By Robert Schlesinger |
There is only one person who can stop former Gov. Mitt Romney now. His name is Barack Hussein Obama. Despite the desperate attempts being made by Romney's opponents to slow him down in South Carolina, the truth is that none of these folks have the organization, profile, and skill needed to snatch victory away from the well-financed and well-run organization of Mitt Romney. It's an incredible irony that in this time of populist movements, anti-establishment backlash, and ideological purity, Republicans are set to nominate a pandering plutocrat who (despite his transparent protestations to the contrary) is the essence of the ruling class. Romney's ascendancy is less of a statement on Romney's strength than it is on the GOP field's weakness, and that's not just my partisan opinion. Roughly 6 in 10 Republicans are dissatisfied with their choices. I suspect things would have gone in quite a different direction if Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, or Haley Barbour had gotten into the race, or if Rick Perry had been capable of putting together anything approaching acceptable debate performances.
None of this is to say that next week's primary in South Carolina won't be interesting. The long knives will be out and at last they'll all be aimed at Mitt Romney. There will be much discussion of vulture capitalism, job cremation, abortion pills, and other similarly unpleasant images. All of this will bloody Romney but will do more harm to him for the general election than it will for the primary. This is particularly true of the attacks on Romney's time at Bain Capital. In some ways, these attacks have actually rallied some conservatives reluctantly to his side.
The independents Romney needs to win over to defeat President Obama, however, will be less inclined to give Romney a pass in the name of "creative destruction." When they really tune into the presidential race, they will come to the table with an image of Romney as a rapacious robber baron. This image is made much more potent by the fact that it is being painted by members of Romney's own party. If the party of Dick Cheney thinks you are heartless, it's like Ebenezer Scrooge calling you a cheapskate. One thing is clear, whatever happens in South Carolina, Obama will be watching intently and with a smile on his face.
About Krystal Ball Former Democratic Nominee for Congress
Rob Collins Former Chief of Staff for Majority Leader Eric Cantor
Ron Bonjean Former Chief of Staff for the Senate Republican Conference