Proving again that this year’s primary elections are wide-open Michigan seems to have chosen Governor Romney tonight in a primary that actually carries little weight in terms of actual delegates to the Republican Convention. But a win is a win is a win.
Romney, it seems, needed a win to stay viable. Now Fred Thompson must win in South Carolina (Saturday) if he is to become viable, which seems unlikely. Then comes Florida where Giuliani needs a win. Giuliani’s strategy all along has been to win big on Super Tuesday, February 5. He may still pull it off but the national polls show him lagging behind McCain this week. Interestingly, only John McCain was close to Clinton or Obama in a possible general election match-up. Romney did the worst of the big four and Huckabee was only slight better, both being between 15 and 20% behind in a national match-up with either Democrat. Any handicapper would have to say that the odds on money should be placed on the fact that the Democrats will win in November.
Romney fascinates me personally. I agree with him on many issues but he does not appeal to me on a deep level. I can’t fully explain it but he seems to shift from place to place and leave me wondering about his core. The way he promised that auto jobs would return to Michigan, under his presidency, struck me as both impossible and as a kind of pandering. The pundits said he had to win tonight. He does lead in actual delegates but right now that is not crucial.
One 55-year old Romney voter in Michigan summed it all up when he said: "I see Michigan no longer as a state but as a company that’s broke. We need a businessman to fix it." Romney seems to be the executive with business experience. Given our past experience with such candidates I have my doubts that this is the combination needed to govern well right now. I look for a national symbol who can unite us and then govern across the divides that we face. I also look for a candidate who seems to mean what he says and then takes the heat even if we don’t like what he says. This was one called statesmanship. It seems in short supply today.
Romney, a native Michigander, hit the stump hard during the four days leading up to Tuesday’s election. He mostly blamed Washington—and thus by implication
John McCain, the longest-serving Washington veteran in the field—for the troubles of the state’s economy. In between reminding voters of his roots, Romney vowed to help pull Michigan out of a "one-state recession." These promises seem to have worked in Michigan but I do not think they will work in South Carolina or Florida. (This is part of why the primaries are so interesting since issues vary widely from state to state.) I still do not see Romney as having the stuff to make a serious run at the finish line. Time will tell.
I underscore in these brief observations tonight what I wrote last week. Romney is not the populist that Mike Huckabee is but in Michigan he chose to run a more "populist" campaign right to the end. The statements I cited above demonstrate my point quite clearly. Now Huckabee will do the same in South Carolina, openly working the evangelical network for votes, even preaching in churches and networking pastors aggressively. For Huckabee evangelicals are his only hope and he clearly knows it. I am disturbed by how openly Governor Huckabee
uses pastors and churches to promote his candidacy. When Jesse Jackson did it evangelicals were very critical. Now that their man is a white Baptist minister they seem to think this is just fine.
I heard someone say tonight that Mitt Romney is a bishop in the Mormon Church. (I admit that I do not even know what this means since Mormonism operates in ways that I am not conversant with enough to offer an informed opinion.) Could this possibly be right? Please tell me if this is true or not and give me a source for your answer. If this is true then we have another issue on the table that I think we ought to discuss and think about openly.