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TheRootDC
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Posted at 04:15 PM ET, 02/08/2012

Mitt Romney and his money try to defeat Santorum and Gingrich

If Mitt Romney was left to run only on his conservative credentials, voters would probably begin to see him as someone in desperate need of a personality and an authentic conservative mantle. In states where Mitt Romney doesn’t spend lots of money, he loses.


Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney arrives for an election night rally in Denver, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. (Chris Carlson - AP)
Rick Santorum’s triple-header win of Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado on Tuesday was a stunner and proof positive conservatives are rejecting Romney as their front runner.

None of the contests awarded delegates. But Santorum’s victories cast doubt again that Romney is the inevitable Republican nominee. In big states like Florida, money and organization helped Romney overcome the fact that many Republicans are put off by his fluctuating record.

Santorum, with four wins under his belt, has vowed to press on. So has Newt Gingrich, who is banking on the southern states to add to his victory in South Carolina. It looks like Romney will have to go after the two men with both barrels of cash loaded. Let’s hope his money lasts longer than his conservatism.

Romney and his Romney PACs bought his Florida win by spending $15.6 million in TV ads compared to the paltry $3.3 million Newt and pro-Newt PACs spent. This left Gingrich unable to defend himself against Romney’s avalanche of negative ads.

(Of course, Newt is also falling short on organization. He failed to make it on to Virginia’s primary ballot, complaining the state’s ballot access was onerous. He also said he would challenge Florida’s winner take all primary results. When you’re running for president, excuses are unacceptable.)

Romney spent big in Florida, as he did in Iowa. Here’s my question: is Romney trying to buy the GOP nomination because he can’t convince voters he can be trusted as a conservative?

Romney’s policies resemble Obama’s.  His 59-page economic plan would cut taxes for the middle class, families earning less than $200,000. In a recent CNN interview Romney unplugged said:

“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling and I’ll continue to take that message across the nation.”

He then added: “You can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich. That’s not my focus. You can focus on the very poor. That’s not focus. My focus is on middle income Americans...We have a very ample safety net...we have food stamps, we have Medicaid , we have housing vouchers, we have programs to help the poor.”

Compare this to Newt’s tax plan, which would move all earners toward a flatter tax like the 15 percent Romney enjoys and Newt’s pledge to move people off of food stamps and into jobs.  Then ask yourself  of the two who sounds more conservative?

Aside from Romney’s economic plan, the real reason Romney has to buy the GOP nomination is Romneycare, the Massachusetts healthcare mandate he signed into law, which he insists isn’t Obamacare. As Santorum said in a lengthy exchange with Romney during a Florida debate, “Romneycare is Obamacare.” Imagine Romney as the GOP nominee in debates with Obama, defending Romneycare in one breath then saying he wants to repeal Obamacare in the next. Tough sell!

Someone tweeted at me recently that if our political reality were different and we had a Republican in the White House today instead of President Obama, we would probably see Mitt Romney on a stage debating Hillary Clinton for the Democrat nomination. We know where Obama and the other Republican candidates stand on the issues but not Romney.

With a record like Romney’s, constantly seesawing from left to right, one understands why Romney is stuck in the middle of Santorum and Gingrich and why money may be his ticket to ride into the GOP nomination.

It’s hard for voters to trust someone like Romney whose positions are like a box of chocolates-- you just don’t know what you’re going to get. In a general election  this will matter, especially in wooing independent voters.

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By Crystal Wright  |  04:15 PM ET, 02/08/2012

Categories:  The Root DC Live

 
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