Let us start with the "cons." If you support Mitt Romney, you are obviously horrofied with the utterance of a "brokered convention." It is easy to understand why! "Brokered convention" translates to Mitt Romney not having sufficient delegates to have wrapped up the nomination.
The former Massachusetts Governor and the Republican Establishment all but concluded that Romney would the be the nominee. And, he may well be. BUT, there was the hope that it would be a fast, painless process. There was some concern when Rick Perry came on the scene. He had money and an organization. But his late entry and endless stumbles did him in.
Herman Cain came from nowhere and for a few exhilerating weeks, looked like Cinderella. But, the shoe didn't fit!
Nobody expected Ron Paul to do as well as he has done. His core of Litertarians were expected to get him on ballots. But support estimates of 5-7%, not 12-16% were projected. Unexpected was his appeal to the "millinials." More on that!
There were entirely too many debates. But that spearheaded a flawed Newt Gingrich into a South Carolina win and some serious help from "sin city."
Totally unexpected was the emergence of Rick Santorum. His legislative experience commanded attention. But an eighteen point Senate loss underlined his departure. It didn't help that he had no money!
In the end, it looked like an easy Romney jaunt. Yet, amid discussions centering around "who" would be Mitt's best running mate, Rick Santorum swept Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri. Romney's people naturally downplayed it. But with Michigan looming, followed closely by Ohio, Romney insiders are deeply worried. In essence, if Romnney loses both, even if he wins Arizona, it will probably be the end of his campaign.
Not to say that it will be over. It won't be! But with Gingrich spending big bucks in the South and Santorum likely to corral a handful of Super Tuesday delegates, it becomes improbable that Mitt Romney will have the necessary 1144 delegates come Tampa time.
Paul Ryan said on NBC's "Meet the Press," Sunday that it was too late to go outside the present GOP field for a potential nominee. He was listed along with Governors Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels as alternative selections in a brokered convention.
So what happens if Romney shows up to Tampa with 850 delegates, Santorum with 650, Gingrich with 450 and Ron Paul with 250? Could a deal be struck?
Smart money would suggest that Gingrich would never support Romney. But, his Vegas "money bags" has listed Romney as their "second choice." Santorum appears ideologically closer to Gingrich. And Newt isn't above cutting a deal! But money talks!
Paul doesn't seem to like any of the remaining candidates. But he has been less critical of Romney than any of the other candidates. Could he be sending a signal? Mitt could certainly use those "twenty-somethings" that make up a large part of Paul's base. It has even been suggested that the Texas Congressman might be tapped as Romney's running mate!
What about the alternatives? Pundits say that Jeb Bush "isn't interested" and Mitch Daniels doesn't "exite social conservatives." It is unlikely that Chris Christie would be the nominee for both reasons. The two remaining options not mentioned are, Sarah Palin and Marco Rubio.
Palin may have aspirations to be drafted as the nominee. She did, after all, suggest a "brokered convention." She continues to refrain from endorsing any candidate. We remember in the early days of the primary season, everyone was holding their breath in anticipation of her announcement. That obviously never came. However, if Romney fails to win Michigan and Ohio, look for her to step up the "alternative to Romney" argument. "Who" that might be will remain undisclosed.
Rubio has been on the top of everyones' Vice Presidential wish list. He has repeatedly expressed no interest in the position. Even more so than Ryan, Marco Rubio is the rising star of the party. He has recently drawn accolades for his "Reaganesque" positions on foreign affairs. A consummate "supply sider," the freshman Florida Senator is the closest answer to everything the party represents. Like Santorum, he appeals to "blue collar" workers. He received 58% of the female vote in Florida's 2010 Senate election. Ron Paul's "millinials" view him as a "rock star."
Suppose Ryan is correct? Why would Santorum not be the better option? Ed Gillespie went on record Sunday suggesting Obama's "arrogance" and "mishandling" of the recent contraception issue could cost him three states. He is talking about Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. Obama predicted that he would "crush" Santorum in a general election. He "hoped that the Republicans nominate him." This prompted Gillespie to remind the President "better be careful what he wished for!"
The normally reliable National Review favors Mitt Romney. It has concluded that Rick Santorum's proposed economic plan is an anachronism, based on "America in the early 90's." That may be true. But there is a longing in America to return to the days of the factory job, the family unit and faith based existence. This has defined the America that most white, blue collar males relate to.
Santorum's plan would bring some manufacturing jobs home. It might ultimately lead to inflation. But it could rekindle a spirit of "buy America." Coupled with conservative social values, this position would not be unwelcomed in the rust belt. But are we talking about everyone? Or, only "angry white males?"
Polls show Romney doing better with female voters. Democrats are confident that Santorum would be a disaster with Independent women. They are attempting to position him as dogmatic and judgemental. It's working inasmuch as it's placing him on the defensive. The media is relishing the exchange.
Then there is the question of Hispanic voters. Much to the chagrin of Democrats, they aren't enthralled with Obama! Would social conservatism and the church be enough to sway them toward Santorum?
Hispanics are typically "pro-life" and believe in the "sanctity of marriage." But the big need here as with the rest of the country is jobs. Promoting blue-collar factory jobs will gain traction with Latino voters. But is Senator Santorum's proposal realistic? There won't be a second chance if it isn't!
What about the women? Romney will be stronger with them, offsetting potential liabilities with Latinos. But that won't be enough; even with the unlikely "Paul marriage." His real problem rests with the same blue collar workers who have propelled Santorum to a narrow lead. They simply don't connect with him.
In short, the Republicans have no perfect candidate currently in their field. Against these opponents, with the possible exception of Santorum, Obama looks like a winner. But that's today. A serious spike in gasoline prices, or if unemployment goes no lower in the next few months, everything changes. All eyes are on Europe and the Middle East. Any hint of a calamity in either region could spell doom for Democrats!
Is it too late for another entry? It depends on circumstance, name recognition and how uncomfortable the party leaders are with the present field.
Sarah Palin is known. She is practical and gets to the heart of the issue, which stirs mainstream America. But she may be too polarizing to win the general election. While her endorsement could be pivotal, it's probable that she wouldn't be "new" enough to be novel.
Marco Rubio is "new" and "novel." But a lot of voters will admit that they know little about him! Television can remedy some of the questions. Rubio is the master of social media and extremely well spoken. He would be a formitable debate opponent for Barack Obama. Most significantly he exudes the passion that reflects American exceptionalism.
Mitch Daniels comes off as a steady, experienced executive. He would be the Establishments' Midwestern answer, though the excitement might be lacking. He would probably make an excellent Vice President.
Jeb Bush may want to wait another four years, although he would win Florida by double digits tomorrow. Insiders note that "if Jeb had wanted it, he would have been the nominee."
Chris Christie is pro-choice and has supported gun control legislation. That dooms him in the south. But what a great Attorney General he would make!
Paul Ryan is a smart, articulate comer. But he may lack the passion that has vaulted Santorum past Romney in recent weeks.
Possibly it will come down to which candidate is most successful at making Barack Obama defend his record. Obamacare and Cap and Trade are unpopular with the majority of Americans. If the discussion centers there, the Democrats will lose!
All in all, Romney supporters continue to say that their candidate is "most electable." Paul backers claim their candidate "is the only Republican who can beat Obama." Gingrich thinks he'll have another surge. With ten million dollars of new money in his bank account, he probably will.
Expect the real discussion to begin if Romney doesn't win Michigan and Ohio. Don't rule anything out!
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