A couple of months ago I mentioned in this space I thought Mr. Romney would secure the nomination in the Texas GOP primary. Today, May 29, 2012, barring an upset of Old Testament proportions (think David v. Goliath), Mr. Romney will secure the nominaton in the Texas GOP primary.
At the time we envisioned this triumph, Mr. Romney was under siege by a triumphant Rick Santorum. Mr. Santorum's departure from the race because of his child's illness is both understandable and regrettable. Mr. Gingrich was a minor factor at the time but his self destructive tendencies are too well known to be surprising.
So, Mr. Romney is inevitable. Now, the GOP has to decide how to run him against Mr. Obama. It will not do to run away from Romney care, from his Mormonism or from his career as a successful capitalist. To run away from those factors would mark him as a bit artificial. This will be the campaign run against him by the Obama forces, anyway, and he must not work for them.
So, what can Mr. Romney do? He can point out that various presidential administrations have tried to do what he successfully did in Massachusetts as governor. Historical fact tells us Harry Truman thought he had universal health care worked out in the early 1950's but Robert Taft would not let him push it through the Congress. Historical fact demonstrates Richard Nixon thought he had universal health care worked out in the 1970's, only to have Tip O'Neil stop him. If one goes back as far as Teddy Roosevelt, universal health coverage was a key plank for the Progressives (aka BullMoose party) but personal animus against Roosevelt sealed the deal against health coverage.
Mr. Romney might also point out how American it is to take care of Americans. The Indiana governor who made the GOP response to the 2012 State of the Union address did this very thing and, in so doing, turned the world upside down. He praised Franklin Roosevelt and lauded many New Deal programs, while suggesting they exclude the very rich and leaving the door open for privatization, of course.
In the matter of his religion, Mr. Romney must not try to have it both ways. He is a Mormon from a long line of Mormons. When he refers to his Mormon background, Mr. Romney often seems to be saying, "I am a Mormon but I am not a very good Mormon."
Baptist voters can certainly relate to people who are baptists but not very good ones. I suppose most religious groups can understand people who inherit a religion and hold to it, but barely. Mr. Romney will carry the Western states where Mormonism is heaviest. He need not worry about those states. He will have to convince evangelical Christians, whose rolls Mormons have tried to pillage for decades, that he is a good person, but a bad Mormon.
He might just as well stump for freedom of religion. He can try to do what John Kennedy did in Houston during the 1960 election. Mr. Kennedy went before a hostile ministerial group and thoroughy charmed them with his personality, while assuring them he would not obey the Pope, if the Pope ever tried to interfere in American politics.
I do not think Mr. Romney will suddenly overwhelm the Right with his effervescent personality. He will have to work on religion from some other directon. He would not do well to mention Mr. Obama's volatile Chicago pastor, the ineffable Jeremiah Wright.
Mr. Romney might choose a running mate who could reassure the Evangelical center of Republican politics. The Undecideds may not rally to Mr. Romney. In fact, they may just stay home.
If he survives the Romney-care debate and the Religious issue, Mr. Romney will still have to overcome his mega-millions and how he made them. In so doing, Mr. Romney may just appeal to the American dream, wherein we all think we can work hard, be smart and finally overcome. He might point out Mr. Obama is a millionaire as well, and call into question how he got all that money.
There is a way to win in a race that is still too close to call.
Although I still see Mr. Obama winning in November.
Opinions expressed here are mine alone.