LIVE BY THE BEER, DIE BY THE BEER
Quin Hillyer of The American Spectator's blog thinks he knows how to do CPR on Romney's campaign:
Among the several things Romney could do to change the narrative of this campaign--a narrative he desperately needs to change--one of the easiest to do would be to try to generate a sense of momentum, a sense that people are flocking TO him now rather than throwing in the towel. And the way to do that is with a one-minute ad that makes use of endorsements and support-announcements that have come in the past few days. Just quick video shots of certain people: "I'm Rush Limbaugh, and I'm voting for Mitt Romney." "I'm Sean Hannity, and I'm for Mitt Romney." "I'm Laura Ingraham, and I'm for Mitt Romney." Mark Levin. Michael Reagan. Rick Santorum. Jim Talent. Rich Lowry. Michelle Malkin.... and then an UNKNOWN mother getting a baby out of a car seat: "I'm Jane Johnson, and I'm for Mitt." A father at a child's soccer game: "I'm John Jones, and I'm for Mitt." That sort of thing. All with some sort of very subtle but upbeat music in the background....
It's that last part that just seems so wrong. Romney ... and ordinary people? That's like oil and water, no?
Here's Romney's big problem: He's tried to replicate the reality of the last two Republican presidencies -- a hereditary member of the ruling class taking on the job that is his due -- rather than the myth. The myth, of course, is that the George Bushes, despite their elite status, were jes' folks, the son a Texas rancher who drops his g's and the father a humble suburban dad as depicted in the '88 convention speech Peggy Noonan wrote for him.
It's not that people who voted for the Bushes thought they were getting middle-class guys who sometimes had trouble paying the bills. It's that they persuaded themselves that the Bushes (as the standard poll question puts it) "care a lot about people like us" because, deep down, they are like us. Voters felt that (all together now, class) they'd like to have a beer with the Bushes (even if, in W's case, it would have to be an alcohol-free one).
In our presidential campaigns, which go on forever and are personality driven, every candidate is going to get into a jam now and then and feel the need to say to voters, "I'm in a tough spot. I need your help." Can you even imagine Mitt Romney doing that and connecting?
His persona is: "I've been successful at everything I've done, I have a great family, I'm handsome, and I'm richer than God." No phony subtext of ordinariness! No vulnerability whatsoever! Hard to play on voters' sympathies that way.
So he's toast. And the next plutocrat who seeks the Republican nomination will presumably know better than to be quite so blatant about his position in the pecking order.
How bad is it for Romney, by the way? As another AmSpec blogger notes, it's this bad:
We're starting to see polling data that shows McCain's lead increasing if Huckabee drops out of the race.
Yup -- Huck is said to be staying in the race just to siphon votes away from Romney on McCain's account, but look what would happen if he were to drop out, according to a new Fox News poll (PDF):
6. If the 2008 Republican presidential primary were held today, for whom would you vote if the candidates were:
John McCain 48%
Mitt Romney 20
Mike Huckabee 19
Ron Paul 5
(Don’t know) 5
(Would not vote in GOP primary) 2
...7. If John McCain and Mitt Romney were the only choices in the Republican primary, how would you vote?
(Don’t know) 6
(Would not vote) 3
In other words, if Huck drops out, McCain gains 14 points and Romney only 9.
(Or maybe McCain is getting all those Ron Paul fans -- preposterously, McCain does beat Paul among anti-war primary voters already....)