It isn’t a secret that I’m a Newt guy. It isn’t a secret that I’ve criticized Mitt. After reading this article, I have to respond. Here’s what Mitt said that started things:
Drawing a strategic contrast with the man now besting him in the polls, Mitt Romney took steps to define himself as the consummate Washington outsider with an unblemished record as a family man.
“I don’t have a political career,” Romney told the Republican Jewish Coalition on Wednesday, calling himself a private-sector creature and the opposite of a Washington insider.
Technically speaking, Mitt isn’t a career politician. That’s because he’s lost too many times to be a career politician. In 1994, Mitt lost because he couldn’t get far enough to the left of Ted Kennedy.
In 2002, he won election as Massachusetts governor. When he announced that he wasn’t running for re-election, he started running for president. He’s still running for president. When Mitt lost in 2008, it was because he couldn’t get to the right of Sen. McCain.
When he lost the 2008 race, it was clear that a) GOP activists didn’t warm to him and b) GOP activists weren’t likely to warm to him anytime soon. People simply don’t trust him, partially because he’s still defending the individual mandate and Romneycare during debates while insisting that Obamacare is wrong for the nation.
Calling himself a man of the private sector is a major stretch.
The issue isn’t black and white for Romney, who served as the governor of Massachusetts, ran for president in 2008 and has been campaigning for the 2012 nomination almost from the day President Obama was inaugurated.
But embracing an anti-Washington, individualist persona affords Romney an opportunity to differentiate himself from Gingrich, who served in Congress from 1979 to 1999 and, as a former House Speaker, is widely considered a GOP establishment figure.
Embracing “an anti-Washington, individualist persona” doesn’t afford Mitt the opportunity “to differentiate himself from Gingrich”. Portraying himself as a pure-as-the-driven-snow-DC-outsider will cause him to be the object of ridicule with GOP activists. At this point, Mitt’s target audience must be GOP activists in Iowa and New Hampshire.
These aren’t wet-behind-the-ears novices. They’re people who pay attention to politics. GOP activists know that Mitt’s been running for office a long time. They know that it’s been a decade since he’s worked in the private sector.
Prior to Mitt running for governor, he was hired to run the Olympic Games in February, 1999. He hasn’t been in the private sector since. After running the Winter Games, he ran for governor in Massachusetts and getting elected. After Mitt announced that he wasn’t seeking a second term in 2006, he essentially started running for president. Now it’s late 2011 and Mitt’s still running for president.
In short, he hasn’t worked in the private sector in almost 13 years.
It has become increasingly urgent for Romney to take advantage of lingering animosity toward Gingrich and present himself as the fresh-faced alternative for voters who see Gingrich as part of the problem with a gridlocked Washington.
Mitt the CEO is on full display again. He isn’t a Washington outsider but that’s what he thinks people are looking for so he’s repackaging himself yet again to win favor with voters. Mitt apparently hasn’t figured out that his multiple repackagings are why people don’t trust him.
That, more than anything else, is why he didn’t connect with GOP activists in 2008 and why he’s failing this time, too.
If Mitt doesn’t win this time, it’ll be because people have decided that they can’t trust him or predict who he’ll be a year from now.