable argument holds up for either Newt or Mitt.
Romney has the cash and organization to take him to the convention through the general election. However, he has one problem that is the foundation of his current troubles. It's not Bain, RomneyCare, abortion, nor other of his flip-flops. Mitt's problem is that he's trying to convince us that he's one of us, when he isn't one of us. The off-hand comments, whether on the campaign trail or in debates, all point to a man who's not necessarily out of touch with the average American, but one whose life took a different course than most of us.
A recent article in Politico, mentions the presidential campaign of George Romney, and how it self-destructed by the unguarded "brain-washing" comment. Many political pundits and strategists attribute Mitt's overly cautious, almost robotic, scripted campaign to the remembered fallout from this comment. The intense, driven, successful CEO persona that he emanates may be what some people are looking for in these economic times, while others are looking for competence mixed with, let's call it, humanity. There's a relaxed side of Mitt, the other persona he keeps reserved for his family. However, if the voters would see a little more of the relaxed Mitt instead of the intense Mitt, he might find that breakthrough he's been looking for, but so far has eluded him.
With Newt, his scars emanate from his own foibles, as we saw one evening in Iowa where we beheld, Newt the Bitter. Not pleasant. But Newt is a communicator, like his revered Reagan. When he steps into venue, whether a restaurant, conference, debate forum, he feels his audience. And, he connects with his audience and it with him, just because he's not perfect. He won overwhelmingly in South Carolina not because of some supposed anger or sympathy vote resulting from the last minute, bitter ex-wife interview, but because he articulates the scars of life - people who have lost jobs, homes; injured veterans recovering from wartime trauma; students saddled with astronomical college debt, and no jobs; seniors worried about what Obamacare will do to their healthcare future and savings.
The 2012 Presidential election will be one, brutal race, because the acquisition or loss of power, in the most powerful country in the world, raises the stakes to their ultimate level. Gladiators are not only physically, but mentally tough. And for 2012, mentally tough also equates to mentally shrewd. So, Mitt or Newt?