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Analysis: Romney's In - Why Are We not Surprised?

Mitt Romney does not inspire excitement but he can financially persevere in the grueling primary season.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 6/2/2011, 10:04 PM / Last Update: 6/3/2011, 1:20 AM

When former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney announced his candidacy for the presidency Thursday, it was an anti-climax that appeared to elicit the comeback "why are we not surprised." Since Romney made it patently clear since Obama's election in November 2008 he was running again in 2012, any time would have been an anti-climax.

Mitt Romney brings to the primary race two major advantages: He is somebody and he is a somebody with money. These two advantages complement each other.  Romney will win a war of attrition; he will lose in a lightning war.

When we say a "somebody", this goes back to the famous quip by the late Mayor Richard Daley, who presided over the mighty Chicago machine during the 1960s: "You can't beat somebody with nobody."

Romney is a known entity. True, he is an entity with baggage, but unless an alternative candidate emerges and quickly, Romney could emulate Richard Nixon in 1968. The Nixon campaign had deep pockets and he did not face serious challenges on the Republican side.

In 2008m Republican aspirants like Rudy Giuliani faced money problems and had to forgo or downsize their campaign efforts in certain states. They staked their hopes on a major breakthrough victory to attract donors and if it did not materialize they were out.

Romney has enough money to stay the course and be a presence in all states holding primaries. Since primaries do not allot delegates on a winner-take-all basis, this means that Romney can steadily pile up delegates. Unless one of his rivals catches fire early on, this grind it out on the ground policy could win for Romney.

A  Romney candidacy has its problems. The flipside of name recognition is staleness; if you are a familiar face, you are not a fresh face. Romney's problems in this score were illustrated when today, a day he should have been the focus of Republican attention, Sarah Palin's foray into Massachusetts and New Hampshire upstaged him.

Romney pushed all the right buttons in his announcement Thursday. He criticized Barack Obama for failing America. He criticized Obama for looking to Europe for inspiration while discounting American values.

Romney may be the standard bearer, because that is the phrase usually applied to a party's chosen presidential candidate, but Romney is not the standard bearer personified by a dashing knight who is going to slay the dragon in the White House.When Representative Paul Ryan took on Obama at a meeting between the President and Republicans over the budgets, he came out looking like a standard bearer.

Romney is saying that America voted Obama for excitement in 2008 and paid the price for this flirtation.The time has come to take a reliable manager. If the economic situation continues to worsen, Romney may be able to make this point, but then Americans will be voting for him with their head and not with their hearts.

In 2008 the ideological wing of the Republican Party came out in force in the primaries, jettisoned many old familiar faces and nominated candidates who reflected their ideological profile. This may well work to Romney's detriment. He is unpopular with the ideological core of the GOP, primarily because of his health care package as governor of Massachusetts.

The evangelical wing of the Republican Party also tends to look upon Mormonism, Romney's religious affiliation, as an outsider sect which hurts Romney as well.

As opposed to state elections where the ideological base could rally around a single candidate, Romney could benefit from the Balkanization of the Republican presidential field. If the doubters and opponents don't coalesce around a single candidate, Romney may win the nomination.