The first GOP primary was a bit like musical chairs, except when the music stopped, there were still the same number of chairs and the same number of candidates.
No one wants to leave, though surely the gig is up.
Mitt Romney’s still sitting up-front with the others slightly re-arranged though still sitting. That upstart Santorum? There was no Iowa mo’ in the Granite State for Santorum. He’s back in the pack where he belongs with the guy who makes him look good, the grumpy grey Newt Gingrich. Meanwhile, Mr. Dangerous, Ron Paul, emerges from the fringe in second, and Jon Huntsman, the tactical Mormon, debuts in third, happily chiming “Ticket to Ride.” It’s the Beatles, but he’s still beaten, just ahead of the last-placed Rick Perry, who still doesn’t get it. Someone please tell him there’s no Bush magic left to rub off on him.
They all must just be hanging around long enough to gain enough fame to earn them the Cain/Palin/Huckabee payoff. You know, the book deal/reality show/”Dancing with the Stars” spot. President? How about being the next Chaz Bono? By now, barring the emergence of a Romney love-child, the hangers-on must know they aren’t going to win the GOP nomination in 2012.
Certainly, Gingrich knows he’s alienating everyone on the Right as his campaign has resorted to unleashing his “inner Democrat.” For all his vicious attacks on Romney for his activities as head of a big investment firm, Gingrich could get elected chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Bain Capital will continue to be, pun intended, the bane of Romney.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that of 77 businesses that Bain invested in while Romney was in charge from 1984-1999, 22 percent filed for bankruptcy or were out of business by the eighth year.
So does that make Romney the guy you want to rebuild a flagging America? Gingrich was on NBC’s Today show saying, “If someone comes in, takes all the money out of your company and then leaves you bankrupt while they go off with millions, that’s not traditional capitalism.”
Of course not, that’s traditional greed. When he attacks Republicans, Gingrich almost sounds likeable.
Meanwhile, Romney didn’t help to deflect being tagged a “sado-capitalist” when he said earlier this week how he liked to “fire people.”
This morning, Romney further reinforced his hard-ass capitalistic vision when interviewed by Matt Lauer, on NBC’s Today show:Lauer: Do you suggest that anyone who questions the policies and practices of Wall Street and financial institutions, anyone who has questions of the distributions of wealth and power in this country is envious, is it about jealousy or is it about fairness.
Romney: I think it’s about envy.
So it’s just envy. It’s not about laws and regulations, or lack thereof. That’s some man of the people. Romney seems happy to be president of the 1 percent.
Bain will likely be in play in the next stop, South Carolina, where unemployment is near 10 percent and hasn’t been below 9 in three years. Rick Perry is already in the state saying Romney’s company was like a vulture that eats companies.
But come on, it’s South Carolina. In this state the rebel flag-waving born-agains define the hot-buttons, and social issues should come into play.
It’s also where Nikki Randhawa Haley, the 39-year-old Sikh American governor of the state has thrown her support to Romney.
This may be the kiss of death for Romney. Or for Haley.
Haley’s approval rating among registered voters in her state dropped to 35 percent last month. That’s 4 points below her age. (39. Yes, she’s the youngest governor in the U.S., beating out that other Asian American Republican governor Bobby Piyush Jindal.) Thirty-five percent approval rating? That’s George W. Bush level. To top that off, her biggest supporters were Tea Party folks who find Romney a bit tepid on big C conservative issues.
Romney did win the Tea Party vote in New Hampshire. But the tea is different down south, where the evangelicals define all facets of the GOP. And Romney hasn’t exactly been their cup of tea.
So let’s see how much face time Haley gets with Romney and vice versa in the coming week.
The face time that counts may be with the likes of Bob Jones III, the political animal of the family for which Bob Jones University, that great institution of higher learning, is named.
In 2008, Bob Jones III backed Romney when the lion’s share of the evangelical vote went to Huckabee and McCain.
If Romney can win over these voters, the primary music should end and he’s the one man sitting.
But I’m not envious. The also-rans’ egos are too big to cry uncle, so the battle will continue at least until April. Romney may emerge the standard bearer, but he surely will be a bloodied nominee.