Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tacking To The Right

Mitt Romney has become the latest Republican to enter the race to be president in 2008. After all the disparaging comments last time about the Democrats putting up someone from Massachusetts, the idea of the Republicans selecting a politician who used to run the most liberal state in the union seems more than a bit far fetched. But Romney has been governor there, quite an achievement in itself.

Although way behind McCain and Giuliani in the polls, this guy is still a genuine contender. He's proved he can get moderates to vote for him. His lack of Washington experience allows him to run the 'outsider' campaign that's been copied by every governor-bidding-to-be-president since it worked for Jimmy Carter. And his deft saving of the 2002 Winter Olympics after it had been almost derailed by a bribery scandal shows he is good at running things.

But, and there are always buts, his big problem is likely to be how he's shamelessly tacked to the right on social issues in a bid to present himself as more conservative than his two main rivals. When running for office in Massachusetts, Romney backed abortion and gay rights, now he doesn't. Another issue is that he's a Mormon. While that means he's got Utah in the bag, nobody really knows how other voters will react to his faith. Then there's the fact hardly anyone has heard of him.

However, Romney's shown he's very good at fundraising. If he can build up enough money to stay in the race, it's just about possible to see him overcome all these issues and take the Republican nomination. The field's starting to get pretty crowded.

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