These debates have turned the Republican presidential primary into a reality show. If the 2008 Democratic primary was "The Amazing Race" that followed compelling characters coast to coast, then the 2012 GOP primary is "The Biggest Loser."
Pity those poor Republicans. Mitt Romney will probably still be the nominee, but the longer the primary drags on, the less people like him.
The terror that Republican insiders feel at being left with Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul as their finalists was evident after the State of the Union. No sooner had Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels given the Republican response than the Twittersphere exploded with fantasies of drafting Daniels for president.
So deep is Republican dissatisfaction that they were willing to ignore the fact that Daniels stands 5’5″ and was the Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget under George W. Bush. If the solution to what ails Republicans is W’s Mini-Me, their problems are worse than we thought.
Recently Romney saw his ratings among independent voters drop 23 points in one week. The reason that swing voters have abandoned Romney isn’t that he has to lurch to the right to appeal to the “teavangelicals” who dominate the Republican Party. The problem with Mitt is that he’s a bit of a jerk, for Pete’s sake.
Romney is the game show contestant who looks likable but who can’t shut up long enough for you to actually like him. Lieutenant Commander Data of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" related to humans better than Mitt Romney does, and he was an android. It continues to surprise me that someone perceived as willing to say anything to anyone ends up saying the wrong thing so often.
By his own admission, he thinks corporations are people, he likes firing people, and he considers the $374,000 he earned giving speeches “not very much.” Romney has said so many things that will help re-elect the President that his mouth should be declared an Obama Super PAC.
Romney’s talent at disconnecting with people was on display in the NBC debate in Tampa.
“I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more,” said Romney in one of his more awkward moments. “I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes.”
Whether Romney paid more taxes than legally required is not the point. He might as well have said, “I’m as tall as I am and not an inch taller.” What does Romney do for debate prep? Watch Monty Python?
This followed on the heels of one of the stranger debate moments in recent memory when Romney talked himself into a hypothetical in which he got out of paying all his taxes. It began, as so many things do in Republican debates, with Newt Gingrich talking.
“So I’m prepared to describe my 15-percent flat tax as the Mitt Romney flat tax,” said Gingrich. “I’d like to bring everybody else down to Mitt’s rate, not try to bring him up to some other rate.”
And then Mitt, who decided to teach another lesson in how to win enemies and alienate people, clarified that capital gains would not be taxed at all under Gingrich’s tax proposal.
“Under that plan, I’d have paid no taxes in the last two years,” said Mitt. Truly, Romney was so tone deaf in this debate that the debate organizers should have let him park in a handicapped space.
Mitt Romney’s problems have nothing to do with the fact that he makes $20 million a year and can’t hit a curveball. Romney says that Obama wants to turn America into an entitlement society while he wants to turn us into an opportunity society. Actually, Obama thinks all Americans should be entitled to the same opportunities. Romney thinks the way for us all to achieve the American Dream is to allow him to keep more of his money, and not even all of his supporters agree with his position that the government should tax work more than wealth.
If Mitt Romney’s got problems, the Republican establishment doesn’t think Newt Gingrich is a solution. Before too long, Romney should have the nomination locked up, at which time his handlers can deal with the real problem facing the campaign: the candidate.
It’s time to reboot the Mittbot.
© Copyright 2012 Jason Stanford, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.