By Mary Kate Cary |
Yes, while former Gov. Mitt Romney will eventually be the Republican nominee for president, it will not be the same Mitt Romney who barely eked out victory in Iowa. The other, more conservative candidates as well as the activist base of the Republican Party are slinging mounds of sticky mud at Romney, which will tarnish him throughout the primary race and significantly handicap him in the general election.
After all, this isn't like the 2008 Democratic primary, when you had a camp of voters genuinely fired up about Hillary Clinton and a camp genuinely fired up about Barack Obama. There was mud in that race, but mostly it was about competing visions and personalities. In this case, wavering Republican support for everyone from Rep. Michele Bachmann to Gov. Rick Perry to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to, now, former Sen. Rick Santorum has little to do with enthusiasm for them as candidates and almost everything to do with the fact that they are not Mitt Romney. In a tough race against a popular sitting president, the Republicans will not be well served by an unpopular candidate who conservative voters have to hold their noses to vote for, if they turn out to vote at all.
Somehow, just hours after the Iowa caucus results were in, I got an E-mail in my inbox from Rick Santorum. (Perhaps it's because his team discovered our mutual love of sweater vests). In the E-mail, Santorum attacked Romney as a "bland, boring, career politician who will lose to Barack Obama." I agree with Santorum: Romney will lose to President Barack Obama—largely because Americans see that Obama has a plan to rebuild and restore America's promise, while Romney offers more of the same that got us into this mess. But Obama's victory will be made much easier with the help of conservative Republicans who can't stand their own candidate.
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