Romney’s the one (to beat)

Continetti is guest-blogging for The Post.

Every day brings further confirmation that Mitt Romney is the front-runner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. He leads nationally, is massively ahead in New Hampshire and is barely ahead in Iowa, where few expect him to compete seriously. He’ll lead the money race when second-quarter reports are released in July. And his performance at the recent WMUR-CNN-Union Leader debate at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire was impressive.

Another advantage for Romney is that Republicans tend to pick nominees who’ve run national campaigns before. This may help explain why Romney looks solid, even though the one-term Massachusetts governor retains all of the liabilities from his 2008 campaign — skepticism from his party over his positions on social issues, general suspicion of his religious tradition, a cloud of phoniness that trails him — plus Obamneycare. Despite all these faults, Romney’s been through a high-stakes campaign before. And he’d definitely be a better president than President Obama.

There’s no question that Romney would like to run the John McCain campaign from 2008: the establishment front-runner who wins the nomination because his opponents split the conservative vote. Romney’s helped by the fact that he’s nowhere near as loathed among professional conservatives as John McCain was (and is). But what happens if the right unifies around one of Romney’s opponents? Then his front-runner status will look awfully precarious.

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