National Journal: Romney’s challenge is to not “win himself to death”

posted at 1:55 pm on February 29, 2012 by Tina Korbe

When Mitt Romney woke up this morning after two primary wins last night, he probably enjoyed a self-congratulatory moment — but that moment couldn’t have lasted long. The GOP primary process, after all, is far from over. No sooner did the Michigan and Arizona polls close than talk turned to the Super Tuesday contests, particularly Ohio.

Romney’s victories in Michigan and Arizona make the road ahead steeper for Rick Santorum, no doubt. Romney enriched himself with delegates and notched two more first-place finishes — the kind that count the most.

Yet, in other ways, he impoverished himself. While he was surely stunned, as we all were, by Santorum’s earlier triumphant trifecta in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, he nevertheless expected those states to be contests. He was as polished in defeat as he had previously been in victory. But in the unexpected quest to capture his home state, he lost his footing, sacrificed some of his polish. The loss of his equanimity was evident not only in those twin fabulous flubs of his — “a couple of Cadillacs” and “NASCAR team owners” — but also in the angry, almost frightened way in which he responded to the Santorum campaign’s request to Democrats to vote in the GOP primary. Michigan rattled Romney.

In other words, he won the battle — but he spilled his own blood. Ron Fournier calls attention to this fact in National Journal today, writing that Romney’s next challenge is to not “win himself to death”:

Only a blindly loyal Romney ally would argue that the brutish GOP race has made him a better general election candidate. In fact, each stage of the race has underscored perceptions that Romney is a tone-deaf politician with an ambiguous inner core and a penchant for reminding middle class voters that he is rich and they are not. …

Romney may give President Obama a second chance with blue-collar white voters. The president lost white working-class voters by 18 points in 2008 and his party lost that group by 30 points in 2010. A growing minority population gives Obama some wiggle room in November, but the president needs a boost with the white, blue-collar voters he once accused of clinging “to guns or religion.” …

Yes, Tuesday’s results put Romney a large step closer to the nomination and in a general election fight with a vulnerable incumbent. But he still has Super Tuesday and, perhaps, several more contests ahead in the GOP nomination fight — so many chances for missteps.

In a tight election, independent voters will pick the next president. In the latest Politico/George Washington University Battleground Poll, Obama led Romney among independents by 49 percent to 27 percent.

Romney can turn those numbers around, if he doesn’t first win himself to death.

Then again, another way to look at all of this exists, too: Yes, Romney sacrificed some of his perfection, but that ultimately works in his favor. Michigan taught us again that Romney really wants to be the GOP nominee — and, ultimately, the president of the United States. His misguided attempts to connect, his sudden anger at Santorum’s “dirty tricks,” the sudden specificity of his platform — they all remind us that Romney is not a robot, but, instead, a fabulously wealthy, awkward-when-unscripted, impressively competent manager with a fantastic campaign organization and plausible ideas to improve the economy. What about that threatens to kill Romney’s candidacy?


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

The line among the politicos on the Right who oppose Mitt Romney is that the heart and soul of the Republican Party doesn’t like and doesn’t trust the Republican frontrunner. Well, it’s true that professional conservatives (those conservatives who make their living in and around politics) genuinely don’t like him. And non-professional conservatives who live and breathe politics 24 hours a day, and therefore know more about what’s going on than most ordinary voters, don’t trust him.

But the argument that these people represent the views and beliefs of the Republican rank and file is going to have to undergo some revision after Romney’s victories in Michigan and Arizona last night.

But the key detail in the exit polling from Michigan was this: Romney won the votes of self-described Republicans by 10 points, 47 percent to 37 percent.

The fact that Romney didn’t win by a landslide in Michigan was apparently the result, in whole or in part, of mischievous Democratic voters trying to weaken him. Exit polls suggest that those voters added as much as 3.5 percentage points to Santorum’s total.

Santorum slaughtered Romney among those Michigan voters who said they wanted a “true conservative,” by a margin of 57-17. But those voters made up only 12 percent of the electorate.
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/mitt_proves_the_pundits_wrong_bM0GDXBcB5rzRcIq4xOQ8J

Let’s restate this again:
But those voters made up only 12 percent of the electorate. I believe those voters reside right here at HA…as many of us “other” conservatives have been saying we need MORE than 12% to beat Obama in Nov.

g2825m on February 29, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Romney has yet to give a reason as to why anyone should support him.

fight like a girl on February 29, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Says someone who NEVER listens to him.

LOL!!!

Gunlock Bill on February 29, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Doughboy on February 29, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Agreed, the site below lays it out best as far as the rules of each state, whats winner take all ect. I mean the RNC rules this time around are so beyond dumb and needlessly complicated. But the bottom line is, I think Addelson keeps giving Gingrich money to keep down Santorum (he does NOT like Santorum) so Gingrich stays in and this thing goes Romney. Here are the rules per state for those curious, when you cross check the rules with the primary schedule and the fact there are no more game changing debates, I mean anything can happen in this weird primary, I just thing its borderline impossible for anyone else to win.

http://www.fairvote.org/delegate-allocation-rules-in-2012-gop

nswider on February 29, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Let me state this again from the other post:
Here is a question:
Why are we looking at candidates that are selectively running in certain States and cannot even qualify in others?

When RS and Gingrich, and Paul for that matter, ONLY choose to run say in OH, MI, SC but avoid AZ, NH, ME, NV, etc in RS case or in Gingrich’s case he avoids AZ, MI, ME, NH, and does poorly in the others…Why are we as conservatives and Republicans EVEN considering these candidates because we know Obama is going to campaign strong in ALL of these states. Romney is the ONLY ONE that can and has competed in EVERY primary and Caucus so far…and yet we have Allah and others wondering when he MIGHT drop out…haha seriously!

I know I am a Romney supporter but what I just mentioned above is a fact and wonder why we are looking at candidates that cannot run a national campaign…and this is the primaries!

g2825m on February 29, 2012 at 3:27 PM

It’s time to come together, right now, over Romney.

MaxMBJ on February 29, 2012 at 2:27 PM

I see what you did there.

Andrew D on February 29, 2012 at 3:27 PM

I don’t want a best friend or a consultant on morals, just someone capable of leading us out of this fiscal mess. I don’t even have to like him.

a capella on February 29, 2012 at 2:14 PM

They all stink. I voted for Romney last time. Ugh. Looks like I’ll have to do it again.

Lightswitch on February 29, 2012 at 3:28 PM

g2825m on February 29, 2012 at 3:27 PM

.
You would need an honest media to put those facts out.
.
Cafeteria Republicans ? ooof….

FlaMurph on February 29, 2012 at 3:30 PM

The loss of his equanimity was evident not only in those twin fabulous flubs of his — “a couple of Cadillacs” and “NASCAR team owners” — but also in the angry, almost frightened way in which he responded to the Santorum campaign’s request to Democrats to vote in the GOP primary. Michigan rattled Romney.

The facts tell a very different story than Tina’s too-clever-by-half witticisms, and Ron Founier’s puffed up pompous pronouncements:

1). Santorum lost every category of women polled Tuesday night, including working women, single women, and married women. He lost working women by 4 points, single women by 7 points, and married women by 3 points.

2.) Santorum lost among Michigan men by just 1 point, he lost the women’s vote by a full 6-point margin, leaving him well behind Romney and unable to close the gap with male voters in any way.

3.) Santorum blew what two polls had recently shown to be a double-digit lead, taking a loss he had no choice but to portray as a moral victory–although, to be sure, there was nothing MORAL about his actions in Michigan, robo-calling to Democrats to cross over to vote for him.

4). The most striking feature of Santorum’s double-header defeat Tuesday was his failure to win a majority of his fellow Catholic faithful, who went for the Mormon Romney by a six-point margin in both Arizona and Michigan.

5.) Six in 10 Michigan voters Tuesday were Republicans, with the rest allowed to vote under rules opening the party’s primary to others as well. Among those Republicans, Romney prevailed over Santorum, 48 percent to 37 percent.

6.)About 1 in 10 Michigan voters were Democrats and they backed Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, by about a 3-1 margin.

7.) Romney even tied Santorum among among independents.

8.) Romney won MORE of the popular vote in Michigan this time than he did in 2008–as reported by Fox News.

9.) In another indication of Romney’s hold on committed Republicans, more than 6 in 10 Michigan voters said they would back the GOP nominee no matter what — and Romney bested Santorum among this group, 50 percent to 36 percent.

10.) When it came to working-class voters — as measured by those without college degrees — the two men ran about evenly, a clear disappointment for Santorum.

11.) Though Romney has been accused of stirring little passion among his supporters, he led Santorum by 14 percentage points among voters who said their vote was motivated by strong backing for their candidate.

12.) More than 4 in 10 voters in Michigan said they supported the federal bailout of the auto industry, according to the exit poll. They gave Romney a slight edge, while the half who said they opposed the federal aid were split evenly between Romney and Santorum.

13.) Both men had both said they oppose the 2008 and 2009 influx of government dollars that kept General Motors and Chrysler afloat as they were foundering. The bailout became a top issue in the final days of the Michigan campaign, at a time when the auto industry — the backbone of the state’s economy — has revived.

14.) Romney and Santorum essentially split the 4 in 10 voters there who were born again or evangelical Christians in Arizona.

mountainaires on February 29, 2012 at 3:31 PM

“… the key detail in the exit polling from Michigan was this: Romney won the votes of self-described Republicans by 10 points, 47 percent to 37 percent.

The fact that Romney didn’t win by a landslide in Michigan was apparently the result, in whole or in part, of mischievous Democratic voters trying to weaken him. Exit polls suggest that those voters added as much as 3.5 percentage points to Santorum’s total.

Santorum slaughtered Romney among those Michigan voters who said they wanted a “true conservative,” by a margin of 57-17.

But those voters made up only 12 percent of the electorate.

Let’s restate this again:

But those voters made up only 12 percent of the electorate. I believe those voters reside right here at HA…as many of us “other” conservatives have been saying we need MORE than 12% to beat Obama in Nov.

g2825m on February 29, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Well said, and thank you for saying it. The tone around here is mighty CHURLISH, Tina.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/mitt_proves_the_pundits_wrong_bM0GDXBcB5rzRcIq4xOQ8J

mountainaires on February 29, 2012 at 3:36 PM

What a bunch of hooey!

Romney’s instant attack on Santorum’s robo-calls to Democrats cinched it for him. He wasn’t “rattled” at all. If he was ever rattled, it was because of the ridiculous attention given to Santorum for winning three contests with NO delegates at stake. If Romney had decided to contest those and spend some money, there would have been no Santorum boom to put down.

He was clearly predicting victory in Michigan before the polls had turned in his favor, and ran a confident campaign while Santorum self-destructed with gaffes and “explanations” for the last two weeks. As with Gingrich in Florida, Santorum’s debate performance in Arizona showed a man not ready to be a frontrunner. Just not up to it.

FACE FACTS: Romney has won the Tea Party vote in NH, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, and Michigan, and won the overall “Republican” subsets of those with open primaries and the general self-described “conservatives” as well.

So the sort of nutbar who thinks Gingrich or Santorum could win a general election on their merits doesn’t like Romney? So what? Those people don’t like anybody except dead people – and only those because they can’t complain when their words are twisted.

Adjoran on February 29, 2012 at 3:38 PM

I also want to debunk something else that many ABR’s put out there that he is some BIG loser in the past (Key word: past), Romney actually is not. Yes, he is 1-2 overall as far as 1994, 2003, and 2008 campaigns. However, Romney actually WON 11 states compared to Huckabee’s 8 in 2008 and Romney’s 22 overall 1st or 2nd place finishes. Romney won or came in second in these states last go around:
First: Michigan, Nevada, Wyoming, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Utah, Minnesota, Colorado, North Dakota, and Alaska

Second: Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida, West Virginia, Illinois, New York, Arizona, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, California

So you can see as a possible precursor of what may come about this election. The key State above from last election was West Virginia where Romney was on roll after MI, IA, NV, NH, ME, WY, MN, CO, etc with first and second place wins and Huckabee and McCain decided to undercut him there to stop his momentum heading into FL by McCain throwing his votes to Huckabee.

Just something to think about…

g2825m on February 29, 2012 at 3:42 PM

I’m not sure if the impact of Santorum’s attempted sabotage will be to that extent, but he did surely take a major potshot at his own feet.

whatcat on February 29, 2012 at 2:51 PM

Embracing Operation:Kaos makes Santorum look like a dupe. It disqualifies him as a serious contender for the White House. Maybe Santorum’s supporters can spin it into an merely innocent appeal to Reagan Democrats, but I doubt it. Something tells me that on Tuesday a lot of GOP voters will simply be voting to end this process. With no viable contenders for Romney left, they will have no other choice.

EricW on February 29, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Adjoran on February 29, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Bravo!

mountainaires on February 29, 2012 at 3:43 PM

mountainaires on February 29, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Good post!

As Joe Friday would say: “Just the FACTS, Ma’am”

g2825m on February 29, 2012 at 3:45 PM

This is a no brainer

….Thats why I didn’t want Santorum to win.

Romney is too rich to connect to the blue collar folks. Heck Romney is too rich to connect to anyone.

liberal4life on February 29, 2012 at 2:19 PM

odd that you should bring up that word! I bet your brain feels as good as new…seeing that you have never used it. Tell me something ONCE…who are these people voting for him?

KOOLAID2 on February 29, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Something tells me that on Tuesday a lot of GOP voters will simply be voting to end this process. With no viable contenders for Romney left, they will have no other choice.

EricW on February 29, 2012 at 3:43 PM

EW…I was thinking the same thing…I am hearing here in AFG many military members getting tired of the campaign seemingly taking forever and are saying let’s just start focusing on Obama and ONE candidate…this is coming from ALL supporters here.

g2825m on February 29, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Romney’s only weakness? He is too good. The Tebow of politics.

antisense on February 29, 2012 at 2:07 PM

You forgot the sarc tag, right?

Portia46 on February 29, 2012 at 3:49 PM

EW…I was thinking the same thing…I am hearing here in AFG many military members getting tired of the campaign seemingly taking forever and are saying let’s just start focusing on Obama and ONE candidate…this is coming from ALL supporters here.

g2825m on February 29, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Don’t know which military “members” (what does that mean?) you’re referring to, but I’ve yet to meet even one on this base who likes Romney. I’m sure there are some. I just haven’t met them. The favorite amongst pilots is Gingrich.

Portia46 on February 29, 2012 at 3:53 PM

I think last nights and this ENTIRE Primary process is a SHOT ACROSS THE BOW for pundits like Rush, Levin, Allah, Ed, Tina, Laura Ingraham, Michelle M, etc that what THEY SAY IS TRUTH is NOT BASED IN FACTS by voters across America about Romney! It turns out people like him and feel he is MORE than capable to beat Obama AND turn the economy around.

Time for a Paradigm shift for our beloved PUNDITS!

I see a bump for Romney and more States involved in Super Tuesday swinging rapidly Romney’s direction as other conservatives want to start focusing their attention on Obama. Standby…

g2825m on February 29, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Dear Not- Romneys,

Is it not enough for you that Romney has fended off 6 challenges? When will be enough for you to understand that Romney has “earned” this candidacy? He’s a fighter based on his campaign and organization. All the candidates, cept Paul, have levied many attacks against him. 20 fricking debates being challenge. The Obama Campaign machine has been working against him from the start. The liberal press has parsed every single word, and can only take BS out of context. The conservatives on AM radio have been defying him. Fox News personalities have been against him. Conservative blogs have rallied anyone not named Romney, regardless of how silly their credentials are (Herman Cain).

We still have Obama to contend with, but this guy has been working his ass off for 7 strait months of constant fights and campaigning. Give the guy a fricking break already.

Thanks!

rubberneck on February 29, 2012 at 3:55 PM

EW…I was thinking the same thing…I am hearing here in AFG many military members getting tired of the campaign seemingly taking forever and are saying let’s just start focusing on Obama and ONE candidate…this is coming from ALL supporters here.

g2825m on February 29, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Don’t know which military “members” (what does that mean?) you’re referring to, but I’ve yet to meet even one on this base who likes Romney. I’m sure there are some. I just haven’t met them. The favorite amongst pilots is Gingrich.

Portia46 on February 29, 2012 at 3:53 PM

I am not sure if you are overseas or not? Over here in AFG there are several Romney fans as he has been about the ONLY one talking about the military and our national defense OUTSIDE of debates. There are some Gingrich supporters and Paul supporters but have yet to meet a Santorum supporter…at least where I am located in RC-East. :o)

g2825m on February 29, 2012 at 3:56 PM

Dear Not- Romneys,

Is it not enough for you that Romney has fended off 6 challenges? When will be enough for you to understand that Romney has “earned” this candidacy? He’s a fighter based on his campaign and organization. All the candidates, cept Paul, have levied many attacks against him. 20 fricking debates being challenge. The Obama Campaign machine has been working against him from the start. The liberal press has parsed every single word, and can only take BS out of context. The conservatives on AM radio have been defying him. Fox News personalities have been against him. Conservative blogs have rallied anyone not named Romney, regardless of how silly their credentials are (Herman Cain).

We still have Obama to contend with, but this guy has been working his ass off for 7 strait months of constant fights and campaigning. Give the guy a fricking break already.

Thanks!

rubberneck on February 29, 2012 at 3:55 PM

RN…
Very excellent post and so true when you lay it out like that.

g2825m on February 29, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Where did this namby pamby feel your pain “connect” crap come from anyway? I don’t give a crap what corrupt politician connects with me, I just want the damn thing fixed. And if they can’t fix it, I want to fire that person and hire another one to fix it. And yeah- I want to hire someone who has had some success at fixing things. call me crazy.
.
Besides, there is no shortage of scummy corrupt politicians in DC that you can “connect” with, so have a blast with your dream date.

FlaMurph on February 29, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Well said!

rhombus on February 29, 2012 at 4:08 PM

I am not sure if you are overseas or not? Over here in AFG there are several Romney fans as he has been about the ONLY one talking about the military and our national defense OUTSIDE of debates. There are some Gingrich supporters and Paul supporters but have yet to meet a Santorum supporter…at least where I am located in RC-East. :o)

g2825m on February 29, 2012 at 3:56 PM

Stay safe….and thank you for your service. God bless.

Portia46 on February 29, 2012 at 4:22 PM

rubberneck on February 29, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Dear Demented Romney Supporters,

No. Go peddle your Democrat-lite candidate to the independents who vote for image and pants creases.

Thanks!

austinnelly on February 29, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Romney is too rich to connect to the blue collar folks. Heck Romney is too rich to connect to anyone.

liberal4life on February 29, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Actually, according to the primaries, he seems to be connecting very well to a lot of people.

Even other rich people.

Who fund campaigns and super-PACS.

Because President Romney can actually do something in office that helps blue-collar folks, whether he “connects with them” or not.

And he’ll help them whether they voted for him or not, unlike President Obama (links too numerous to even start! Just read HotAir every day for a new one).

AesopFan on February 29, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Dear Not- Romneys,

Is it not enough for you that Romney has fended off 6 challenges? When will be enough for you to understand that Romney has “earned” this candidacy? He’s a fighter based on his campaign and organization. All the candidates, cept Paul, have levied many attacks against him. 20 fricking debates being challenge. The Obama Campaign machine has been working against him from the start. The liberal press has parsed every single word, and can only take BS out of context. The conservatives on AM radio have been defying him. Fox News personalities have been against him. Conservative blogs have rallied anyone not named Romney, regardless of how silly their credentials are (Herman Cain).

We still have Obama to contend with, but this guy has been working his ass off for 7 strait months of constant fights and campaigning. Give the guy a fricking break already.

Thanks!

rubberneck on February 29, 2012 at 3:55 PM

This is a joust or something? I haven’t had the chance to vote yet!

Right now, we need a leader. A man or woman who can be the great communicator; who can go over the same press Reagan had to deal with and explain the essential difference between liberty and tyrany. Reagan studied the writings of all those great minds that culminated in our Declaration of Independence; he had an intrinsic understanding of what made American exceptional and he could communicate it. THAT’s why he was such a great leader. He got the people behind him and the people made the Congress deal with it.

I’ve seen no evidence whatsoever that Mitt Romney thinks deeper than the first floor. When asked what his favorite book was, he said “The Bible”….well, OK. And then he said it was Battleship Earth by L. Ron Hubbard. This is not a man of deep thoughts or who wrestles with moral and historical questions.

I know a few CEO’s and believe me, they can run a company but they cannot provide the inspiration to run a country.

Portia46 on February 29, 2012 at 4:36 PM

austinnelly on February 29, 2012 at 4:23 PM

To bad every candidate you have supported are losers. Birds of a feather eh?

rubberneck on February 29, 2012 at 4:39 PM

g2825m on February 29, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Oh my God! Are you in Afghanistan?

smoothsailing on February 29, 2012 at 4:56 PM

I am not sure if you are overseas or not?

g2825m on February 29, 2012 at 3:56 PM

Does it matter?

smoothsailing on February 29, 2012 at 5:00 PM

I’ve seen no evidence whatsoever that Mitt Romney thinks deeper than the first floor. When asked what his favorite book was, he said “The Bible”….well, OK. And then he said it was Battleship Earth by L. Ron Hubbard. This is not a man of deep thoughts or who wrestles with moral and historical questions.

Portia46 on February 29, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Funny and sad at the same time.

Lightswitch on February 29, 2012 at 5:25 PM

“in the angry, almost frightened way in which he responded to the Santorum campaign’s request to Democrats to vote in the GOP primary”

I’m no Romney supporter, by any means (I support Newt), and I even briefly considered Santorum before just how much of a statist Theocrat prude he is became apparent, but come on, you have to give Romney a break here.

What Santorum did, robocalls to bring out the Democrat vote for him, was way over the line. It’s the friggin’ GOP primary, or I thought it was.

Getting P.O.’d at that is a feather in Mitt’s cap, as far as I’m concerned.

Random on February 29, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Right on, sister. The last thing we need is some effete rich guy talking to a crowd of Iowa farmers and lamenting about the price of arugula at Whole Foods.

Bishop on February 29, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Yes, you’re right! But, not to be outdone by the Dems, the R’s are set to nominate the one man who makes the arugula sucker actually look Lincolnesque by comparison!

ebrown2 on February 29, 2012 at 7:45 PM

Well that’s rich… since Hot Air spent the last two years convincing everyone here Romney wasn’t human.

Dehumanizing is the way you get people to say all that stuff up there. They do it in war… that way you can kill without guilt.

Dehumanizing Mormons is what that guy at the front of all those churches is doing… and you sit right through it nodding along.

petunia on February 29, 2012 at 8:15 PM

Comment pages: 1 2