March 6, 2012


The Acceptable Man (Robert Costa, March 6, 2012, National Review)

The exchanges highlighted Romney's key weakness this cycle -- even as he surges ahead, scooping up primary victories, the former governor seems to be besting lesser opponents on the electability question, not necessarily winning over converts to his cause.

And for the most part, Romney seems to be fine with that. He's clearly not on an ideological mission; he's not desperate to be a movement hero. Instead, in his words and his persona, he remains a data-driven executive who's running a presidential campaign on automatic pilot, pursuing standard conservative remedies without trying to incite resentment..

"There are other folks in this campaign talking about a lot of other things, and that's fine," Romney told the audience, in a subtle shot at former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, his chief rival in the Ohio polls, who frequently speaks about social issues on the campaign trail. "But for me," he said, "the issues are more jobs, less spending, and smaller government."

That message, which has been delivered repeatedly on Romney's bus tour this week, may be enough for him to win this swing state's primary. It may not warm the heart of every conservative voter, but it clicks with the bulk of Republican voters, many of whom told me in Youngstown that economic growth -- not contraception or marriage -- is their number-one concern.

The latest polls show a dead heat. But Romney has closed strong, erasing Santorum's double-digit lead from last month.  Two polls released on Monday -- from Quinnipiac and the American Research Group -- show Romney leading Santorum. A third poll released on Monday, conducted by Suffolk University, shows Santorum leading Romney by four percentage points.

The upward trend has Romney backers optimistic about their chances.

Posted by at March 6, 2012 6:16 AM

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