Photo: Gage Skidmore | Flickr
After a somewhat rocky start, it looks like the tides are finally starting to turn for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts Governor has silenced conservative critics who saw him as too weak and ideologically wishy-washy, and a grim economic outlook has convinced Republican leaders that they might be able to beat President Barack Obama after all. The challenge for Romney now is to capitalise on this new confidence to unite the party, energize sceptical conservatives, and convince independent voters to get behind his White House bid.
But to do this, the candidate may have to overcome what many top Republicans see as their biggest obstacle: Mitt Romney himself.
Politico‘s Mike Allen, Jim VandeHei, and Jake Sherman highlight these concerns today, writing that GOP leaders are worried that Romney will revert back to the awkward, stiff, Richie Rich candidate who struggled to connect with voters during the Republican primaries.
The story goes on to outline the biggest fears that Republicans have about Romney:
- He says dumb stuff: Although the Romney campaign has managed to cut down on flubs since the primary race, Republicans are still worried that Romney’s lack of political nuance will turn the candidate into a caricature.
- He still can’t connect with voters: Some Republicans fear that, no matter how bad the economy gets, Romney will never be more likable than Obama.
- He can’t broaden the GOP base: Top Republicans are seriously concerned about Romney’s ability to woo women and minority voters, two demographics that will be key to winning the independent vote this fall. On the other end of the political spectrum, Republicans are also concerned that Romney won’t be able to energize conservative voters, especially if the Supreme Court defeats Obamacare.
- The Mormon ‘problem’: The three Politico writes point out that top Republicans fear that voters are more freaked out about Romney’s faith than is detected in polling.
- Donald Trump: As evidenced by last week’s birther resurgence, Romney still has trouble controlling a) his surrogates and b) the more extreme fringes of the Republican party — both of whom could cause problems for the candidate down the line.
Allen, Vandehei, and Sherman report that the Romney campaign believes they can overcome these problems by sticking to an economic message that can unite conservatives and independents who are unhappy with Obama. The question is whether Romney can convince voters that he is the guy who can turn things around.
“I worry that the default will be for the devil you know over the devil you don’t,” Weekly Standard editor William Kristol told Politico.
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