“Tonight we made history!” That was the opening line from Governor Mitt Romney after claiming victory in New Hampshire Tuesday night with 39% of the vote; and perhaps, also the most telling story of the still-young primary contest. The Republican front-runner – that we’re told nobody wants – just became the first Republican candidate (non-incumbent) to win both Iowa and New Hampshire since Gerald Ford. Stop the presses.
“Tonight we celebrate, tomorrow we go back to work.”
Indeed. And it’s going to take quite a lot of work for Romney to continue his winning ways in South Carolina; but if he does somehow manage to complete the sweep of the first three contests, this thing may be over before the end of the month – save for Ron Paul hanging on until after Easter.
A few lines from what I thought to be a very impressive speech from Governor Romney; and then a few thoughts on the primary below the scroll…
“Barack Obama wakes up; looks across America, and is proud to announce it could be worse. It could be worse? That is not what it means to be an American. What defines us as Americans is our unwavering conviction that we know it must be better and it will be better.”
“Americans know our future is brighter, better than these troubled times.”
“We still believe in the hope, the promise, and the dream of America. We still believe in that shining city on a hill.”
“The President has run out of ideas. Now he’s running out of excuses… And tonight, we’re asking the good people of South Carolina to join the good people of New Hampshire to make 2012 the year he runs out of time.”
“President Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial. In the last few days, we have seen some desperate Republicans join forces with him. This is such a mistake for our Party and for our nation. This country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy. We must offer an alternative vision. I stand ready to lead us down a different path, where we are lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by a resentment of success. In these difficult times, we cannot abandon the core values that define us as unique — We are One Nation, Under God.”
Not bad, right?
A couple really good lines from Mr. Romney there. He’s clearly set his sights on President Obama already looking past the rest of the field and the mud they’ve been slinging in Iowa and will no doubt continue to sling as the campaign moves on to South Carolina. I think both Governor Perry and Speaker Gingrich gravely miscalculated the impact their week-long Bain Capital smear campaign would have on the front-runner; and I think it would be wise for both of them to pivot to a “promote thyself” approach with great haste before heading South.
I’m not sure I’ve shared it here before, so I’ll share it now to get it out there. I have a theory on Mitt Romney. While on paper, there are many many things about his past political record that trouble me, there is still a part of me that thinks this guy could surprise a few people. Humor me for a minute. If he was legitimately governing from the most conservative posture plausible in Massachusetts, couldn’t most of his shortfalls be explained away by the electorate he represented? Use that same logic, and the perception that he’s a shape-shifter, and apply it to the kind of president he could become. With (likely) majorities in both Houses, a Tea Party base that would primary him four years from November, and no justifiable reason to pander to the center; couldn’t he potentially become the conservative president we’ve all been waiting for?
Let me put it to you this way. If a former labor union leader and a governor from a Blue State ran for the Republican nomination today, after spending much of his career as a member of the other party, was running for the Republican nomination; would you be more or less skeptical of that guy than the guy that just won Iowa and New Hampshire?
Points for trying?
In all seriousness… As much as I hate to admit it, I’m beginning to drink the inevitability Kool-Aid here. I see three scenarios that lead to someone other than Romney claiming this nomination. Both assume there won’t be a scandal.
1.) Santorum catches fire again in South Carolina; and Gingrich and Perry do as well – to a lesser degree. They all finish within 5-10 points of Romney and remain “viable” as the campaign moves to Florida – after which two of them drop out pledging support for the remaining candidate. Even then, I’d still give Romney a better than 50% chance of claiming the nomination.
2.) Ron Paul drops out after Iowa pledging his support for one of the other non-Romney’s. We all know that scenario is not going to happen, so let’s call that the “When Hell freezes over” scenario.
3.) Huntsman… (scratch that) Perry wins South Carolina and Gingrich finishes second. Romney outpaces Santorum, but heads to Florida with his invincibility in shambles. The race descends into chaos and continues until Super Tuesday where the primary process finally works and a cross-section of the country legitimately chooses our candidate.
I’m praying for number three there, but I’m certainly not holding my breath.