The Corner

Is Romney Viable?

Romney leads in the delegate count, but I think this weekend’s results show astounding weakness in the candidate who was supposed to be the most electable conservative in the race.  Consider two things: 1) Romney spent $4 million and 22 days in South Carolina, and still finished behind Fred. 2) Romney has not one any seriously contested constest.  Nevada? Wyoming?  Please.  Where Romney has made a major investment (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina) he has failed.  Michigan?  No other candidate made a comparable investment or effort to winning the state, so I’m not sure that helps the case.

What’s Romney’s problem?  For many folks (my self included), it is a perceived insincerity.  I too often get the sense that Romney is saying what he thinks folks want to hear instead of what he believes.  It isn’t just the “evolution” of his views, it is also the small things: The small, subtle exaggerations that arise when Romney is trying to ingratiate himself with various groups. (Remember Romney the life-long hunter?) The blatant pandering to the auto industry in Michigan in a way that suggests some very unconservative views.  Romney’s MBA style does not help much here, as it reinforces the perception of Romney as someone who solves problems without much regard to underlying ideological principle.

Does this mean Romney’s finished?  Not necessarily.  In a one-on-one race, he may be the least bad option.  There’s no question I’d support Romney over Huckabee (Then again, I’d support anyone over Huckabee.)  There also may be many folks who would support Romney over McCain.  But unless the race winnows down to a one-on-one soon, I would think Romney’s in trouble.

[Yes, my guy is in even more trouble, but I’m trying not to think about that right now.] 

Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.

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