The Corner

Mitt Romney

He’s been better (like in Israel earlier in the week ).

Unfortunately Governor Romney missed an opportunity last night. He didn’t knock this one out of the park — and it’s the kind of speech Team Romney would no doubt have wanted him to — as he was speaking to a key and active conservative audience.

He said a lot of great things, but in a long and at times wonky speech — albeit honest and conservative (not conservative on words though…). As I tend to, I liked a lot of what he said — he’s a Mr. Fix it (business, Olympics, Massachusetts budget…) who came to a full appreciation for the dangers to human life and marriage afoot only as governor. But in a dinner speech that mentioned bond caps, he didn’t make the case for Romney 2008 in a rallying way. It was off the cuff — which gave it some authenticity, but no structure. If you asked audience members what he said — “A whole lot.”

That said, I think for folks who heard him for the first time they heard a candidate who looks presidential, who is smart, and who is thinking about the issues they want him to be thinking about. From a survey of the room — and New York Times coverage reflects this — I’d say he didn’t wow anyone but had many conservatives gathered wanting to hear more and willing to listen again. There’s no one who is seriously running who they are excited about — and so he still has a chance to win folks over. People I talked to who had never heard him before liked him after the speech, people already familiar with him were disappointed.

I agree with Newt Gingrich, who denounced the expedited primary process. But facts are what they are. While it is early still, it’s not that early, and the time for missed opportunities is running out fast.

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