“President Barack Obama has a wide lead over potential Republican rivals for the presidential election in 2012, but faces serious doubts about his handling of the U.S. economy, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found on Wednesday…

“He polls above 50 percent when compared to his closest rivals, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, according to the poll.

“Obama leads Huckabee by 51 percent to 39 percent, and Romney by 51 percent to 38 percent.”

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“The Romney camp blames all [of the failures of RomneyCare] on a failure of execution, not of design. But by this cause-and-effect standard, Mr. Romney could push someone out of an airplane and blame the ground for killing him. Once government takes on the direct or implicit liability of paying for health care for everyone, the only way to afford it is through raw political control of all medical decisions.

“Mr. Romney’s refusal to appreciate this, then and now, reveals a troubling failure of political understanding and principle. The raucous national debate over health care isn’t about this or that technocratic detail, but about basic differences over the role of government. In the current debate over Medicare, Paul Ryan wants to reduce costs by encouraging private competition while Mr. Obama wants the cost-cutting done by a body of unelected experts like the one emerging in Massachusetts…

“For a potential President whose core argument is that he knows how to revive free market economic growth, this amounts to a fatal flaw. Presidents lead by offering a vision for the country rooted in certain principles, not by promising a technocracy that runs on ‘data.’ Mr. Romney’s highest principle seems to be faith in his own expertise.

“More immediately for his Republican candidacy, the debate over ObamaCare and the larger entitlement state may be the central question of the 2012 election. On that question, Mr. Romney is compromised and not credible. If he does not change his message, he might as well try to knock off Joe Biden and get on the Obama ticket.”

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“As many of you know, I [Mike Huckabee] am prayerfully considering an important decision about seeking the office of President in the 2012 election. I am asking for God’s guidance now, and I humbly ask that you would join me in prayer as I seek to discern His will for my life.

“When I look across America, I see a country looking for answers. The challenges facing our nation are monumental, and I see difficult days ahead. I am seeking God’s will concerning the role He wants me to play in His plan for America.

“Together, let’s pray for God’s mercy on America. Pray that He will heal our land. Pray that I will hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit as He leads my steps according to His will.”

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“We also tested Mitch Daniels on this poll and he trails 48-34 but what might be most interesting is his favorability numbers with Republicans. Only 23% express a favorable opinion of him to 25% with an unfavorable one. I think a fair amount of that ‘unfavorable’ rating can be explained by voters who rate just about any politician they’ve never heard of negatively- which I think is about 10% of the population- but those are not impressive numbers by any stretch of the imagination. Beltway journalists are clearly a lot more enamored with Daniels than actual GOP voters are.”

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