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Eugene Robinson
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Sunday 6 November 2011
“It’s reasonable to assume that if the pattern holds, all Romney has to do is carry on — he has plenty of money and determination — and eventually the party will fall in line, if not in love.”

Is Romney Really the GOP’s Choice?

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The Republican Party’s inevitable decision to nominate Mitt Romney for president is starting to look evitable after all.

That’s certainly not a consensus view among the Washington cognoscenti, who tend to see the yet-to-come primaries and caucuses as mere formalities. Romney, they say, is the GOP’s obvious choice — a poised and experienced candidate with presidential bearing, world-class hair and the ability to speak in complete sentences, even about the economy. Sooner or later, the party will come to its senses and see that he has the best chance of beating President Obama.

The White House certainly seems to buy into this scenario. For months now, virtually every conversation I’ve had with one of those increasingly chatty “senior administration officials,” on any subject, has included at least a swipe or two at Romney. It’s clear that he’s the opponent the Obama machine is gearing up to face.

But I’m less and less convinced. It’s hard for me to see how any of the other candidates can win the nomination — but it’s hard for me to see how Romney wins it, either.

Polls have told a consistent story: Between 20 percent and 30 percent of Republican voters support Romney, and the rest support somebody else. Actually, not somebody, anybody.

It was bad enough when Romney’s main challenger was Michele Bachmann, whose views are so extreme that she favored allowing the nation to go into default — thus triggering the possible collapse of the global financial system — rather than to raise the debt ceiling. It was bad enough when Rick Perry entered the race and vaulted into the lead, sight unseen. It was bad enough when Republicans, having actually made Perry’s acquaintance, practically offered New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie the nomination, along with a dog and pony, if he’d just say yes.

But the whole Herman Cain infatuation is much worse, from Romney’s point of view. Here’s a man with no experience in public office, no knowledge of international affairs and, from the evidence of his “9-9-9” tax plan, bizarre ideas about how arithmetic works. Yet before allegations of sexual harassment threatened to derail the Cain Train, he was leading in many polls.

It is safe to conclude that most Republicans are looking for an alternative. Clearly, theydon’t see Romney as the inevitable nominee — and they’re the deciders.

Mostly, they don’t trust his bona fides as a party-line conservative. And indeed, his record gives them reason to doubt.

The latest evidence came Thursday in a Washington Post story quoting advocates for several liberal causes about their interactions with Romney when he was running for and serving as governor of Massachusetts. According to the individuals quoted, Romney portrayed himself as someone liberals could work with on causes such as abortion rights, gay rights and protecting the environment — and as a “good voice” to help soften the Republican Party’s hard-line stances on these issues.

Today, Romney espouses orthodox GOP positions. He describes himself as unambiguously anti-abortion. He is firmly against gay marriage. And while as recently as June he said he believed humans contribute to global warming, he now says, “We don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet.”

He certainly doesn’t sound like a moderate anymore. But some Republican ears hear the whoosh of wind whistling past a weathervane.

You can’t beat somebody with nobody, however, and thus far the contenders who played the role of “Not Mitt Romney” have all had brief runs. It’s reasonable to assume that if the pattern holds, all Romney has to do is carry on — he has plenty of money and determination — and eventually the party will fall in line, if not in love.

Sounds reasonable, but not inevitable.

The most obvious alternative is a Perry comeback. His poll numbers have nowhere to go but up, and his fundraising prowess — $17 million last quarter — can allow him to be the last “Not Mitt” standing after others go broke and drop out. His hair is every bit as presidential as Romney’s, although he’s still working on the part about speaking in complete sentences.

The other possibility is a leap of faith.

It’s hard to imagine that any of the other candidates can seriously challenge Romney or that some new contender could enter the race. But did anyone think the words “Herman Cain” and “front-runner” would ever appear in the same sentence? So far, the conventional wisdom hasn’t been very wise at all.

eugenerobinson@washpost.com

© , Washington Post Writers Group


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ABOUT Eugene Robinson

Eugene Robinson writes a twice-a-week column on politics and culture, contributes to the PostPartisan blog, and hosts a weekly online chat with readers. In a three-decade career at The Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper’s Style section. He started writing a column for the Op-Ed page in 2005. In 2009, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for “his eloquent columns on the 2008 presidential campaign that focus on the election of the first African-American president, showcasing graceful writing and grasp of the larger historic picture.” Robinson is the author of “Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America” (2010), “Last Dance in Havana” (2004), and “Coal to Cream: A Black Man’s Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race” (1999). He lives with his wife and two sons in Arlington.

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HHIS I shloud have thought of

HHIS I shloud have thought of that!

good point Lawrence. Ron

good point Lawrence. Ron Paul is as blacked out as the effort to impeach Bush.

People better look at RON

People better look at RON PAUL soon! He is forthright, non-wavering, and his record and life speak volumns. No flip-flopping there!!!!

With Perry in the White

With Perry in the White House, it will be just like having W and his Dick back again. Haven't we had enough of "Good Ole Boys" politics? Haven't we had enough of the GOP refusing to get this country back on track - they won't do anything until they get rid of Obama.
Just THINK ! ! ! !

. . . "Is Romney Really the

. . . "Is Romney Really the GOP’s Choice?"
NO - he is their scape goat this time around . . . . McCain played that part - everything he ever stood up for - he fil-flopped on . . Verteran's Benefits -.- Women's Healthcare . . . visit the BUSH ranch and try excaping the truth....Sarah Palin - after the visit . . . wink-wink . . you betcha....
The Republicans Will Not "OPENLY" Throw The Election ??? Swift Boat Attack ?.?.? not real ???? Cain the HERO SHOOTS HIMSELF IN THE FOOT -.- REFUSES TO ADDRESS QUESTIONS -.- LEGAL QUESTIONS -.-PUT TO HIM . . a real presidencial quality ?? George Bush's tactic - move on - next question -.- and barring the questioner from futher "press conferences" (hand picked town meeting - military base press conferences. . . . .yes sir stand up and salute . . WAY TO GO BROWNIE -.- MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
WMD's L9ong Range Missles Yellowcake Valarie Plame Alberto Gonzales John Yoo Scooter Libby -.- you my friend shoot in face so sorry - so-so sorry - the oil will pay for the war . . we will be welcomed as heros WE DO NOT TORTURE....
. . . According to the 2008 official Pentagon inventory of our military bases around the world, our empire consists of 865 facilities in more than 40 countries and overseas U.S. territories.
ASK THE REPUBLICANS FOR TRUTH -.- PLEASE
PUT THE PEOPLE FIRST . . . wall street - banks - golf -fsct findiong??
put the people first

We all know the Republican

We all know the Republican party is based on the support of the crazy Fundamentalist who consider mormons as Christian as the devil.Their is no way these wingnuts will support a man they consider non Christian

There's an article on the

There's an article on the presumed Repugnantcan candidate, and an article on the incumbant Demolicrat candidate. Does the lamestream media blackout on Ron Paul extend to this news service as well?

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