The famous humorist Will Rogers once said, “We always want the best man to win an election. Unfortunately, he never runs.”
And for many Republicans, that seems to be the maxim of 2012.
Last Tuesday, eight Republican candidates seeking the Republican nomination – excluding former Utah governor Jon Huntsman – faced off at the CNN/WRLC GOP debate in Las Vegas, NV. The fiery discussion, which drew 5.5 million viewers, was by far the most engaging and spirited event of the 2012 primary season.
Now, with the GOP field purportedly established and only three months until voters cast their ballots at the Iowa Caucus – Republicans across the nation are evaluating each candidate, assessing their strengths, weaknesses, and ability to lead during these difficult and uncertain times.
While I personally like many of the candidates, and would vote for any of them over the current occupant of the White House, there seems to be one contender, above all others, who has the means, experience and determination to defeat President Barack Obama in 2012. And that candidate is Mitt Romney.
The most striking difference between Governor Romney and his Republican rivals, in my opinion, is his ability to raise money and garner endorsements. The key to any successful campaign – as history suggests – is procuring political donations. Indeed, since the exodus of GOP favorites such as Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, and Chris Christie from the national stage, Mitt Romney has received more than $32 million in financial contributions. Although Romney’s campaign has raised significantly less money than President Obama, he holds twice as much in his coffers as Texas governor Rick Perry, who finished second amongst Republicans with $17.2 million.
Nonetheless, it’s increasingly obvious that Mitt Romney is resonating with GOP voters. His intellect, incisiveness and ability to articulate clear positions on contentious issues during the debates are some, albeit not all, of the reasons why he’s remained the nominal frontrunner since announcing his candidacy. As Hugh Hewitt wrote in his column last week, Republicans, at least historically, do not usually nominate candidates with strong deliberative skills, and Romney, by all estimations, is a seasoned and capable debater. His ability to refute personal and political attacks and appear unsullied – most notably in defense of Romneycare and his history of flip-flopping on social issues – is a talent that has enchanted and impressed voters across the political spectrum. In New Hampshire, for example, he leads his closest GOP rival by 32 percentage points in a recent NBC/Marist College poll.
And yet, unlike Herman Cain, who has never held political office or served in the military, Mitt Romney possesses the right combination of private and political experience. His twenty-five years as a businessman coupled with his single term as governor of Massachusetts underscores his impressive resume and already burgeoning presidential candidacy. The most important issue to voters, after all, is revamping the American economy -- and his successful years as a chief executive in both sectors suggests the former governor is the most qualified candidate to get America working again.
While some Republicans contend that he is exceedingly ambitious and all too willing to compromise his principles to win elected office, one thing is absolutely clear: he desperately wants to be president. One of John McCain’s fatal mistakes in 2008 as the Republican nominee – and there were many – was his refusal to attack Obama for attending Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church in Chicago for over twenty years. Obama’s association with his former pastor, who perpetually spewed hateful, inflammatory and anti-American rhetoric from his pulpit, should have derailed his campaign. Mitt Romney, I suspect, who has essentially campaigned for president since leaving public office, wouldn’t hold back any punches.
In short, I am not suggesting that Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination nor am I endorsing his candidacy. Herman Cain, for example, is soaring in the polls and is a significant threat to his political aspirations. Evidently, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza now leads Mitt Romney by seven percentage points in Iowa and is galvanizing voters across the nation. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are polling in double digits in several new national surveys -- and Rick Perry, whose campaign was ostensibly imploding, appears to be on the recovery.
What I am suggesting, however, is that the 2012 Republican primary is far from over. What matters, though, is that the Republican Party nominates a candidate who can defeat Barack Obama. And as of now, that person seems to be Mitt Romney.