Mitt Romney is a rather fascinating GOP candidate. He ran for the party nomination in '07 and lost to the Vietnam vet. Now he's trying desperately to secure enough support, establishment backing, and money to obtain the party's nomination and then to mount a defense against Obama. To be sure, he has been dealt some blows: Perry's entrance and initial ascendancy, Christie's contemplation, and Herr Herman's recent bizarre and unsettling surge. After a stellar performance (read: attack) at last week's GOP debate in Nevada, the former governor seems to be settling into some comfortable territory.
The WSJ on Friday reported that Gov. Romney had secured the backing of several prominent George W. Bush campaign contributors. The article noted that Romney has managed to obtain "twice as many" backers as Perry. The article is telling for two reasons: 1. It indicates that major donors have become of the opinion that Romney is the man most qualified to launch a significant challenge to President Obama in a general election; doubtless, these donors (while ideologically committed to a certain extent) are concerned about broad-spectrum appeal. Romney, as it happens, has a record--especially as the Governor of Massachusetts--that is comprised of certain liberal (or non-conservative) "elements." 2. A certain line of agreement has been reached between major donors and various segments within the so-called party faithful. The latter has, at best, offered mild endorsement or exhibited subdued enthusiasm for Romney; but perhaps these same segments are realizing that Romney is, in fact, the best bet for the GOP. To be sure, many Evangelical Christians are unlikely to agree.
This coalescing of support has irritated Romney's opponents, especially Texas Governor Rick Perry. Last week's GOP debate revealed the intense dislike that Romney and Perry hold for each other. The hostile commentary and snarky retorts functioned to display that drama to the American people. This week, Ray Sullivan, a spokesman for Perry's camp, decided to take aim at Romney: "Mitt Romney's positions change, often dramatically, depending on the audience or location" (WSJ.com). The politically calculated soundbite was in response to Romney's apparent flip-flopping on the issue of global warming.
Romney's speeches, referencing global warming, and Sullivan's press statement are all part of the political show; no new information is revealed and maximum political return is the aim. It is clear that the Perry camp desires to discredit Romney's candidacy by presenting him as not merely insufficiently conservative but, worse, too liberally oriented. It is a standard strategy but one that the Perry camp cannot seem to master. Perry is desperately attempting to regain lost territory but, in the process, manages to cede further ground. It is something to behold. In a way, Romney is a (or, rather, the) beneficiary of Perry's crumbling campaign.
On Thursday, RealClearPolitics.com reported that a recent Rasmussen Reports poll found that, in the race for the New Hampshire Republican Presidential Primary, Romney was leading with 41%; Cain had 27%, Paul 11%, and Perry at ... 4%. Romney's lead is major and Perry's ranking is, well, pathetic. Too sound to turn Perry to the count, but one thing is for certain: Romney is not going anywhere, especially if the major GOP donors continue to view him as their "chosen one." Perhaps Perry will be returned to the Texan ranch, cowboy boots and all.