You know the story, right? A breakthrough politician from Massachusetts -- the state that's produced so many presidents, from John Adams to John Kennedy, and so many strong candidates over the years. Sure, he's boring at best and annoyingly pompous at worst, and there's something a little fake and a little too blow-dried about him. He's not the firebrand that the base of the party would so desperately love to see in the Oval Office. But the party rank-and-file is also convinced that the incumbent president will destroy the country if given a second term. The nominee has to be the person with the best chance of winning, not the best person.
The primary voters are going to go with their head this time around, not their heart.
It's the story of John Kerry, the Democratic primary voter, and the 2004 election -- and you know how that turned out in the end.
But now it's the story of Mitt Romney, the Republican primary voter, and 2012.
And the story probably ends the same way.
If you haven't noticed, Romney is starting to show a little daylight with the rest of the GOP pack, especially if his bete noir Sarah Palin skips the 2012 race, as may well happen. Check out this brand new poll:
Republicans' support for Mitt Romney as their party's 2012 presidential nominee has increased significantly to 24%, compared with 17% in late May. As a result, Romney has widened his advantage over Sarah Palin in the latest update on rank-and-file Republicans' nomination preferences.
The Gallup poll shows that Romney's support is getting wider but not very deep. His intensity of support, according to the pollster, is nowhere near that for two Tea Party favorites in the race, Herman Cain (who comes in second if Palin doesn't run) and Rep. Michele Bachmann. I flagged these poll numbers after listening a bit this morning to Dom Giordano on WPHT, who's been talking about Romney lately and said he's been surprised by his support from conservative Philadelphia-area callers.
Some Republicans are getting behind Romney, clearly, because right now polls are showing him with the best numbers in a head-to-head matchup with President Obama, who crushes most of the other GOP wannabes.
And so they rally behind Romney even though some leading Tea Party groups have said they will actively work to prevent him from getting the GOP nomination. They rally behind Romney despite the fact that Obama's health care plan that they despise is modelled after "Romneycare." They rally behind Romney even as the candidate draws scorn from Rush Limbaugh (usually the kiss of death in GOP primaries) for being virtually the only GOP hopeful to acknowledge global warming, and despite his flip flops over the years on abortion or even on the effectiveness of Ronald Reagan.
You know, the Democrats had this all figured out in 2004. John Kerry volunteered to go from Yale to Vietnam and won medals for his valor there, while Yalie George W. Bush hid in the Texas Air National Guard -- and so that would neutralize the GOP advantage on defense at a time when the nation was consumed with war and terrorism.
It didn't quite work out that way, did it? Now, you have Romney who's a "successful businessman" when the public is worried about jobs. But just like Karl Rove went right after Kerry's war record, the Democrats wiill relentlessly portray Romney as a job destroyer, not a job creator. And conservative voters won't have the intensity for Romney in November 2012 to overcome that.
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.*