When candidates use a long primary process to engineer exceptional campaign organization for the general and to personally connect with as many primary voters as possible, a long primary can be helpful. Unfortunately, Mitt Romney so far has not done that; instead, his trail performance has shown all the signs of a lack of stamina. He’s wasted money and time in states he should have won handily. He’s uttered sloppy — albeit sincere — sentences. He’s backed off of attacks on the president — the one person in the presidential race that needs to be weakened for the general election in the fall.
Charles Krauthammer summarized all of this neatly in a recent appearance on Fox News:
On Fox News’ coverage of Super Tuesday, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer explained why Romney’s performance left much to be desired and how the wins he chalked up happened in states he was expected to win. But despite coming well short of dominating his rivals, Krauthammer said, Romney remains the front-runner — albeit a weak one.
“It doesn’t change the big picture, which is that Romney, slow and steady and collecting the delegates and the wins he’s winning, is a relatively weak front-runner,” Krauthammer said. “I mean, look where he won, tonight: Massachusetts and Vermont, home court. That’s like Gingrich winning Georgia. That’s like [Stephen] Hayes winning Wisconsin.”
Romney, Krauthammer argued, isn’t strengthening his hand as the primary continues. Instead, he said Romney’s stature as a strong candidate is diminishing.
“So, I think in the end, it’s the slow and steady of the tortoise, you know, gathering up delegates,” he said. “Romney, who’s on his way, but it’s going to be a painful, long trip. And he gets weaker, not stronger, I think, with every week.”
Meanwhile, Obama continues to heat up. He’s conveniently kept the focus on his administration’s contraception mandate, which he’s managed to use to score points with voters sympathetic to the “plight” of those who can’t “afford” contraception. He has deflected blame for rising gas prices — and Romney has given him the proverbial inch to be able take a mile. He has allowed positive economic signals to speak for themselves.
What’s the solution? To borrow a phrase from The Donald, it’s time for Romney to get tough, to develop a spine of adamantium. He can’t be just the pragmatic businessman; he’s got to be the passionate free market alternative to Obama’s crony capitalistic central planner. He needs to make the economic case against the contraception mandate by making a broader case against the socialism of Obamacare. It’s time for Romney to hammer Obamacare so hard that folks no longer think he’s attached to any part of it. He needs to make the case that Obama is largely to blame for high gas prices — again, thanks to central planning tendencies that favor certain products over others. He needs to make the case that the economy has crept back slowly no thanks to Obama at all — and to illustrate how his tax, regulatory and entitlement reform plans are far superior to the president’s nonexistent plans for reform in those areas.
Sorry, Romney, but it’s time to speak the outrageous truth about Obama — and to risk hate as well as love. It’s not enough to be merely tolerated.