It appears that the Herman Cain implosion and the concurrent rise in the polls of Newt Gingrich may have narrowed the GOP primary race down to Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. While I thought that Rick Perry’s money would enable him to be a player in Iowa, he consistently polls in the low single-digits and has simply done nothing right in his campaign.
The Iowa caucuses are a big wild card. The GOP side has a heavy presence of evangelical Christians and caters to those spending lots of time on the ground there. It would not be a major surprise if Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum or even Perry were able to convert their religious views into electoral support there. Ron Paul has a committed and vociferous cadre that could also produce caucus goers. Jon Huntsman chances of springing a surprise are only slightly better than mine, and he has already said he is banking everything on New Hampshire. It is very difficult, however, to see any of that quintet doing well enough in both New Hampshire and South Carolina to become factors down the road. Am I prematurely writing off Cain? When I heard on the radio this morning that his first “in-person” meeting with his wife following Monday’s allegations of marital infidelity would not be until tomorrow, I did not get a good feeling about the future of his candidacy. Actually, it was a good feeling since, as a candidate for the Presidency, the man is a clown.
That leaves Newt as the sole non-Mitt candidate. Will he experience this year’s remarkable string of boom-then-bust candidacies that began, remarkably enough, with Donald Trump? I do not think so. The man is smart — as he would be the first to tell you — which immediately distinguishes him from some in this year’s field. He is used to national exposure, much of which is negative, but I think that works to his advantage. He has already been through what could be called a rough patch and is still around. (He called that period in the spring as the worse two months of his life, which I am sure is of great comfort to each of his first two wives.) Unlike the Bachmann, Perry and Cain boomlets, he was already well-known so that his weaknesses — of which there are many — are well-known. So I think he is here to stay.
How is Mitt doing? As I said in an earlier post, I think his shtick is starting to wear thin. He is reminiscent of a sporting coach who feels comfortable with a lead and takes his team out of their rhythm by “holding the ball.” That analogy admittedly breaks down because Romney’s “lead” was support in the polls of 20 to 25 per cent, and a cast of opponents more akin to the bar scene in “Star Wars” than a roster of future leaders of the free world. But it holds up when we look at his first televised ad, an attack of Barack Obama (with its distorted “quotation”), instead of a reason why Republican primary voters should back him. He is also remarkably thin-skinned. In a rare interview with a news organization, he later complained that the Fox (sic) interviewer was unduly aggressive. He further displays the haughtiness of a prep school debater when he harps on following the rules during the seemingly endless debates of the GOP primary run-up.
One thing is certain. This is going to be very interesting leading up to the first actual vote by a human in just over one month from now.