Mitt Romney’s unsurprising announcement that he is forming a presidential exploratory committee, if a sign of things to come, suggests that Romney’s problems aren’t limited to his authorship of a state health-care plan based on an individual mandate.
As Jonathan Capehart put it, “he made this exciting announcement in one of the most boring videos I’ve ever seen.” But I don’t think it’s the tele-prompter or the transparent attempt to loosen him up (no tie!). Instead, I think his problem is that he’s got nothing to say, and he can’t say what he thinks is his greatest achievement.
If you look back to Romney’s 2008 convention speech in support of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) or his CPAC speech this year or listen to what he is offering now, you’ll see it is the most bland rendition of basic conservative mantras. It is as if he worked out of a book “Top 20 conservative platitudes.” Consider this line: “President Obama’s policies have failed.” Then there are these yawners: “America’s best days are still ahead” and “It’s time we put America back on a course of greatness.” There is really nothing interesting about what he is saying. Plainly, he’s going to focus on job creation, but so are the other candidates. Is he offering anything new or innovative? You sure can’t tell from this.
But of course Romney’s most innovative accomplishment is reviled by conservatives. He’s not found a way to explain his embrace of mandates or satisfy conservatives that he’s not “Obama-lite” when it comes to using government as the traffic cop in restructuring Americans’ health care. So it’s not surprising he doesn’t mention it in his video.
Romney was criticized as being robotic or plastic in 2008. But taking off a tie or reminding us that unemployment is high in Nevada isn’t going to solve the sense that, to put it bluntly, he’s not in the same league as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). If there is nothing personally engaging or substantively creative about his campaign, why should Republicans vote for him? He’ll have to make his case in the months ahead.