How Romney can survive a loss in New Hampshire and win the nomination
A couple of months ago, when the Huckabee surge in Iowa began, the pundits began saying that a Huckabee win, by knocking down Romney, would help Giuliani. But then, as Giuliani’s national support continued to drop, and as McCain returned from the dead and began his own surge in New Hampshire, the pundits began to say that a Huckabee win in Iowa would help, not Rudy, but McCain. And that is what now seems to have happened. Every pundit now says McCain will win in New Hampshire, even though the polls show him just six points ahead of Romney.
Let’s say that McCain takes New Hampshire. By the conventional wisdom, Romney, having failed to win both Iowa and New Hampshire, would be finished.
There is, however, a fatal flaw in this theory which no one has yet noticed. The belief in the demise of Romney assumes that a candidate who is not Romney will win the nomination. But who will that candidate be? Who can that candidate be? All the other candidates have devastating flaws. Giuliani, with his social liberalism and his history of unprecedented personal improprieties, is now widely seen as unsuitable for the leadership of the Republican party and the presidency. McCain is an egotistical maverick who is widely and justly disliked (to put it mildly) by Republicans and gets his only real support from Independents, Democrats, and the media. Huckabee, while personable and politically talented, cannot be taken seriously as a possible president. Thompson remains at low single digits.
By contrast, Romney’s talents shine, and, while there are questionable things about him, ranging from his changes of political position to what some perceive as a lack of toughness, he has no disqualifying flaws. By any objective measure, he is far and away the best choice for the Republican nomination—and indeed the only plausible choice.
With this new perspective in mind, let’s once again consider the race. Let’s assume that Romney loses New Hampshire, and that the political world with undisguised Schadenfreude pronounces him dead. That doesn’t mean he’s dead. This race has seen one canidate after another rise to prominence, then fall by the wayside, and then return. McCain in 2006 was considered the GOP establishment pick—and the establishment pick always wins the GOP nomination. But McCain’s candidacy self-immolated over immigration. Giuliani then replaced McCain as odds-on favorite, until the negative facts about Giuliani became better known and his poll numbers dropped. That made Romney’s prospects seem more likely, the idea being that he would sweep Iowa and New Hampshire and go on to the nomination, until the unexpected Huckabee surge knocked Romney down and helped raise McCain from the dead, as well as reviving Giuliani’s prospects.
Now, if a human wreck like McCain could come back from political extinction, even if just for the New Hampshire primary, a whole human being like Romney could come back from political extinction. And this is what I am suggesting could happen. As the later primaries unfold, and voters see how unacceptable all the non-Romney choices are, they will take another look at the supposedly finished Romney and see him as he really is, as a talented and presidential figure and the only acceptable GOP choice. Therefore, even if Romney loses in New Hampshire, it should not be seen as the end of his candidacy.
Of course I’ve left out Thompson. At present Thompson is acceptable, but has no support to speak of. If the unacceptability of all the other candidates becomes apparent to voters, and if they still feel Romney is too manufactured, they might turn to Thompson. This scenario requires, of course, that Thompson begins to display whatever quality it is that a candidate needs to display to win wide support. I hope that happens, especially as Thompson has the best immigration position of any of the top-tier candidates, but so far it hasn’t happened. That leaves my Romney scenario in place.
Norm P. writes:
What a travesty were Romney to win the nomination. As liberal as any 1990s Democrat. Same applies to Huckabee. Guiliani is a worse candidate than even Ms. Clinton; a thoroughly despicable human being. McCain is the least pathetic of the four, but those years of torture did nothing for his mental stability. And he certainly has no better understanding of American history, economics, or jurisprudence than the other three. And he is at least as big a warmonger as them. Hunter would be the least objectionable candidate of the five, but he is, among other negatives, an avowed advocate of The War for Perpetual Terrorism. Face it, Dr. Paul is the only Republican/Democrat in the running who doesn’t totally suck. Even Jefferson had weaknesses. Paul would be our greatest president yet.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 06, 2008 04:34 PM | Send