Numerous political pundits have speculated that Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate for President in 2012. They have begun to label him as the “presumptive Republican nominee.”
That title is based upon poll data, evaluation of the mood of the Republican voters, and speculation. It flies in the face of what every parent, teacher and mentor has told their charges: “Never presume anything until the vote is in.”
The Super Tuesday results gave Romney some delegates, a few victories to add to his resume, and a victory in one of the so-called “key” states: Ohio. Despite some stumbling during the week prior to Super Tuesday he seems to have overcome the negatives to garner the support of enough Republican primary voters to ascend into this “presumptive” category.
There’s a long way to go before the Republican National Convention when the term presumptive can be dropped, and there are a flock of feet capable of being shot into before then. Gaffes, accusations, revelations (such as the TV tapes disclosed this past week regarding his Massachusetts health care program), and who knows what else that will be thrown against Romney can alter the flow of support. As we have seen in watching the campaign, leading candidates come and go, almost with a whim.
But there is a low-key consistency to Romney’s support, and a well-heeled campaign committee has been working hard for five years or more to bring about a nomination. Skilled in turning negatives about other candidates into major issues for voters, this committee has been paralleled by a Super Pac with deep pockets and a desire to produce nasty TV ads that are very effective.
While his committee seems skilled in routing the opposition, it has been weak in walking the candidate through potential conflicts. They seem to fly out of nowhere and are met with luke-warm, sometimes ineffective responses. Or no responses at all. Romney’s response to the Rush Limbaugh debacle, for instance, has been remarkably ineffective.
So whether the term “presumptive” will test out to be accurate or not depends upon a lot of variables, some of which we are yet to see or hear and some which have been hibernating just below the surface and will be awakening to the response of a Spring warmth. The roughest part of the campaign may be ahead, not behind, Romney. Should he become the actual nominee of his party he will face off against a skilled and effective campaigner in the President. At that point the term presumptive will be well handled if put in mothballs. Strong mothballs.
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