Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney formally announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President in New Hampshire, which hosts the nation’s first primary and is critical to Romney’s chances of winning the nomination.
Romney starts off with considerable strengths. He will most likely dominate the fundraising circuit, and amass a financial war chest that few candidates will be able to match.
As of now, if the GOP race is prolonged and protracted, the odds are that Romney would have the most conventional resources to make him the last candidate standing.
In his announcement speech, he checked off all the right boxes, and said the things that gave him the trappings of a consensus candidate intent on cobbling together a coalition of voters and states to win the nomination.
He cited his successful career in the private sector and how he turned around the Salt Lake City winter Olympics.
Simply put: Romney’s best argument to voters will be that he is the most qualified manager/executive to turn America’s economy around and create jobs. Such a message will also allow him to be consistent in the primaries and a potential general election against Obama.
He struck the chords of American exceptionalism when he said that he believed in the America of “freedom and innovation” in which his father was raised and refused “to believe America is just a place on a map with a flag.” He also implied Obama was more European in his outlook by denouncing Obama’s “European answers” to the world’s problems.
Romney contrasted himself from President Obama by saying that “President Obama sees a different America” and criticized President Obama of “leading from behind” and “apologizing” to foreign nations for America’s exceptionalism.”
Immediately, on Facebook, Romney updated his “status” by asking his supporters to click the like button if “you believe in America.”
Romney also said that Obama was “firmly and clearly determined to undermine Israel.”
He gave a nod to those who believe in more expansive states’ rights by saying that he wants a Washington that knows how “to respect the Constitution, including the 10th Amendment.”
Romney talked about the families impacted by the foreclosure crisis by speaking of families he recently met during a weekend in Nevada, another state that is crucial to Romney’s nomination chances and also is home to a large number of families impacted by the foreclosure crisis. In addition to that it is home to many Mormon voters who would obviously be friendly to his candidacy.
And he addressed his biggest substantive liability — the healthcare reform he signed into law and supported on which Obama based “ObamaCare,” which Romney’s detractors derisively refer to as “RomneyCare.”
Romney said that he took on the problem of health care and “hammered out a solution that took a bad situation and made it better” and acknowledged that though it was “not perfect,” it was a “state solution to our state’s problem,” hammering home the federalism defense he will utilize to defend his biggest liability.
Romney’s biggest liability, though, more than any past policy he ushered in or supported, is that he comes off as a wooden, technocratic and robotic executive who spews poll-tested statements and policy prescriptions to accomplish the objective of getting himself the Republican nomination.
In business terms, he must convince voters that he uses the products he endorses, which may be as difficult a task as Tiger Woods had in convincing Americans that he loved and drove Buicks.
Going forward, Romney’s best bet may to be try to convince voters that a technocratic, who has a history of turning industries around, may be more important than a dynamic — or authentic – personality, especially when the bottom line is concerned and the country is close to defaulting on its debts.
In these economic times, it is a message that voters may be willing to buy.
Romney will have to map out his path to the nomination using micro-targeting and “Moneyball” principles made famous (or commercialized) in popular culture by Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane. One difference, though, Romney will have the advantage of having the financial resources the A’s did not have.
Romney has the most plausible paths to the nomination out of any candidate, but none will be easy. His motto going forward regarding the early nominating contests and the primary itself may well be modeled after the one college basketball teams use during their tournament: survive and advance.