You’ve probably heard the story about the tycoon who wanted to bring out a new kind of dog food.
He spent lavishly. He hired the best marketing person, the top PR firm, the best ad agency, the No. 1 packaging expert, the most powerful distributor — but the sales were flat after six months.
He summoned his consultants to a meeting and asked why the food wasn’t selling. “The dogs won’t eat it,” was the answer that came back.
And so it is with Mitt Romney. Despite outspending his rivals by huge margins throughout the primaries, the dogs won’t eat it. He lost Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and California. The only primaries he won were in Michigan, where Dad was governor; LDS states; and a few states on Super Tuesday in which his California-obsessed rivals couldn’t spare the cash to advertise. Only John Connolly in 1968 had a worse cash-to-delegates ratio.
And John McCain rightly did not like Romney’s tactics during the primaries. Using his gigantic money advantage to dominate television, he seized early leads in virtually all of the primary states, only to lose them later on. And, when they started slipping away, he resorted to unfair, distorted, scorched-earth negative ads, betting that his opponents couldn’t afford to spend enough for the truth to catch up to his charges.
Would Romney help McCain? I don’t see how. Social conservatives and evangelicals cannot but smart over his former earnest declarations of his determination to “protect a woman’s right to choose” and his famous statement during a campaign debate that he would be a better senator for gays than Ted Kennedy. In the primaries, evangelicals all backed Huckabee rather than Romney.
Would he help McCain win fiscal conservatives? If Obama’s tax plans don’t accomplish that, one has to wonder about their sanity.
McCain should, at a minimum, choose a candidate who won’t cost him votes. And, at a maximum, he should go with a vice presidential choice that redefines his candidacy.
With the nation in the grip of a fundamental re-appraisal of its past rule by white men, both Condi Rice and Colin Powell suggest themselves as excellent alternatives. They would excite voters, turn them on and give them a way to vote against Obama without ruffling their consciences. Either candidate would make an excellent spokesman in putting down Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience or expertise and would make the statement, by his or her very presence on the ticket, that national security concerns should impel McCain’s election.