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Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:30 AM

Romney and Lose-Lose Politics


Romney and Lose-Lose Politics
Posted on Apr 5, 2012
By Richard Reeves

If Mitt Romney had walked by a room called The Forum at the University of Southern California last Wednesday, he would quit his presidential race right now.

The speakers were a retired but still partisan Democratic political consultant, Robert Shrum, and his wife, Marylouise Oates, who describes herself as "a recovering journalist." As you might expect, they ripped the Republican candidate-in-waiting up one side and down the other, Shrum talking about Romney’s strategy, such as it is, and Oates focused on the former Massachusetts governor’s attitudes toward half the electorate, the female half.


Romney, Shrum continued, is actually a prisoner of the right wing. He’s not one of them—they don’t use words like "marvelous" when talking about budgets or anything else. "He’s basically on constant probation with conservatives," said Shrum, so he has to give them anything they want in this campaign. Oates underlined that point, saying that Romney has had to live with the new conservative dogma that has moved (back) from anti-abortion to anti-contraception—at a time when more than 90 percent of Catholic women think contraception is no longer an issue. Santorum, a candidate Opus Dei would approve of, has lost the Catholic vote in most every state.

Shrum also added that the Republicans have lost their "Democrats are soft on defense" wedge issue, because Obama has not been soft on national security. The only thing they have left to say is that he should attack Iran. Unfortunately for them, the president is not nuts.

And then there’s "Obamacare." Shrum argued that if the "tea party Supreme Court," as he called it, overturns national health care, Obama will be helped, not hurt, because the liberal base will unite as never before.

Never say never in politics. But if Romney dispatches a weak field of his party colleagues, money can’t buy happiness but it is very helpful in politics. Cash on the barrelhead is winning the Republican nomination, but his real problems begin after he becomes the party’s candidate.

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