Romney’s real challenge: Winning over the rank-and-file

Mitt Romney had the most to lose at the CPAC convention, but his speech was better than adequate. I would give it an A- or a B+.  At the end of the speech, I even thought he had achieved some authentic passion.

But Romney no longer needs to perform in front of conservative audiences to convince them he is a true conservative.  He needs to convince rank-and-file Republicans that he can win and be a good president. 

Most Republican voters are fearful that the Obama presidency is doing major damage. What they want in a candidate is someone who is sufficiently conservative but who also has the skills to win a competitive race and the fortitude to govern with a reliably firm hand so that the next president can undo the harm the Obama presidency has caused.  Romney’s challenge is to reinforce all of this at the same time.  But he cannot do it with the occasional well-rehearsed speech.  He must be able to perform in front of live audiences and on live television.  He isn’t that good at it, so he needs to be honest with himself and practice. 

In other news, it didn’t take President Obama long to determine that he needed to remove his hand from the hot stove of religion and politics.  At this writing, I don’t know if his “accommodation” to the Catholic Church regarding the mandates and fines placed on them by Obamacare is a capitulation or a head fake.  But we will know after the Sunday talk shows if Obama has cut his losses and how much of this will be a lingering problem. It looks like White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew is being sent out on multiple talk shows this weekend, primarily to talk about the DOA administration budget, but we’ll see how he does trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube regarding the contraceptive debacle.  Watch how he does particularly with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” and when he appears on the same show as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on “Face the Nation.

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.

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