Romney's New Hampshire Win The GOP's Duracell Bunny Marches On
Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire Republican primary with ease, despite attacks from a number of party members. He's too robotic, too rich and lacks principles, they say. But so what? Romney doesn't need to be perfect, he just needs to be more convincing than his competitors -- and he already is.
Battery maker Duracell once had an excellent advertising idea -- a pink stuffed bunny. Powered by their batteries, he whirled through their television spots banging a drum. His drumming was a bit stiff, but it didn't seem to bother anyone. After all, the Duracell mascot could outlast all the other rabbits, who only had ordinary "zinc carbon batteries." He continued drumming away long after the others had run out of energy, and that was the point.
Mitt Romney is the Duracell Bunny of the 2012 Republican primaries. The former governor won in New Hampshire on Tuesday, just as he did the first caucus in Iowa. This time his advantage reached 16 percent. Polls also show Romney is the favorite for the next two important primary states, South Carolina and Florida.
But at most, the front-runner is celebrating plain victories, not wild parties. Voting for Romney is about as exciting as "Vegetables Are Our Friends" week at the school cafeteria, criticized New Republic columnist Walter Shapiro.
Even if that's the case, Romney will continue drumming towards his goal with determination, just like the Duracell bunny. Ultimately he doesn't want to be the king of conservatives, just their candidate. To achieve this, he'll just have to hang on longer than his opponents. Romney may not be the perfect competitor, but he is the least imperfect in the race.
Rivals Weaken Slightly
To understand that, compare Romney to his rivals. In second place was eccentric old man Ron Paul. He wants to abolish the Federal Reserve and end American involvement in wars, positions that make him popular with young voters. But in Florida, which he plans to bypass with his campaign, he stands no real chance -- and without that state, no candidate can become president.
In a distant third place was Jon Huntsman. He served as Barack Obama's ambassador in Beijing, where he learned Mandarin, which he liked to demonstrate in New Hampshire. Maybe that's why the voters didn't understand him. With a whopping 170 appearances in the state, he still only managed to secure a third-place showing.
Even further behind was former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who liked to preach about the holiness of matrimony, even though he is already on his third marriage. Rick Santorum, the devout Catholic who nearly beat Romney in Iowa, made an equally poor showing. He spent his time at appearances prophesizing how support for gay marriage was a form of the apocalypse.
And Rick Perry, the once swaggering governor of Texas? During one TV debate the candidate seemed incredibly proud to be able name the three federal agencies he would abolish as president. But he failed to pull off the task. Less than 1 percent of voters in New Hampshire were convinced.
These dwarves can only be dangerous to giant Romney if they all gang up against him together as they did earlier this week, when they attacked him for the sins he committed during his time as the head of the investment firm Bain Capital. The multimillionaire is too rich, they charged in unison, too heartless as a businessman, a "vulture" at Bain who bought other companies, shut down their plants and eliminated jobs by the dozens.
The Republican candidates suddenly sounded like Occupy Wall Street protesters, a development that really didn't go down well with a lot of conservatives. And who should take such a litany from these candidates seriously? Gingrich has been paid $60,000 a piece for speeches; Huntsman comes from a billionaire family; Santorum has earned millions as a lobbyist in Washington; and Perry likes to eat "socialists" for breakfast.
Although the dwarves won't brandish their weapons all at one time, they still have the potential to assiduously rough Romney up. One casino billionaire just gave Gingrich $5 million so that he could, among other things, air an entire film about Romney's time at Bain. In the film, people who lost their jobs because of Romney's restructuring complain into the camera.
Though the outcome of the New Hampshire Republican primary election is clear, it isn't the end of primary season. Because of the complicated arithmetic relating to the delegate counts, the circus on the right could keep going, regardless of Romney's lead. And with it would come the dirty debates over whether the frontrunner can succeed in convincing dissatisfied conservatives.
Could the crossfire from within his own ranks turn Romney into a weaker candidate for the Republican Party? Perhaps. The criticism from fellow party members has led Romney to make some mistakes. In a speech on Monday, Romney seemed to say that he likes to fire people. The comment came within the context of insurance companies, which he wants to encourage to be more customer friendly by giving people the option to drop them for poor service. But the sentence, coming from the co-founder of Bain Capital, has taken on its own momentum.
Maybe the harassment won't weaken Romney, though. After all, the internal attacks are preparing him for those that Barack Obama's strategists have long been planning. And looking ahead to a duel with the president, Mr. Duracell suspects that Obama's batteries aren't fully charged either.