However, if there is one point of consensus among plugged-in Republicans on the 2012 field, it is that Romney can’t win unless he does a mea culpa on RomneyCare. Since he didn’t and he won’t do that, he’s not going to be the nominee. Other than Romney admirers (and even some of them!) it’s hard to find serious Republican players who disagree with that.
And so when Romney ignored the topic at CPAC, he hardly did “no harm.” To the contrary, he simply reinforced the notion that he has an insuperable problem. Not only did his “ignore the elephant in the room” tactic not go over well with Republican pols, activists and insiders, but the competition showed up. The presence of a number of smart conservative contenders who don’t have the RomneyCare problem (e.g. Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)) reinforced the underlying problem with Romney’s candidacy: Why vote for him when Republicans can vote for someone who didn’t originate ObamaCare-lite?