Mitt’s winning, but he’s not perfect

Last night, Mitt Romney won the Nevada caucuses—his second win in a row after winning the Florida primary. South Carolina may have shaken things up for Mr. Romney, but he’s back on-top and in frontrunner status. Yet despite that it’s looking more like Romney every day, the other three main candidates vow to fight-on. At this point, Ron Paul is running more of a movement than a campaign. Santorum is hoping that Gingrich implodes so he can be the conservative Romney alternative. Finally, Newt Gingrich is just bitter. He continues to personally attack Romney, calling him dishonest and a liar. Newt is still in it for the long haul, and he’s in it to win it.

To be fair to Newt, had he dropped-out all the other times when his campaign was in dire shape, he wouldn’t be where he is today. It isn’t so much enthusiasm or money which is driving him forward, it’s his ego. Newt will stay-in at least through Super Tuesday, and of course since he thinks he’ll win in the end, he says he’ll stay in until the convention. Super Tuesday in early March is the one day where he could get another boost from the Sout, but he has to make it through a slow February filled-with Romney states before then. Even if Newt dominates the South, the numbers just aren’t there for him to reach the required number of delegates, short of Romney taking a nose dive.

The problem with hoping that Romney falls in the polls is the fact that Gingrich is even-more flawed than Romney is. In the eyes of most of the electorate, who want a candidate that can sway independents and defeat Barack Obama, Mitt on his worst day is still better than Newt on his best day. The infighting is nastier than it was on the Democratic side in 2008, and the longer the battle wages on, the more the electorate becomes familiar with all the negatives of the Republican candidates. While a positive, ideas-driven primary may strengthen the eventual nominee, the negative attack ads do nothing but weaken him. Romney’s favorability recently fell off a cliff.

On the subject of Romney’s likeability: He’s not-exactly helping himself, either. Mitt may have gotten better at debating and giving speeches, but he’s still a horrible messenger. He is incapable of connecting with people or appearing empathetic to Americans, and his recent “not concerned about the very poor” comment is the latest evidence of this. If Romney wants to be successful, he needs to choose his words carefully and make sure whatever he says doesn’t feed into the out-of-touch rich guy narrative. Looking past the political implications of the comment, it was a ridiculous thing to say. Of course the middle class is struggling and needs help, but don’t imply that the poor are better off than them just because they have food stamps or welfare. A true conservative running for President needs to believe that the poor can do better, and that they can be helped by creating opportunity for them to succeed. In his response to Romney’s comment, Gingrich has talked about turning the “safety net” into a “trampoline” to encourage the poor to start earning money. He supports programs which require the out-of-work to learn a skill to make them employable if they are receiving benefits. Santorum has a similar message of creating opportunity for the poor, and both men have been successful in providing a conservative response to Romney’s comment.

Romney has now admitted that he “misspoke” on his comment about the poor. I understand what he was trying to say, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. But if Mitt’s going to be the face of the Republican Party in the general election, he really needs to improve his skills as a communicator of ideas.

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