A couple of articles I think highlight some of the concerns people have about Romney:
The outcome of Tuesday’s primary in the Badger State was in some sense predictable, a repeat of the primaries Feb. 28 in Michigan and March 6 in Ohio: Santorum campaigned hard and came close, but was ultimately unable to overcome the Romney campaign’s vast advantages.
And once more - as in Michigan, Ohio, and other key states - Romney’s campaign and his allied “super PAC,” Restore Our Future, unleashed an overwhelming flood of attack ads against Santorum. It is estimated that the pro-Romney forces spent more than $3 million on advertising in Wisconsin, outspending Santorum and his super PAC by 4-to-1.
This was predictable, based on previous precedents, as was the final result Tuesday: In a Republican primary with phenomenally low turnout, Romney won Wisconsin with 42 percent of the vote to 38 percent for Santorum. This four-point margin of victory, purchased at such a heavy price, was predictably hailed as a triumph that effectively clinched the nomination for Romney. Yet the winner of Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary got about 200,000 fewer votes than the half-million Republicans who voted for Johnson in the state’s 2010 Senate primary, the low turnout in this year’s presidential primary an ominous indication of the tepid enthusiasm for Romney among grassroots conservatives.
If Romney is indeed now the “inevitable” nominee, it is a status he has obtained by crushing conservative opposition in an astonishingly expensive and negative campaign: According to the Washington Post, Romney’s super PAC has spent nearly $30 million on advertising, 91 percent of it on negative ads aimed at either Gingrich or Santorum.
None of that was mentioned Tuesday night in the post-primary discussion on Fox News, which predictably cut off Rick Santorum’s speech halfway through, and then predictably began discussing the campaign in terms of when Santorum would drop out and how Republicans could “coalesce” behind Romney who, the commentators declared, is now definitely the inevitable nominee.
A sort of cognitive dissonance is at work: Three months into the primary campaign, Romney has gotten about 41 percent of Republican votes so far. According to projections by the Associated Press, however, Romney now has 655 delegates, which is 57 percent of the “magic number” of 1,144 needed to clinch the nomination at Tampa.
Krauthammer and the other Fox News panelists surely know that if Santorum can manage to win Pennsylvania and fight on into May, the inevitable Romney may not be as inevitable as some pundits have predicted. According to an analysis of Republican delegate math published Tuesday in the New Yorker, it is currently projected that Romney will complete the primary campaign just shy of the “magic number.”
Santorum spent months campaigning on a shoestring budget in Iowa when there were no big crowds and no major media coverage, when his poll numbers were in single digits and nobody thought he could win. He won not only Iowa, but also Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado, Tennessee, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Kansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, to become the last man standing against Romney, who has always been the pre-emptive favorite to win the nomination. Anyone who thinks Santorum will quit now – when he has three weeks to win over Republican voters in his home state of Pennsylvania, and thus keep his underdog campaign alive – obviously doesn’t know Rick Santorum very well.
American Spectator Robert Stacy McCain
I’m not sure we have ever seen a candidate quite like Mitt Romney.
For years, ever since he started running against Sen. John McCain for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, Romney has tried to position himself to the right. In fact, four years ago, he succeeded in positioning himself as one of two conservative alternatives (the other being former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee) to the Arizona Senator.
The exit poll from the Florida GOP primary on Jan. 29, 2008, when McCain narrowly beat Romney, 36 percent to 31 percent, and Huckabee came in a weak fourth, showed Romney rallying Republican conservatives who could not accept McCain.
In that contest, Romney won primary voters who thought abortion should be illegal, while McCain won those who thought it should be legal. Romney won weekly church attendees, while McCain won those who went occasionally or never. Romney won those satisfied with or enthusiastic about President George W. Bush, while McCain won those dissatisfied or angry.
But don’t stop there. Romney won voters who wanted to deport illegal immigrants, while McCain won those who favored temporary worker status or even a path to citizenship. Romney won conservatives, while McCain won moderates and liberals. Romney and Huckabee tied to win white evangelicals, while McCain won nonevangelicals.
This cycle, Romney has run right again, to establish his conservative credentials, but he has not been successful. Instead, each and every week, he has performed best among the same voters who chose McCain over him four years ago - and he has done least well among those demographic groups that supported him in 2008.
Romney’s great problem in the GOP race, as pretty much everyone has already observed, is that conservatives don’t really believe that he is one of them.
Despite all his conservative rhetoric - on taxes, government spending, traditional marriage, immigration, abortion and health care - conservatives aren’t buying it. They believe that Romney is simply pandering to them because he knows that is what he needs to do to lock up the Republican nomination.
Whether it is his multiple positions over the years on abortion, his support for an individual mandate in Massachusetts, his Mormon faith or simply his profile as a wealthy, impeccably dressed businessman, the most conservative Republican voters (many of whom are evangelicals) don’t believe that he is a passionate conservative who is ready to take on the political establishment.
What’s interesting about Romney and his supporters is that, despite his conservative rhetoric, moderates and country club conservatives continue to support his candidacy.
Clearly, establishment Republicans also don’t believe Romney when he talks about his views and his agenda. If they did, they probably would feel about him the same way they feel about Santorum or Bachmann.
Romney’s great asset is that these voters figure he is merely pandering to evangelicals and the most conservative element of the GOP when he talks about cultural issues, immigration and taxes.
The bottom line, of course, is that nobody - not his critics and not his allies - really believes Mitt Romney.
Is Romney such a mass of contradictions that voters can look at him and project their positions on him, allowing them to support him? Or is his credibility so shot that too many voters will simply conclude that they can’t trust him, making it impossible for them to support him?
Roll Call Stuart Rothenberg
With Romney only getting 41% of the Republican vote so far - having to buy it with unprecedented attack ads - still unable to rally the base - record low turn outs. It is becomming increasingly clear that Romney is a bad choice for the Republican Party and they’re not buying it. He may win the nomination but is he the best choice to beat Obama? Santorum runs his campaign on a shoe string budget yet pulls off wins and close second in primaries across the country. Romney won’t have his media blitzkrieg advantage in the general election either.