And then there were five. Jon Huntsman bid farewell to the race for the Republican presidential nomination this week, not shocking many. He leaves behind Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Perry and Paul. (Reminds me a little bit of a secular version of the last supper.)
As reporters have duly noted and Huntsman himself described himself during one debate, his candidacy was lost “in Siberia” from the beginning. Not only did Huntsman's campaign fail to take off, as many predicted about the youthful ex-governor of Utah/former US Ambassador to China (under Barack Obama), his campaign announcement reminded one more of a high school student running for class president than POTUS. Calling it quits, Huntsman sounded like Robin pleading for Batman (Romney) to give him more responsibility, maybe a cabinet position if Romney becomes president: “There’s no sense in standing in the way of Romney.” I doubt Ron Paul thinks so or the others left standing. The fact is this is still a race until the last vote is cast in the last primary.
But if all roads do lead to Romney and he wins South Carolina, it will be harder for those left standing to spend the money it takes to be competitive in Florida, one of the most expensive media markets to buy ads in the nation. But since Florida holds the golden ticket with more electoral votes than Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina combined, if one of Romney’s rivals could win Florida, Romney’s good fortune could change. Admittedly, that’s a lot of ifs.
Instead of candidates and voters parting the conservative waters and getting behind Romney just yet, Romney needs to show voters his personality that is something other than his robotic, tame responses to questions on the issues. He can’t play it safe forever. Obama will make sure of that in the general election.
Most assuredly Romney will have to have bolder answers defending his tenure at Bain. He should start by ending his callous comments about how he likes to have the ability to fire people. This comment isn’t music to the ears of 13 million unemployed Americans struggling to find jobs. Instead Romney should explain to the American people the jobs he had to cut from companies Bain acquired was to improve the future health of those companies so they could hire more jobs in the future. Compared to the 1.7 million jobs Obama and his policies have caused to be purged from the economy, Romney has a better track record with job creation.
Romney also should end his talk of the middle class needing the most help with respect to tax cuts. That refrain sounds just like Obama and his class warfare assault on so called rich, higher earners. Romney would be wise to borrow a play book from Ronald Reagan and advocate for tax cuts across the board. Tax cuts will help create jobs and buoy the economy.
In a match up against Obama, particularly in debates, Romney must respond to questions on his positions with more conviction and passion than what we’ve seen to date. To woo independents, disillusioned Democrats and some doubtful conservatives, and beat Obama, Romney needs to channel the real Romney not the plastic Romney, whose traveled this road before and lost in 2008. Over the years, Romney's positions on abortion, guns, taxes, Romneycare, among others have shifted, so he needs to convey more convincingly where he stands on the issues today, not yesterday but today. But after it’s all said and done the burning question remains can Romney be the GOP’s superhero in 2012 or just its presidential nominee? Inquiring minds want to know.