Quote of the Day: Romney Running Against Himself

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Ben Cohen
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Matt Taibbi looks at the GOP's front runner to face Obama in 2012 and analyzes his options of attack:

Romney’s platform, guaranteed, is going to revolve around the fact thatappears less insane than the field, but if he wins the nomination, he’sgoing to spend the entire general-election campaign running against his own well-established positions on abortion and health care. Romney is one of the first politicians I’ve ever covered who is a fair bet tochange his mind on an issue in the middle of a speech.

I've been trying to think how I would approach formulating a strategy for Mitt Romney should he win the Republican nomination, and I haven't come up with much. The only thing going for Romney is that he sort of looks Presidential (tall, white, reasonably handsome etc), and he doesn't have a particularly strong personality. This means a savvy media firm can shape him into anything they want - at least to a degree where they can sell him to enough of the base and enough of the political center to make it semi competitive. I would probably advise Romney to stick to talking economics - a subject the US population is virtually clueless about and can be shamelessly lied to without much fear of repercussion. Romney does have a track record as a successful business man, and in American politics, this is a pretty useful credential. He can rant about free markets and deregulation and rack up points with half the country who still haven't figured out that right wing economics have essentially gutted the middle class and plunged much of the country into third world poverty. It's a sad truth, and the Democrats must prepare themselves for it.

I would expect to see lots of footage of Romney in flak jackets and carrying hunting rifles to appear in the coming months, and a huge effort by his team to avoid talk of topics like health care and women's reproductive rights. His PR people will attempt to paint him as a true patriot and a savvy business man while making sure he doesn't actually say anything substantive. If he does, Obama will run circles around him as Romney's record is so full of contradictions, he makes Newt Gingrich seem consistent.

Romney, as Taibbi points out, is probably the least crazy candidate in the current field, and that makes him a good betting favorite. While crazy can rally the base, general elections are about the center, and those who flip between Democrat and Republican are usually interested in candidates who won't rock the boat too much. While Romney has about as much charisma as a stuffed animal, he does seem vaguely serious - a huge advantage over his rival Republicans who probably couldn't name the capital of France, let alone debate Barack Obama.