Mitt Romney is still the nominal Republican front-runner in South Carolina and the country But his support, while broad, is shallow. Many of the attacks on him are specious, but still emotionally telling. And on some issues, that no one has yet raised, he is extremely vulnerable.
Jon Huntsman endorses Mitt Romney
This morning, as he said he would, former Governor Jon Huntsman (R-UT) dropped out of the race and endorsed Mitt Romney. In so doing, Huntsman said that Mitt Romney was the man best able to “help our cause.”
But then Huntsman said something else:
At its core, the Republican Party is a party of ideas, but the current toxic form of our political discourse does not help our cause.
That was a clear reference to Huntsman’s other rivals. Newt Gingrich especially, and also Rick Perry, attacked Romney for his association with Bain Capital. (Rick Santorum and Ron Paul did not.) Robert Eberly at GOPusa severely criticized Huntsman for saying the above.
Politics is a tough business. The winner of the GOP race will have to face Obama and his Chicago machine. The winner must be ready, and a tough GOP primary race is the way to do it.
Perhaps. But whether Mitt Romney truly is or can be ready is a different question.
The Bain Capital Question
A “super-PAC” calling itself “Winning Our Future” produced this 27-minute video (“When Mitt Romney came to town”) to describe Mitt Romney and the private equity firm he ran, named Bain Capital. Bain Capital invested in several companies that are American household names (Domino’s Pizza, Staples, The Sports Authority, etc.). But it also invested in other firms that later liquidated.
The true perspective on Bain Capital is this:
- Proportion of firms that Bain Capital invested in, that failed in the end: 30 percent.
- Proportion of those same firms that might have failed had Bain Capital not intervened: near 100 percent.
The reason: Bain Capital did not invest in perfectly healthy firms that would not need anyone to infuse more capital in them. It invested in firms that needed its money and advice. Seven times out of ten, that advice paid off, both for the firm involved and for Bain Capital. (In fact, the Obama administration asked Bain Capital’s advice on how to handle its takeover of General Motors. It did not ask that firm for advice on how to invest in Solyndra and other “green energy” firms. Some observers say that maybe it should have.)
So an attack on Romney based on what Bain Capital did in a few sad cases is specious. But Nick Purpura, a former manager at Bear Stearns, pointed out to CNAV another issue that the critics have missed:
Mitt Romney was doing what his investors expected him to do: make money for them. He did this by taking over companies in trouble, cutting out deadwood, and making them profitable again. But that does not work in government, because government does not exist to make a profit for anybody!
In other words, Mitt Romney’s experience at Bain would not serve him well as President. So the correct record to judge him on is not his record at Bain, but his record as governor of Massachusetts. The good news: he cut taxes and balanced the budget. The bad news: he proposed a universal health-care system that Barack Obama boasted of using as his model. He also showed a less-than-healthy respect for the Second Amendment to the Constitution. (Worse yet, he supported the Troubled Asset Rescue Plan (TARP) of 2008, one of the things that conservatives hate worst of all.)
Another Tea Party activist, Israel Teitelbaum, told CNAV that the video, whether true or not, would sink Mitt Romney in the general election.
Obama has a billion dollars to play with! He has the money to place a CD with that video in the mailbox of every voter in the country who does not have e-mail!
He would do that, says Teitelbaum, because it makes Mitt Romney look like the stereotypical heartless capitalist that they say that all capitalists are. In short, that video makes Bain Capital look like the fictitious firm of Scrooge and Marley in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. (Whether the Obama campaign would be liable to a lawsuit for copyright violation, by distributing video content to which they owned no rights, is another matter.)
More general weakness
Last week, The Washington Post suggested that the battle that Mitt Romney had to fight in New Hampshire caused “lasting damage.” The damage is this: Mitt Romney does not seem to be a man of the people, but more like the scion of a political dynasty. This is exactly what many voters do not want to vote for. Voters also see in him a man of inherited wealth, who did not “make himself” and whose father largely handed things to him.
Mitt Romney has two especially bitter opponents, each with a dedicated following. One is Newt Gingrich. He has never forgiven Romney for the “attack ads” that his campaign ran against Gingrich in Iowa. Winning Our Future supports Gingrich and makes no secret of that.
The other is Ron Paul—or not so much Ron Paul as his followers. Ron Paul did not attack Mitt Romney on the Bain Capital association. But his followers (like Bob Livingston, editor of the Personal Liberty Digest) see Romney as a liberal, not even the “moderate” that Gingrich calls him. Today (probably before Jon Huntsman dropped out) Livingston accused Republican leaders of “form[ing] a circular firing squad” by pre-determining to nominate Romney and exclude all others.
Romney has received endorsements from two of the party’s biggest losers: Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Dole. With friends like those, no wonder the proles are looking elsewhere.
McCain and Dole are both nominees who lost their respective elections.
Romney, a Massachusetts liberal, abortion supporter, TARP supporter, stimulus supporter, cap-and-trade supporter, believer in big government, war-loving, anti-gun crusader is the choice of the party’s insiders. But according to the Real Clear Politics polling average, almost three out of four of potential Republican voters want the nominee to be someone else.
That is true. Mitt Romney wins slightly more than twenty-five percent of the vote. He keeps the lead because his rivals split the vote almost evenly among them.
The South Carolina debate is slightly more than an hour and a quarter away at the time of posting. The primary takes place on Saturday. Anything less than a clear majority vote will be yet another sign of weakness.
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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