By Laura K. Garrison
When the race for the Republican nomination kicked off last summer, Mitt Romney was declared the inevitable nominee. Despite the large field of candidates and ever-changing jockeying for positions, political pundits, Republican strategists, and news networks have tagged Romney as the man to beat for a long time, citing his well-organized campaign, endless coffers, and having the best odds against President Obama as proof of his infallibility. While all this is for the most part true, why is it taking Mitt so long to clinch the nomination?
At this point, it looks like the Republican nominee won’t be known until late August, when the Republican National Convention will be held in Tampa, Florida. If Republicans’ indecision extends that long anything is possible, including an open convention in which any top Republican politician could be chosen, such as former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. While this is a real possibility, Romney has been endorsed by many powerful Republicans. Yet if he is so supported by the powers that be, why is there still a question of what will happen? Why are Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich (and Ron Paul, but he doesn’t really count) still holding on?
The fact of the matter is Mitt Romney is his own worst enemy. As Governor of Massachusetts, he was a moderate Republican who championed a heath care mandate in his liberal state. Running for President, Romney has to contend with conservative voters, who see him as too liberal and a flip-flopping politician. Unfortunately for Romney, this opinion was further cemented by a comment made this week by Eric Fehrnstrom, one of his advisers, about the campaign’s general election strategy: “Everything changes, it’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.” Though it is common practice for a candidate to swing back towards the center from the fringes during the general election, Romney’s past history as a moderate is a hurdle he just can’t seem to overcome.
At this point, it appears Gingrich is just sticking around to keep things interesting. His disdain for Romney is legendary, and Gingrich will do anything to stay a thorn in Romney’s side until August, especially considering his backer Sheldon Adelson has deep pockets. Paul, bless his heart, will probably stick around too, but he doesn’t matter. Right now, Santorum is Romney’s only true opponent, and as the poster boy for abortion-hating, Jesus-loving social conservatives, he has what Romney doesn’t: a track record that supports issues the far right cares about. Though Santorum is certainly a threat to Romney in his sad attempts to win over the conservative base, Santorum has a snowball’s chance in Hell of making it to the White House because his views are just too backwards for the vast majority of America.
Romney won a pivotal contest in Illinois on Tuesday, giving his campaign the boost it needed after some difficult losses and narrow victories. While I certainly don’t support him as a presidential candidate, Romney is the Republicans’ only hope for a good fight in November. Romney is right to focus on what he knows best: the economy, an issue that still tops the priority list of most Americans. Santorum and Gingrich should be left alone to self-destruct with their ridiculous and shameful attacks on women’s reproductive health. Though conservatives may not like it, Mitt Romney is the man for the Republican nomination.
Laura is a first year at Barnard and a Staff Writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.
Image via US Buzz Blog.