“‘There are a lot of people still searching for what is that combination of things it will take to win in November,’ said Tom Griscom, a longtime aide to former Senate majority leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.) and White House communications director in the latter years of the Reagan administration. ‘They haven’t found it yet.’
“As the election season rolls on, Republicans may be growing less enchanted with their choices.
“In a Pew Research Center poll released late last month, 46 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters rated the GOP field as excellent or good; 52 percent said it was poor or fair.
“The figure was almost an exact reversal of how such voters felt shortly before the New Hampshire primary in early January, when just more than half thought favorably of the Republican candidates. And it marked a steep decline of 22 points from four years ago, when 68 percent said they liked the GOP field.”
“[I]f the talk the among conservative activists at CPAC was any indication of what’s to come as the Republican race moves into a national phase, Romney’s wins Saturday may do little to halt lingering questions about his core convictions or bridge the deepening rift between the party’s insurgent and establishment factions…
“Judd Saul, a tea party activist and Santorum backer who traveled to CPAC from Cedar Falls, Iowa, said the Republican establishment’s fixation on Romney’s electability against President Barack Obama is leading the party to an all-but-certain loss in November.
“‘It is a lie that none of the other candidates are electable,’ he said. ‘It is a flat lie. You know who gets to decide who is electable? The people decide. Not the media, not the pundits.'”
“Many of Romney’s debate performances have been endlessly repeating tape loops of that sort of thing, and his stump speeches are even less electric. Some last about 15 minutes in all, building to a vacuous climax of spoken fragments of the song ‘America the Beautiful.’ At CPAC, he mentioned the soul of America, the durability of the Constitution, the perfidy of taxes, the evil of Planned Parenthood: boilerplate, all of it. It’s sometimes as if he’s trying to run out the clock — on the primary season as well as the event in question — before anyone seriously questions the front-runner status that was handed to him early on…
“Almost all of the presidents elected over recent decades have been propelled by pockets of intense enthusiasm, which can paper over so many specific political predicaments and eclipse tensions with the base. They were saviors before they were disappointments, not disappointments right out of the gate. And almost all of them had something solid — a resonant personal story or an outsize personality or a bold vision — for admirers to latch onto.
“Romney wafts through a voter’s fingers, a puff of presidential-looking air. Because of flip-flops over time, he has been called squishy, but his shortcoming right now is really different — and more damaging — than that. He’s vaporous.”
“‘Another week and the narrative is unchanged,’ Will said. ‘The strongest Republican candidate has the last name ‘Romney’ and the first name ‘not.’”
“Most voters in the GOP, and Independents, we will want to see that candidate who we can trust will just inherently, instinctively turn right – always err on the side of conservatism,’ Palin said on Fox News Sunday. ‘I am not convinced [Romney is that person]. And I don’t think that the majority of GOP and Independent voters are convinced, and that is why you don’t see Romney get over that hump.'”