romney’s problem

Patrick Ruffini:

Romney should resign himself to the fact that he won’t be able to out-conservative Thompson or Huckabee on issues.

But he does have unique qualities that make him a more appealing choice than the other conservatives in the field on other grounds. In short, his path to the nomination is to out-conservative Rudy Giuliani (and only Giuliani) and out-executive and out-bio Thompson or Huckabee.

In all the ads we’ve seen so far, where is Romney the incredibly successful businessman — the most successful one in North America according to Jim Cramer? Romney the father of five? (this one’s only made the occasional cameo before social conservative audiences). The guy who was home with his wife doing his HBS homework while George Bush was out partying? (Okay, go light on the last part in the primaries.) Or the guy who saved the Olympics?

These were all the inspiring reasons why a one-term Massachusetts governor could run for President to begin with, and instead we get awkward metaphors about three-legged stools and blue vs. black suits.

He’s right.  We are not hearing much about Romney the businessman, Romney the family man, or the guy who saved the Olympics.  All we hear are assurances about Romney’s new conservatism.  He can pass himself off as more conservative than Giuliani.  But Giuliani will always be more authentic than Romney, because he is honest about his differences with social conservatives on gay marriage and abortion. Even though Romney has conservative views now, that is not his strongest argument for the Republican nomination. His strongest argument is his resume, and he is not using that to his advantage in this race.

Romney isn’t the most conservative guy in the race, whether he came by those views in a genuine conversion or a politically convenient one, and he does himself no favors trying to sell that concept.  Sell the resume, not the conservatism.  That’s the only way he can get past all the other candidates.

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