Mitt Romney has won Florida. Yet, he has not locked in the party nomination, partly because of his own sound bites.
Florida was a particularly crucial achievement for Romney, who limped out of the South Carolina primary with a decisive loss. Furthermore, his recent defeat was magnified by the revelation that he had actually lost the Iowa caucus. The January 31 primary in Florida struck a much-needed high note in the Romney campaign. With any other candidate, that victory could have meant the demise of his most menacing opponent, Newt Gingrich.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you’re a Gingrich supporter), Romney turned his moment of pure triumph into an epic faux pas. Fresh from the field of victory, Romney told reporters that his “concern was not for poor people.” Perhaps voters need a moment to process that remark, even if it was taken out of context .
In a country facing record unemployment, Romney has shown disdain for those enduring economic hardship, or so his critics claim. In a political party that eschews elitism, in an ironic twist on the Barrack Obama campaign of four years ago, Romney’s critics also claim Romney sounds as detached as a liberal Harvard professor. In a party that esteems the ethics of capitalism, Romney’s out-of-context sound bites also fit the stereotype of a villainous robber baron.
Romney’s comment has, and will continue to be, repeated in endless loops on cable TV. If you listen closely, you can hear President Obama chuckling with glee as his campaign prepares to make Mitt’s mistake into a political advertisement.
It is precisely that type of comment that will make it a long, arduous road to the Republican Nomination Convention for Mitt Romney. The hurdles before Romney look especially high when you consider Newt Gingrich, his zany but determined opponent for the party nomination.
In order to run against President Obama, Romney first has to accumulate enough delegates. There are 1,144 votes needed for one nominee to clinch the nomination. Romney has secured less than 10% of that magic number. Romney has a lot of campaigning to do, especially in winner-takes-all states like Florida, where the triumphant candidate takes all of the delegate votes.
Romney’s problems are compounded by the destabilizing influence of the Tea Party in the Republican party. However, Romney still has the best chance of facing President Obama in November. A recent endorsement from Donald Trump might further help him, but his best attribute is less flashy than a Trump stamp of approval.
Romney may brand himself as a true conservative, but his moderate record may actually be giving him the edge over his competitors in an changing America.