GOP: Pick Romney!

Written by Peter Worthington on Tuesday October 18, 2011

If it wasn’t clear before, it should be now: Mitt Romney is the only sensible choice Republicans have for their presidential candidate in 2012. The exciting choice would have been New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who, in any debate or personal appearance, would have demolished rivals – Republican or Democrat.

Christie is quick with a quip in a way that is a bit mindful of Jack Kennedy, and he has a likeability quotient that electrifies people. But he doesn’t want to run for president, though he hints that maybe he’ll change his mind for 2016. (Don’t bet on it – time has a way of revising the list of contenders).

Christie has already endorsed Romney, which underscores his judgment. The other candidates are much less certain:

Texas’ Governor Rick Perry has been a Tea Party comet – brightly lighting the Republican sky when he first declared and dominated the polls, but quickly losing trajectory and brightness as he unraveled in debates against Romney and the rest of the Republican wannabes.

As a possible U.S. President, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann just isn’t credible. While she may be tough, determined, decent, capable and all that, she just doesn’t have the stuff of leadership. Without the Tea Party movement, she’d be something of a wingnut.

Herman Cain, meanwhile, is likeable, sensible and thoroughly hopeless. He has grabby one liners that put one in mind of “the rent is too damn high,” but that’s about it.

And then there’s Ron Paul, who radiates Libertarian wisdom that wins applause, but few votes.

Of course there is Sarah Palin, whose celebrity star is fast dimming. I tend to be the only person in my immediate family who likes Palin. Or, to put it differently, who does not loathe her with a passion that I think is unwarranted.

But then, I never thought Palin would challenge for president. In her way she is decisive, fearless and more intelligent than she’s given credit for. When she answers questions I sort of know what she means, even though her thoughts dash all over the place. Continuity is not Sarah’s strong point. Her decision not to run doesn't take her out of the contest completely, though. She has a strong base of believers, and if she puts her stamp of approval on a particular candidate, that candidate will benefit.

But back to Romney. Depending on which polls one believes, Romney’s popularity as a presidential contender ranges from the high 20s to high 30s. This is potentially troublesome given that in other elections at this time, the leading Republican would be polling in the 40s. Some say Romney is the weakest Republican contender ever. Even Goldwater had a core of supporters that would go to the wall for him. While Goldwater lost badly, he gained respect.

Still, Romney does well in debates, and when he vows he will never bad-mouth his country or radiate shame for America, he repudiates Barack Obama’s penchant for traveling the world and apologizing for America. Romney reassures the viewer that he would never offer (as Obama did) to go to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and personally apologize for America dropping the atomic bomb that ended WWII, or bow in reverence when introduced to the Japanese emperor. Christian fundamentalists may resent Romney’s Mormon roots, but moderates like him and Tea Party zealots have no other place to go.

In short, Romney looks more presidential than his rivals, has succeeded in business, has run a state effectively, and turned the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City into a financial success. He is the most credible choice for the GOP.