This year, it’s Mitt Romney’s turn

Romney has a history as a turnaround artist. America could sure use a turnaround story

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by L. IAN MacDONALD
Sun Media, Friday, January 6, 2012

Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee for the American presidency because he’s the moderate candidate in a field dominated by the far right.

It’s also his turn, and in the Republican party, it’s usually someone’s turn.

It was Richard Nixon’s turn in 1960 and again in 1968. It was Gerald Ford’s turn in 1976, as he turned back the insurgent candidacy of Ronald Reagan. It was Reagan’s turn in 1980, as he recovered from losing the Iowa caucuses to the first George Bush. It was Bush’s turn in 1988, when he withstood a challenge by Bob Dole. It was Dole’s turn in 1996. It was the turn of the second George Bush in 2000, as he overcame losing the New Hampshire primary to John McCain. It was McCain’s turn in 2008, as he bested Romney in his first run for the nomination.

And now, in 2012, it is Romney’s turn.

It doesn’t matter that Romney beat Rick Santorum by only eight votes in the Iowa caucuses. A win is a win. Romney decided to compete there only in the last week, and among voters in entrance polls who were looking for winnability over ideology, nearly half of them voted for Romney.

Romney will win next Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary by a couple of touchdowns, and so he should as the former governor of the next-door of Massachusetts, who owns a summer home on one of New Hampshire’s golden ponds.

The thing about New Hampshire is that it’s an open primary, in which registered Democrats and independents can cross over and vote in the Republican column. Independents and disillusioned Democrats are critical to Romney’s prospects of defeating Barack Obama in the November general election.

After New Hampshire, the next test for Romney will come in the South Carolina primary on Jan. 21. This is where Texas Governor Rick Perry is making his last stand. If he can’t win in the south, he can’t win anywhere.

If Romney, on the other hand, can win in the heavily Christian south as a moderate and a Mormon, then the race for the nomination will essentially end there. Romney will come under heavy attack ads over the next two weeks for his relatively moderate positions on issues such as abortion—he’s refused to sign a pledge to appoint only pro-lifers to positions in the justice and health departments. Already, New Gingrich has called him “a liar”.

But even if Romney should lose in South Carolina, he should easily win the Florida primary the following week, which would be a wrap on the campaign.

This does not look like an endurance race, as the 2008 Democratic nomination was between Obama and Hillary Clinton. At this point the talk of the Republican going to the 10-states on Super Tuesday on March 6 is mostly wishful thinking by the cable news networks.

Romney has learned that Americans like a smiling president, one who — like Franklin Roosevelt, Jack Kennedy, Reagan and Obama — projects a message of hope for America.

It also helps that he has a strong family narrative as the father of five, and that his wife Ann overcomes every day in her struggle with cerebral palsy.

Finally, as a Harvard MBA, co-founder of a major private equity firm and head of the Salt Lake City Olympics, Romney has a history as a turnaround artist.

America could sure use a turnaround story.

 
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