As the door closes on the 2012 Republican presidential field apparently without another heavyweight joining, many in the GOP establishment and conservative circles say they are starting to warm up to Mitt Romney, especially now that Texas Gov. Rick Perry's presidential might is being questioned.
That's no surprise to Ben Coes, who ran Romney's 2002 winning gubernatorial campaign. "Cream rises to the top," said Coes, a Boston businessman and author whose second thriller, Coup D'Etat, has just been released.
Coes tells Whispers that Romney's second try for the presidency has similarities to Romney's 2002 campaign, which followed his unsuccessful challenge to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1994. Namely, that while he lost in his first statewide Massachusetts campaign, he made a good name for himself that he was able to capitalize on for his second campaign.
Like in 2002, said Coes, in the current presidential campaign, "people know Mitt. At least they know him better." And, he said, "the more they see him, the better and better he looks."
What's different this time compared to 2008, added the author, is that Romney isn't trying to force himself on the voters, instead allowing his personality and humor to sort of trickle out. "He's letting people come to him and get to know him," said Coes, who described Romney as privately personable, supportive and humorous, a description many of those who know Romney repeat.
"They're going to come back," he said of Republican voters to Romney.
Several conservatives Whispers interviewed agree. "After seeing him in so many debates, I think we're starting to warm to him. We're starting to feel more comfortable with him," said a prominent conservative who had favored Perry.
Conservatives have been concerned about Romney's positions on health care reform and abortion, but concede that none of the candidates are both ideologically pure and have the ability to win. "He can win," said one.
Coes latest book describes a potential nuclear war between India and Pakistan and how the U.S. gets involved to overthrow the Pakistani government. "It's fictional only because it hasn't happened yet," says Coes.
The author says that the Romneys are big fans of his two books. Romney even conducted an interview of the author on the audio version of Coes first book, Power Down.
"He's very encouraging," Coes says of his mentor Romney.
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Corrected on 09/28/11: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Ben Coes. He is an author and businessman.