“That sound you hear? It’s the fat lady singing.
“For the umpteenth time in the Republican presidential primary race, Mitt Romney defeated Rick Santorum in a major Midwestern swing state — a win that effectively forecloses any chance that the former Massachusetts governor might not be the GOP nominee in the fall…
“‘Maybe it’s time to get going,’ Romney said in an interview with conservative talk show host Sean Hannity on Tuesday. ‘This is time for us to start focusing on [President Obama] rather than standing and focusing on one another in these primary contests.'”
“In a move that shows Republicans are coalescing around the party’s front-runner, Mitt Romney plans to begin raising money jointly with the Republican National Committee this week as both the candidate and the GOP brace for an expensive general-election fight against President Barack Obama.
“The arrangement will allow top donors to write checks as large as $75,000 per person, by giving to party organizations in addition to the campaign. That’s far more than the $2,500 ceiling that applies to individual donations to a presidential candidate for the fall election.
“The move reflects a general clamor within the party to begin amassing the funds needed to compete with Mr. Obama’s fundraising operation, Romney and RNC advisers said. “Our donors are ready to mobilize for November,” said Andrea Saul, a Romney spokesperson. For the Republican nominee to be able to compete with the president’s re-election effort, ‘they need to get started now.'”
“Senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod mocked GOP front-runner Mitt Romney’s economic policies on Tuesday, saying his ideas were from a ‘time warp.’
“‘He must watch ‘Mad Men’ and think it’s the evening news,’ said Axelrod on ‘CBS This Morning,’ referring to the popular drama set in the 1960s.
“Axelrod accused Romney of being ‘oblivious to the experiences of everyday people.'”
“Aides continue to debate whether they should seize even tighter control of the former Massachusetts governor or yield to the push by some advisers to ‘let Romney be Romney’ — but they have yet to crack the code. ‘They haven’t been able to grapple with the central issue and central challenge they face as a campaign,’ one Romney adviser lamented. ‘In the absence of a candidate who has any poetry — who has any ability to connect on an emotional level — how do you create a bond?’…
“The operative said the campaign had become overprotective of Romney. ‘It’s part of the ‘We’ve got to keep him locked in a box’ thing. You know, at a certain point, the narrative feeds the narrative, right? So if you keep him locked in the box, then people say, ‘Well, that’s why they’ve got to keep him locked in the box,’ and it’s a giant mistake. He’s a really smart person. You can have a conversation with him, and he’s going to say some things that are going to make you cringe, but he’s going to say some things that sound pretty smart, and you’ve got to be able to take the risk.'”
“What’s interesting about Romney and his supporters is that, despite his conservative rhetoric, moderates and country club conservatives continue to support his candidacy.
“Think about it. Romney, who stresses his opposition to abortion, talks tough on immigration and rules out a tax increase even to help cut the deficit, continues to get the support of pragmatic conservatives who reject former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s ideological rigidity, thought Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) was too conservative and viewed Texas Gov. Rick Perry as a bomb thrower…
“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.”
“Mitt can’t fake it. He stinks at politicking. But then again, so did many others who would later succeed at governing. If Boston wants their candidate to humanize himself, maybe they should just let him admit that fact and stop trying to stuff himself into a suit that doesn’t fit…
“Mitt Romney should then just admit the sad truth. He’s stiff. He’s boring. He looks plain uncomfortable every time he tries to be cool. And despite what the love of his life may believe, he has never been the life of any party. But he may be the only leader on the national stage who has what it takes to fix an economy that’s deep in debt, bleeding jobs by the year and suffering through 30 years of decline.
“Now is not the time to tell jokes. Now is the time to lead. So Mitt Romney, lead. And leave the bad jokes to Jay Leno.”
“With his sweep of the Wisconsin and Maryland primaries, Mitt Romney has finally secured the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. That is no small feat, given the realities of the modern Republican Party.
“But he did so without sketching out any design of what a new social model might look like. Indeed, Mr. Romney seemed to stand aside from the most urgent political and policy question of our time — what comes next — and instead bored us to tears with reassurances that America would be great again if only we elected him to its highest office.
“The key to a Romney victory is not to defeat President Obama; that would be a byproduct. The key is to make the case that the Blue Social Model is truly dead, that a new model is urgently needed and to present the first rough draft of what the new model might look like. Points one and two are an open-and-shut case. Point three is much riskier, obviously, but will (over time and with repetition) sharpen the points of difference. Vote for Obama and surely sink. Vote for Romney and at least there’s hope.
“Mr. Romney will never run his campaign along these lines. He and his team will Etch A Sketch as they go; energy today, bomb Iran tomorrow, whatever gets them through the next news cycle.”