Romney’s second bid for the presidency is best summarized by the following: he has a high floor and a low ceiling. For most of 2011 he was the national frontrunner, until August 13, when Perry seized the moment in Charleston. Did Romney falter? No. His support has always been narrow and shallow. As CNN’s Peter Hamby wryly noted this week, Romney has polled below 26% nationally in all but three polls this year. This is the very definition of a weak frontrunner.
There is little enthusiasm for Romney anywhere but in New Hampshire, where he and his wife live on Lake Winnipesaukee; it’s a state where 80 percent of the electorate is covered by the Boston media market.
Perry won national attention immediately and now is being made to survive the national media’s proctological exam. His impressive $17 million seven-week haul guarantees his campaign’s survival and longevity. Now, if he can perform only slightly better in the next two televised debates (Oct. 11 and 18), he will be seen by many as a formidable “Comeback Kid”.
The Republican primary electorate desperately wants to beat Obama. But they also want to be inspired and enthusiastic about their nominee after feeling as though they had to hold their noses for McCain in 2008. Do they have to choose between heart and head? Between electability and desirability?
The list of potential Republican nominees in 2012 who passed on running is long and distinguished: Mike Pence, John Thune, Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Jim DeMint, Chris Christie, and now Sarah Palin. The field is set. There are now two choices.
The primary calendar is moving up. Iowans will likely caucus as early as late December and as late as Jan. 3, less than three months away. Filing deadlines for ballot positioning in early states begin at the end of October.
Republican primary voters need to wake up. There is no white knight. There is no Ronald Reagan. We have a binary choice for our Republican standard bearer: Romney and Perry.
Why not Herman Cain?
Cain has rocketed into the first tier due to his ability to connect, his impressive business experience, his outsider status, his compelling personal story and his simple and memorable 9-9-9 economic plan. He is not, however, running a serious campaign. Cain is instead, either by choice or by circumstance, engaged in a civic exercise. In the real world of national politics, campaigns matter. Cain is a feel good candidate with a bright future as a paid speaker, author, media host or national political figure. But he is not running a serious effort. Need proof? He’s now embarking on a multi-week book tour, instead of visiting all-important Iowa, which he will next visit November 19, a week before Thanksgiving. His campaign is not serious and cannot win.
So it’s Perry and Romney. If it were Perry and McCain, who would win?
Truly a time for choosing.