A Commentary by Gregor Peter Schmitz in Des Moines, Iowa
Americans believe that each individual is the master of his or her fate. But perhaps their presidents are just plain lucky.
Barack Obama, a relatively inexperienced former community organizer, university professor and senator, won the election in 2008 thanks to a triad of lucky coincidences. Party rival Hillary Clinton underestimated the young Democrat, while Americans yearned for "change" after the Bush years, and his Republican opponent John McCain turned out to be a weak campaigner.
Obama's ascent began in the Iowa snow. And it is there that fate has once again smiled on another lucky politician: Mitt Romney, the winner of the Republican presidential caucus in the tiny agrarian state. Romney's victory wasn't decisive on Tuesday evening, when he came in just barely ahead of fellow conservative Rick Santorum, a favorite among the religious right.
But Romney is likely to soon become Obama's official challenger in the November 2012 presidential election, being the best prepared for the upcoming primaries in South Carolina and Florida -- unlike Santorum, who has so far concentrated almost exclusively on Iowa votes. Romney's position also contrasts with that of his third-place rival Ron Paul, the idol of young radicals who wants to end America's involvement in wars and shut down the US Federal Reserve.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has worked hard for this crowning moment, having been a professional presidential candidate for half a decade. He is also a better competitor than he was during his first attempt in 2008, when he came across to many voters as a political robot.
But Romney is mainly plain lucky. Just like Obama before him, he has been helped by three things:
Further Development Essential
These lucky circumstances could turn the Republican primaries into a dull affair that amounts to an easy victory for Romney, though his opponents certainly still have enough money left over for a few attacks on the frontrunner. On Tuesday, Gingrich called him a "liar."
But if Romney manages a convincing victory in New Hampshire on Jan. 10, the Republicans are likely to consolidate their support behind him. That would be good for the former governor, but also dangerous. If he gains the Republicans' support without much resistance, he is unlikely to develop himself further as a candidate -- in contrast to the novice Obama, who had to work hard in the epic primary battle with Hillary Clinton.
But Romney must improve his candidacy to convince the many conservatives who are still skeptical of his multiple changes in position and alleged lack of principles. If he fails to do this, then fate will only be smiling on one politician when November comes around: Barack Obama.
Stay informed with our free news services:
|All news from SPIEGEL International||Twitter | RSS|
|All news from World section||RSS|
ę SPIEGEL ONLINE 2012
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH