December 23, 2007


Romney in fight to keep hopes alive in Iowa race (Finlay Lewis, 12/23/07, COPLEY NEWS SERVICE)

Evangelical conservatives are expected to constitute more than 40 percent of the Republican caucus-goers on Jan. 3. They have been a major factor in powering the former Arkansas governor past Romney in many Iowa polls and have helped lift him to the top tier of GOP presidential candidates nationally.

Their movement into the Huckabee camp is a big reason Romney now finds himself fighting to keep his presidential hopes alive in Iowa after months of running a textbook campaign rooted in his own formidable financial and personal assets. [...]

Dennis Goldford, a political scientist at Drake University, said in an interview that Romney suffers by comparison with Huckabee, whose years in the pulpit helped hone a folksy style that connects with voters. Goldford suggested what Romney says on the stump often sounds “canned.”

“Romney, at times, comes across as though he's briefing the board on the latest corporate venture even when he's trying to sound personable,” Goldford said. “He just can't get away from corporate-speak.”

Also, Romney's changing positions on social issues such as abortion – he is now opposed – have some questioning his core values.

The stakes in Iowa are huge given that Romney has bet his candidacy on back-to-back victories in the Iowa caucuses and the nation's first primary five days later in New Hampshire. He and his strategists hope that will generate irresistible momentum for subsequent contests in South Carolina and Florida leading up to the Feb. 5 showdown when large states stretching from California to New York hold primaries.

Some analysts say a loss to Huckabee in Iowa, particularly if it's by a substantial margin, could complicate Romney's prospects in New Hampshire despite leading in most polls there.

The consequences could be magnified by the David-and-Goliath nature of the campaign. Huckabee is being outspent on Iowa television ads by a nearly 10-to-1 ratio and counting on the intensity of his evangelical supporters to make up for the advantages of Romney's well-financed statewide organization.

Just anecdotally, we've been doing the Christmas concert and party rounds and it's really striking how little passion any candidate on either side provokes. One of the most frequent comments though is folks criticizing Mr. Romney as too plastic. He's the GOP version of John Edwards.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 23, 2007 7:13 PM

Each of the Rep's candidates is going to drive a section of the party away during the next election. Each of the candidates has a significant Anyone-But group, and this will lead to the disaster for the Party that is brewing. Get ready for 60-40 senate and 50-0 sweep, only the other way than what OJ has been preaching for the last 3 years.

Posted by: sam at December 23, 2007 7:50 PM

No, they don't. Conservatives are orthodox. They vote for the nominee, they just grumble about it. The Zeus-worshipers grit their teeth and vote for the zealot.

It's the Democrats who could be in trouble because Latinos and Asians won't vote for Obama.

Posted by: oj at December 23, 2007 8:34 PM

Oj, big distinction though between Romney and Edwards, one has created billions, the other destroyed as much.

Posted by: Perry at December 23, 2007 9:08 PM

Romney and Edwards are both uber rich and have great hair, so naturally they are seen as versions of each other.

Posted by: erp at December 23, 2007 9:24 PM

I thought Huckabee was the Republican Edwards...

Posted by: Mike Earl at December 23, 2007 9:49 PM

Romney/Edwards? Hair, hair!

Posted by: ghostcat at December 23, 2007 10:15 PM

As Mike Earl suggests, Huckabee's policies are much closer to Edwards' than are Romney's, yet Romney is "the Republican Edwards". Interesting how important superficial impressions can be in comparison to actual issues. Makes me wish sometimes that campaigning were all in print (with maybe a little radio).

Posted by: KarenT [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 24, 2007 1:44 AM

Huckabee is the Republican Clinton/Bush. If Edwards had his ideas people might take him seriously and he'd still be a Senator from NC.

Posted by: oj at December 24, 2007 8:02 AM
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