Mitt Romney: Not a sure bet [The conversation]
Mitt Romney may have only squeaked by with a win in Iowa on Tuesday, but he's poised for a landslide in the New Hampshire Republican primary on Jan. 10. But the GOP candidate isn't necessarily a sure bet as the eventual nominee to go against President Obama. For everything we do know about Romney -- including Think Progress' 99 facts -- there remains the issue that we may never truly know Romney. Below, Opinionators from around the Web explain.
Mitt Romney, GOP puppet
A President Romney would have little leeway to push a GOP Congress to the center, and he has pledged himself to fulfill the agenda that the Party has already determined. Former Bush administration Minister of Propaganda Pete Wehner echoes, "This year, it seems to me, the party is the sun and the candidates are the planets ... They are trying to prove to primary voters that they are reliable and trustworthy when it comes to the basic platform of the GOP." It is surely clear that Romney's apparent victory was obtained by erasing every last vestige of his old and (I believe, though I can't be sure) authentic self. At this moment hardly anybody believes that his conversion was actually authentic. The support for him, such as it is, is simply a combination of disqualifying rivals and the assumption that the Party will continue to own him in office.
The upshot of Mitt vs. Mitt
[On Mitt Romney] Jay Leno offered: "Well, the presidential race is getting interesting. In an effort to clear up his reputation as a flip-flopper, Mitt Romney will give a speech on health care. And then, right afterward, he'll give a five-minute rebuttal." […]
[I]n the coming months, the most interesting political battle may be between Romney and Romney. Now, do we really want a chameleon as a nominee for president? That's a legitimate question. But I'd much rather have a cynical chameleon than a far-right ideologue who doesn't require contortions to appeal to Republican primary voters, who says things that Republican candidates have all been saying and, God forbid, actually means it.
President Romney, American nightmare
I understand the impulse behind Kristof's musings, but even if Mitt Romney is a chameleon, the fact remains that he is fueling and encouraging the political right by pandering to them. That alone speaks negatively about his character. Moreover, it is a perfect illustration of what Romney would likely be as president: an empty vessel who allowed Congress to drive his agenda. […]
Perhaps with a progressive majority in Congress, a President Romney wouldn't be a disaster. But with a Republican majority -- even in just one chamber -- Romney would be an absolute nightmare. Anyone who wants a sensible approach to governance needs to realize that there really is no acceptable Republican presidential candidate, chameleon or otherwise. And as important as it is to reelect President Obama, it's also critical that we return Congress to Democratic control.
The Mitt Romney mystery
So would Mitt Romney govern as he did in Massachusetts, or as his more recent rhetoric suggests? I'm confident that he really couldn't get away with reversing himself and embracing an individual mandate at the national level, since that has been such a sticking point during the campaign. On the whole, however, I don't think we know with anything like the certainty Packer suggests how Romney would govern.
Mitt Romney, not a sure thing
[Ron] Paul may have disappointed supporters with his third-place finish Tuesday, but he more than doubled his vote over 2008, while Romney stood still. If the last four years have taught us anything, it's that politics is even weirder -- and more unpredictable -- than it looks.
--Alexandra Le Tellier
Photo: Mitt Romney speaks in Salem, N.H. Credit: Matt Rourke / Associated Press