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Mitt Romney – Back again in 2012

The race for the GOP nomination for President in 2012 is likely to be one of the most hotly contested nomination battles in the party’s history. There is a general perception that President Obama is highly vulnerable and that the Republican tide of 2010 is still rolling in.  It’s only nine months to the Iowa caucuses and this means, that for all practical purposes, campaign 2012 is already underway.

There are several candidates already off and running, and several more who are still weighing their prospects.  One

candidate, who is already hard at work, is Mitt Romney.  It can be argued that Romney is one of the most qualified candidates in the Republican field.  He is the only candidate who can seriously claim to have substantial business experience.  He was an executive with Bain Capital, a private equity firm, and he served as the last minute rescuer of a substantial enterprise, the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Shortly after saving the Olympics, Romney ran for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and won.  Given that the Bay State is one of the most Democratic states in the Union, that was no small feat.  While he began his term wanting to run Massachusetts more like a business, and do something about the budget shortfall, which he did, he quickly, and rather surprisingly, turned his interest to healthcare.  In a first of its kind in the nation, Mitt Romney, working with a Democratic legislature, developed a program of mandatory medical insurance.  It was an amazing accomplishment for a Republican Governor. 

In 2008, Romney, seeing himself as a business-oriented Republican, launched a bid for GOP nomination for President. He raised more money than anyone else and was an energetic campaigner, but for all his effort, he managed only mixed results.  He lost the Iowa Caucuses to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and then fell short when John McCain’s campaign staged a comeback in New Hampshire.  But he stuck with it, winning Michigan, where his father once served as Governor, and doing well in several caucuses. But, when McCain defeated him in South Carolina and Florida that was the end of Romney’s 2008 prospects.

However, Mitt Romney isn’t the sort who is deterred by setbacks and is already gearing up for another high profile, high dollar campaign in 2012.  Just like 2008, he’s doing well in the national polls as well as showing good numbers in several key primary states.  But being the perceived front runner can be dangerous. Everybody is out to get you.  
The conservative base of the GOP, the ones who show up to vote in primaries or turn out for caucuses have never warmed to Romney.  They think he is too moderate and worse, many have dubbed him a flip flopper.  Some would argue the latter just represents being flexible, but for conservatives who hold to a strict ideology, that can be a little hard to swallow.  One issue that still riles many social conservatives was Romney’s support, while Governor of Massachusetts for civil unions for gays.  He opposed Gay Marriage, but considered civil unions, particularly in liberal-minded Massachusetts, a good compromise.  Alas, he moved away from this position as he cast his eyes on a Presidential run and is now opposed to any gay unions at all.

In 2008, his campaign viewed his Massachusetts Healthcare plan as an asset.  It showed how states could take on the health care issue without Federal involvement.  However, 2012 is another story, and Romney’s “success” in healthcare is already causing him trouble.  One of the “musts” for any nominee seeking the 2012 GOP nod is opposition to what’s been dubbed “Obamacare.”  While there are differences between the plans many of the key tenets of Romney’s Massachusetts plan can be found in Obamacare.
 
Religion is also an issue for Romney.  He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints otherwise known as the Mormons and this is worrisome to many Evangelical Christians who make up a large part of the Republican conservative base.  His approach to handling this issue has been similar to the way John Kennedy addressed his Catholic faith.  Romney says it’s part of who he is, of course, but that he maintains a strict belief in the separation of church and state.

For many, the attraction of Romney isn’t so much his die-hard conservative credentials, which are arguably weak, but rather that he would do well in a head-to-head contest with Barack Obama.  Some argue that many in the current GOP field are just too conservative and too inflexible to win in a national race.  In a down economy, with a government that’s deeply in the red, a Romney Presidency, given his business background, has a strong appeal.  Of course, before Romney can make his case to independent voters, he first has to win over the conservatives who choose the nominee.  And that may prove an insurmountable obstacle.
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