Mitt Romney, with a win the New Hampshire primaries under his belt, seems ready to take the GOP presidential nomination in a walk. However, if the last few days are any indication, it’s not going to be a cakewalk. There’s plenty of time for Romney to stumble, and plenty of people can easily trip him up — his opponents, his surrogates, and even the candidate himself.
Romney won the New Hampshire primaries, but some Granite State Republicans were “disappointed,” and some even complained that Romney’s “insincere comments” during his victory speech didn’t do much to “seal the deal.” That’s funny, because it was a very conservative speech according to Michael Tomasky, and one almost tailor-made for the GOP’s base.
Romney’s attack on Obama was four-pronged. First—duh—he has presided over a failed economy, and we can and must do better. Second, he “wants to put free enterprise on trial.” Third, he wants to turn America into a Euro-paradise for the shiftless and unmotivated. And fourth, Obama runs a foreign policy of appeasement (he used that word), while Romney will restore American greatness and so on.
Let’s break them down. The first line of attack is obvious and potentially quite effective, depending on the state of the economy this fall. But notably, it stands out for a more important reason: it’s the only argument of the four that is directed at all Americans generally, and at swing voters. It’s the only one that’s practical more than ideological. That section of the speech also includes within it the best applause line, the couplet about Obama having run out of ideas, and now let’s make 2012 “the year he runs out of time.”
So that’s all right. The other three, though, are all aimed at the base. Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial. Really? Most Americans don’t believe that, and most swing voters don’t believe that. That kind of thinking is strictly the province of Obama haters. It is within this rubric that Romney utters the line in which his campaign is about “saving the soul of America.” Oh, come on. Middle Americans don’t think, by and large, that Obama is a threat to the soul of America. That’s just dog-whistle stuff to the World Net Daily crowd. I used to cringe when John Kerry talked that way in 2004. I even kind of believed it about the Dubya crowd, but that doesn’t mean that I thought it was an effective argument to make to middle America, and if I didn’t think it then, I don’t think it now.
Tomasky goes on to practically write President Obama’s responses to Romney’s charges, and ends with a summary that echoes Peggy Noonan’s advice to Republicans in 2008 (and which they failed to heed then, too): “…Romney and his people are making the error conservatives and Republicans often make, thinking that regular Americans share their paranoias and obsessions to a far greater extent than they do.”
Mitt’s having enough trouble “sealing the deal” with the GOP base, which at least starting to exhibit some resignation to or willingness to settle for Romney as their nominee. From here on out, he’s auditioning for the job of “sealing the deal” with the rest of the country. That’s looking like it will be a tough sell. Break out New Hampshire’s Republican primary voters by income, and Romney did well among the wealthy voters who carried him to victory — gaining 14% from voters making over $100k a year, compared to how he did in 2008, and making his biggest gain among those earning $200k and up.
The fact that Romney relied on the wealthy to win is not surprising. His economic plan is set to deliver a massive $6.6 trillion tax cut to the richest 1 percent and corporations, a cut that is 100 times more than what his plan offers middle-income Americans. Indeed, nearly three-fourths of households that make $200,000 or less a year would get “literally nothing” from his plan which — incidentally — actually raise taxes on half of middle-class families with children.
That also goes a long way to explaining why Romney only gained 4% in the under $100k category, and why the only group income group he didn’t carry was the under $30k group.
Writer Maya Angelou once said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” It looks like that’s what happened with Romney and New Hampshire voters in the 99%. Romney’s opponents are still spending millions to show Republican voters and the rest of the country Mitt Romneywho Mitt really is. Romney is doing a fine job of it himself, with enough “Mitt-isms” and gaffes to comprise a “blooper reel” that will almost certainly grow between now and November.
Romney and the rest of the Republican field are telling and showing Americans who they really are. It looks like more of us are starting to believe it, and doesn’t bode well for Romney and Republican come election day.