Despite the worried grumblings of some dissatisied Republican primary voters, Mitt Romney's chances of winning the general election this November should give GOPers plenty of optimism. It is, after all, hard to imagine a better scenario to take on an incumbent president. The economy is lagging, unemployment is high, the president's approval numbers are low and the deficit and our national debt is astronomical. The only concern the party faithful should now have in its presumptive nominee is his proven ability to agitate the left and their allies in the media with his occassional offhanded and completely unconscious references to his wealth. This election should be an easy win. However, a victory in November will require a great deal of discipline on the part of Governor Romney and his campaign.
The message this election cycle is simple, and it's borrowed from the left's very own Ragin' Cajun, James Carville: "It's the economy, stupid". Of course, it is. And with little hope that President Obama and his henchmen in the Democrat led Senate will do anything to improve the economy, there can be found little reason for Mr. Romney to talk about much of anything else.
Do not expect that to deter the talking heads from the other side of the aisle or their cheerleaders on the network evening news. Since the beginning of the primary season viewers have been subjected to stories on Mitt Romney's travel habits with his pets, his friends in Nascar, his work as a successful businessman, a mass murder committed 150 years ago and, most recently, his wife's hobby of riding horses. The media found the expenses incurred by that last bit to be newsworthy. Go figure. These, of course, are distractions meant to knock the governor off message. If they succeed, the president will ride the wave of these meaningless stories into a second term.
But that depends on the good governor, who, thus far has managed a campaign focused squarely on the economy and job creation. But one issue has resurfaced that may cause Romney to stumble. When the gaffe prone Vice President forced President Obama to admit he supports gay marriage, a contentios and contemporary issue was resurrected in the American electoral consciousness. Mr. Romney was thus forced to restate his position on gay marriage; a position growing less and less popular as the months and years roll by. And, as required, he restated his position and left it at that.
Wrong answer, Mr. Romney. Nevermind the conservative principles underlying anyone's support of gay marriage. The correct answer to that question was, "I still support marriage between one man and one woman. But the fact is gay people are living in this economy too. Gay people are standing in unemployment lines right next to straight people. I want to put all Americans back to work. That is my focus as president." Instead of making his economic message resonate with gay and lesbian Americans, Mr. Romney allowed himself to be dragged into a hotly debated social issue. While he cannot afford to not comment on the president's "evolution" on the issue, he also cannot afford to allow himself to be blown off message because of the Vice President's big mouth.
You're doing fine, Mitt. Just stay the course.