No one knows with certainty who will win the Iowa Caucuses on Thursday night or, for that matter, the New Hampshire Primary a mere five days later.
Today, Wednesday, five different candidates still retain a real (if in some cases remote) chance of winning the Republican nomination for President of the United States but within a week one or more of those contenders may have been forced from serious competition.
It’s an ideal moment, in other words, to review the GOP “Big Five” with an eye to where the conventional wisdom is wrong, and the “secret weapons” that each of them possesses.
Common Misconception: The hostility to his campaign stems from anti-Mormon bigotry
Truth: Romney has effectively neutralized anti-Mormon bigotry with his superb December 6th speech – the sterling high point of his campaign, for which he received near universal acclaim. Nevertheless, for such an affable, accomplished and attractive candidate, Mitt still attracts startlingly high negative ratings: according to Rasmussen Reports, fully 47% of voters say they will “definitely” not vote for Romney in November; only Hillary Clinton herself (with an identical 47% of core opposition) provokes comparably poor reactions. The widespread hostility to Romney bears less connection to charges that his religious commitment is dangerous or “cultish,” than to fears that he has no real commitment at all. He is seen by many suspicious voters as a “phony” – an empty suit who’ll do anything to get himself elected. Kenneth Anderson of the Hoover Institution (himself a former LDS missionary, and hardly an anti-Mormon bigot) wrote of Romney in The Weekly Standard: “He is (in my humble opinion) a man of principles so pragmatic that he lacks any unshakeable political foundation, save that he ought to be president of the United States. He is a politician of the moderate center who has sat down with his consultants in the calculus of management consultants everywhere and concluded that winning the presidency must mean dropping his moderation – itself principally a means of winning office in liberal Massachusetts – and reinventing himself as a man of the right.”