Mitt Romney thinks he's going to be elected President in 2012. He's not.
Romney does have an impressive pedigree on paper -- gazillionaire investor, Republican governor of a Blue state, savior of the 2002 Winter Olympics, and inheritor of the kind of family legacy that Republicans say they hate but can never resist behind the voting curtain.
But he fails in so many ways, even in a 2012 GOP field that looks a little shallow two years before the Iowa caucus. I've detailed my thinking on this very blog in the past, and said thinking led me to accurately predict the final 2008 nominees two full years ahead of the election. But to put it succinctly, winning a primary requires approval of the base and a sense among the party faithful of national winnability. Winning the national election requires authenticity and charisma -- the more authentic, charismatic Democrat or Republican has won every presidential election of the video age (since JFK in 1960).
Romney's pedigree was the same back in 2008 when he lost the GOP nom to John McCain, except for the "failed presidential nominee" line on his resume. But he couldn't beat McCain, who was famously no favorite of the GOP base himself. Why not?
- The survival of Christian society is the base's most important issue. Romney was for abortion before he was against it, even running as a staunchly pro-choice candidate for governor in the '90s. Discovering one's opposition to abortion in middle age, coincidentally between trying to win over Massachusetts Democrats and trying to win over national GOP activists, smells like a cattle ranch off the I-5 in August. He's either (a) really pro-choice or at least ambivalent, or (b) a guy who'd lie about a core moral belief to win an election.
- Romney is also not an acceptable kind of Christian. He's a Mormon.
- Romney's primary accomplishment as governor was signing into law mandatory health care, which he continues to take credit for while also criticizing Democrats' attempts to scale nationally.
- You don't have to watch much video of him to see he's a huge dick. Nobody likes him.
He knows he has an uphill battle to win the GOP nominee in a way that's going to position him to beat Obama in 2012. So we get shit like this, from his CPAC speech:
I am convinced that history will judge President Bush far more kindly—he pulled us from a deepening recession following the attack of 9-11, he overcame teachers unions to test school children and evaluate schools, he took down the Taliban, waged a war against the jihadists and was not afraid to call it what it is—a war, and he kept us safe. I respect his silence even in the face of the assaults on his record that come from this administration.
Why is Romney talking nice about Bush in front of CPAC, an organization that abandoned Bush as a mushy, government-expanding compromiser who lost the American people, and lost power for conservatives? Because, as Ben Smith of Politico puts it:
The passage had, I think, an audience of one: Bush. Romney is looking to inherit what remains his network of establishment support in 2012 and to run the kind of dominant campaign Bush did that cycle.
Got that? Romney is a unliked, untrusted, no-charisma legacy candidate running away from his own past positions, who's assumed to be the frontrunner simply because he's lining up the establishment ahead of a shallow field.
Remind you of anyone?