Monday, January 14, 2008

Romney should buck conventional wisdom and fight on

Pundits have said that Romney is on his last legs. "If he loses Iowa and New Hampshire he is done." I was part of that group, but now I am convinced that is exactly the wrong advise. Under the radar, Romney quietly won Wyoming going away. Most candidates simply didn't have the money to campaign there and weren't all that interested in their small delegate count (12). Romney went in and took 8/12. Add in the fact that romney has had two disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire and now Romney has 19 delegates out of the 61 decided delegates, second only to Huckabee's 31 on the republican side. McCain has 7, Thompson 3, and Paul and Guiliani have none.

Romney has apparently taken this quite hard as he spent a ton of money trying to convince Iowa he was a freshly converted true conservative. I think that ended up hurting him in the more liberal Northeast, where voters really knew his history and he seemed especially disingenuous.

But Wyoming... Romney stepped in and media blitzed them to victory. They met him and then it was time to vote. No time for second thoughts. No time to meet the other candidates. And no other candidate had the money to advertise against him.

Why is that relevant? It is relevant because that is going to be the exact dynamic of Superduper tuesday. No candidate besides Romney on the republican side can affort to advertise in all 22 (or whatever states). His cheif rivals, Huckabee and McCain are financial peasants. Guiliani has had no positive momementum for the last 45 days and in politics as in sports you can't turn it on. His opponents will be focusing on the large states. Romney could easily win all of the smaller states with media blitzes and stay with the pack in the large states.

In the last few days Romney quietly pulled the plug on his future campaign spending. He clearly is feeling very rejected. He spent more time and money in Iowa than anyone and they tossed him away for a sexier suitor. He lost in his own back yard where people really knew him. It must feel like he was betrayed by family. And now it looks like he may lose the state in which he was born and where his dad served. This must be crushing to him.

That said, He really needs to rethink giving up, even if he comes in second in Michigan. If I were advising him, I'd try to get the vote out, but I would change the message being spread in Michigan to be one that states a firm belief that he will win. He should back that message with delegate numbers. He should state that in his post primary speech. He should say a win would have been ideal, but the goal was to get alone into second place at this point leading into SUper Duper Tuesday where our message will resonate with a national audience.

Consider what happens if he loses a close battle with McCain. If he loses a close battle to McCain say 27 to 29% with Huckabee getting 14%. I would think McCain would get 9 delegates, Romney 8, and Huckabee 4. That would give Huckabee 35, Romney 27, McCain 16 delegates. That is in GREAT shape considering his financial advantages and the compressed timeframe for super duper tuesday.

When you think about it is shows what an acceptable candidate he is to finish no lower than 2nd in any of the primaries. That should be part of the message. Romney is no Hillary Clintonesque lightning rod. His finishes strongly suggest the Mormon thing is not a campaign killer.

I think Romney and his advisors have wrongly evalutaed him as a candidate. By rejecting everything he stood for in the past, he actually does worse as people get to know him (which I am sure is not how he would like to think of himself.) In this compressed election, with these opponents, he is the kind of candidate who can steal victory.

I think he can start softening the social aspects of his platforms and focusing on the financial message and he will have a ton of growth potential.

But he has to stay in the race. He has to spead the delegate numbers message tomorrow and he has to start advertising in all of the smaller super tuesday states in the next week.

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