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Mitt Romney: Really the only GOP candidate who can beat Obama?

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney's latest endorsements come from the likes of former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, who told Fox News that the presidential contender was "conservative enough for me," and Kris Kobach, an anti-immigration activist with questionable tactics.

Romney came out of the gate looking like the clear bet to win the Republican nomination and run against President Obama in the general election. His victories in Iowa and New Hampshire certainly make it appear that Romney's got this in the bag. Here is Washington columnist Doyle McManus on Romney's electability:

"Electability" can be a self-sustaining chemical reaction. Now that Romney has finished first in both Iowa (by an eyelash) and New Hampshire -- a feat no non-incumbent Republican had ever accomplished -- his aura of inevitability has grown. If he wins in South Carolina on Jan. 21, the race for the GOP nomination will be over -- and there won't even be much shouting.

But not so fast, writes Ari Fleischer on CNN. Newt Gingrich is still a problem from Romney

Republicans like Romney. They think he's qualified. But they don't love Romney and many worry about his core convictions.

That's why this race will come down to Newt's personal decision. Will he yield after South Carolina, recognizing the GOP needs to unite, or will he keep going, out of sheer determination and knowing Romney's weaknesses?

If he keeps going, it's going to be a long slog, with many Republicans viewing him as a spoiler intent on damaging the party's likely nominee. Many other Republicans, though, will look forward to casting an anti-Romney vote that can make a difference. Most won't be voting for Newt; they'll be voting against Romney.

And, of course, there's the issue of Bain Capital, which Gingrich's "super PAC," Winning Our Future, has driven home with "When Mitt Romney Came to Town." Here’s the short version for your viewing displeasure.

 

"This attack admovie destroys Romney’s argument for why he should be elected president. It does so by showing us the faces of the real people who were laid off as a result of Mitt Romney's company Bain Capital, buying their companies, restructuring them, firing their workers and closing their plants. Romney made millions off of these deals,” writes Zerlina Maxwell of Feministing. “Showing how Romney destroyed so many lives is an effective way to cast him for what he is -- a face of Wall Street greed."

The New Republic's William Galston agrees that Bain presents an obstacle for Romney. He writes: "Bain matters because it goes to the heart of the core case Romney is making: The economy is broken, Obama doesn't know how to fix it, and I do. If his rivals can undermine his record as a job-creator and substitute the narrative of Romney as a 'vulture capitalist' who makes money by looting firms and firing workers, his path to the presidency becomes a lot steeper."

Still, argues the Washington Post's Dan Balz, Romney's the candidate who has the best shot of beating Obama. And that's why Republican voters will continue to back him, he argues.

Democrats and Republicans have agreed privately that Romney would be less scary to independent voters than a GOP nominee who is further to the right ideologically. Scott Howell, a Republican strategist, said, "Romney will appeal to a broader electorate, and that's a huge problem for Obama."

RELATED:

How to predict a president

Romney's 'electability' is key

Romney's authenticity problem

Romney's 'firing' riff is more revealing than it seems

After New Hampshire, Romney retains his most precious asset

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks to the media Thursday in Greer, S.C.  Credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

 

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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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