The Washington Post

Mitt Romney: Do you remember the Hillary campaign?

Mitt Romney may be morphing into Clinton. Not Bill, the daring and talented campaigner, but Hillary, the plodding, ultra-careful and ultimately losing presidential candidate.

The Post reports today that Romney is methodically working the money trail. “The presumed Republican front-runner, who took a pass on the first party debate last Thursday, has spent his early weeks as an exploratory candidate soliciting pledges in hopes of amassing a war chest that would put him far ahead of his competitors, according to donors, advisers and others close to Romney’s team.”

Money is important, and Romney’s fundraising prowess, like Hillary’s, is unmistakable, but it’s no guarantee of victory. Moreover, it seems to perpetuate his image of inaccessibility and cautiousness about public appearances.

Like Hillary in 2008, Romney is running on experience:

The contributions fit with an emerging strategy by the Romney campaign to focus its message on the candidate’s long business career, including his roles as co-founder of Bain Capital, one of the nation’s largest private-equity firms, and as head of the profitable 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. In announcing his exploratory committee last month, Romney said that “President Obama’s policies have failed” because of a lack of business experience.

But what if Republican voters in 2012, like Democrats in 2008, care more about the future than the past; what if they want new and not the next in line? Is a corporate candidate going to wow the populist Tea Partyers? That remains to be seen.

And, of course, he still has some explaining to do about RomneyCare. He’ll give a speech tomorrow trying to defuse that issue. But it’s not simply one topic. It is, as abortion was in 2008, a symptom of a larger question about Romney: Does he have core political beliefs? Republicans have no doubt that Mitch Daniels is a penny-pincher and Newt Gingrich is a passionate defender of American exceptionalism and a robust foreign policy. But the passion that Republican voters are looking for is not a defining feature of Romney’s political persona. The very qualities that make him attractive to Wall Street financial types may not resonate in the heartland.

Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney are the ultimate “A” students — prepared, diligent and eager to please. But if it’s true that “C” students hire “A” students it may be that Romney (as Hillary did) is more likely to show up in a Republican Cabinet than in the White House.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.

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