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Romney Beginning to Look Like GOP Front-Runner
Deseret News ^ | 5/27/07 | Steven Thomma

Posted on 05/30/2007 7:19:37 AM PDT by Reaganesque

WASHINGTON — Just a few weeks ago, advisers to Mitt Romney spoke about a steady, gradual climb from obscurity to the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Mitt Romney, speaking in Lakeland, Fla., Thursday, appears to have momentum on his side among GOP presidential contenders.

Now, Romney has rocketed from behind and is leading the race or is neck and neck for the lead in the pivotal states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

The road to next January's voting still is marked by numerous potholes, including persistent charges that he's a flip-flopper without conviction, a Mormon faith still unfamiliar and perhaps suspect to some voters as well as potential new competition from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Sen. Fred Thompson.

Also, his rapid rise may say as much about the fickleness of Republicans this early in the campaign as it does about the former Massachusetts governor.

But for now at least, Romney enters the summer astride the top tier and within reach of being able to claim that he's the front-runner for the nomination.

"He clearly has the three M's: media, money and momentum," independent pollster John Zogby said.

Romney led the field in fund raising in the first three months of this year. Yet until now, he trailed in popularity well behind Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain in most polls, either nationally or in early voting states such as Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina.

However, a poll in Iowa by The Des Moines Register last week found Romney leaping ahead with the support of 30 percent of likely attendees at January's precinct caucuses, well ahead of McCain's 18 percent and Giuliani's 17 percent.

In another new Iowa survey by the Republican public relations firm Strategic Vision, Romney led with 20 percent, up sharply from 8 percent the month before. He was followed by Giuliani with 18 percent and McCain with 16 percent. (A third poll showed McCain with 18 percent, Giuliani with 17 percent and Romney with 16 percent.)

Romney surged in New Hampshire as well. A new Zogby poll there found he had the support of 35 percent of likely primary voters, up from 25 percent the month before. That was well ahead of Giuliani and McCain, each with 19 percent.

Analysts and insiders pointed to three reasons for the Romney rise:

• Good reviews from party members and pundits for his performance in the party's first debate, May 3 in California.

• Unusually early television advertising in Iowa and New Hampshire. Romney has been advertising there for weeks, boasting about his record as a business executive and governor. A new ad Thursday bragged that he cut spending and taxes as governor and "enforced immigration laws, stood up for traditional marriage and the sanctity of human life."

• His rivals are in trouble with the party's conservative base. Giuliani's support for abortion rights was highlighted in the first two debates, a problem in a party that still opposes abortion rights. McCain stood with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., on an immigration bill widely reviled by conservatives as amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Romney's criticism of the immigration proposal — which is similar to one he supported a year ago — drew a sharp rebuke from McCain.

That, conservative strategist Greg Mueller said, was a mistake that helped elevate Romney as THE conservative critic of the unpopular proposal among the presidential candidates. "The McCain attack is the best thing that's happened to Romney since the day he got in," Mueller said.

He still faces formidable obstacles.

Foremost is the charge that he's a campaign convert to conservatism after running as a more moderate or liberal candidate in Massachusetts. Notably, he supported abortion rights when he ran for the Senate against Kennedy in 1994 and now opposes them.

"That could be his Achilles' heel," said David Johnson of Strategic Vision, which found in its new poll that Romney loses 4 percentage points of his support when voters are reminded that he supported abortion rights and gay rights in the 1990s.

"That's the one reluctance about Mitt Romney among conservatives," Johnson said. "They don't know if he's a true conservative."

The other potential challenge is his Mormon faith. In Iowa, the recent Register poll found that 1 out of 5 Republicans said they were less likely to vote for Romney because of his faith. But Mueller suggested that social conservatives eventually would care more about what Romney would do in the Oval Office than what he would do in church.

"Is there an undercurrent out there nervous about the Mormon thing? Sure. But they really want to know where he stands on the issues they care about," Mueller said.

Romney's campaign aides say he can answer the flip-flop questions by pointing to his record as governor.

"The only position he's ever changed is on life, and he changed in the right direction," Romney's campaign spokesman Kevin Madden said. "It was a matter of him recognizing he was wrong in the past and now he's right on the issue."

Madden also said that Romney's faith faded as an issue when people met the candidate and realized that he "shares the same hopes and aspirations that Americans of many faiths do."

In the end, those close to Romney tamp down any talk of his being the front-runner, perhaps fearful of raising expectations too high and setting him up for a fall if and when the polls in those early states change again.

"It's still fluid. I expect they will change," Madden said.

But he said the key to Romney's success of recent weeks and his hopes for the coming months were the same: that people get to know him and his record — and that they like him.

TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: polls; romney
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To: Radix

NO GOP candidate will be competitive in NY. Not even Rudy, Hillary would wipe the floor with him

21 posted on 05/30/2007 7:45:35 AM PDT by NYC Republican (Conservatives' Biggest Problem- Single Issue Voters)
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To: NYC Republican

He never debated her, though, and I don’t think that his candidacy was even made official. He was mulling it over.

22 posted on 05/30/2007 7:46:41 AM PDT by Brilliant
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To: Brilliant; WVNan
I don’t think Rudy ran against Hillary for Senate. You’re thinking of someone else, probably Rick Lazio.

Rudy saw the writing on the wall, so he bowed out of the race early, for "health reasons."

23 posted on 05/30/2007 7:48:31 AM PDT by highball ("I never should have switched from scotch to martinis." -- the last words of Humphrey Bogart)
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To: Brilliant

I think a Romney/Thompson (or vice-versa) would wipe the floor with Hillary.

24 posted on 05/30/2007 7:48:44 AM PDT by Reaganesque (Romney 2008)
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To: Reaganesque

A Mitt vs. Fred primary works for me. I couldn’t get too upset by the outcome

25 posted on 05/30/2007 7:51:17 AM PDT by NeoCaveman (Fred 2008)
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To: Brilliant
A lot of Freepers say that, but he’s the only candidate who’s got the edge on Hillary in the Florida polls. If he’s so unpopular among NYers, then why do they support him?

I'm afraid you'll have to be more specific before I can answer that. To which polls are you referring?

26 posted on 05/30/2007 7:54:29 AM PDT by highball ("I never should have switched from scotch to martinis." -- the last words of Humphrey Bogart)
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To: NeoCaveman

In a recent, online poll which measured not just who people wanted for the nominee but polled their feelings towards the other candidates, Romney and Thompson supporters had generally positive views of the other candidates. I think that’s healthy. Ron Paul “supporters” had nothing good to say about anyone else. This is not healthy. A Romney/Thompson primary could be very good for the party.

27 posted on 05/30/2007 7:54:55 AM PDT by Reaganesque (Romney 2008)
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To: Nervous Tick
It's not just the MSM. Many here have objected to it. How about...
a candidate who has all the right positions on the issues, one you agree with, one who can beat Hillary. But...he's a Baptist. Can't have that, I'm sitting this election out... Now I know many do have grave concerns about the Mormon faith and many call it a cult, but whomever wins the nomination, let's hope he can beat HER in the final election.

Guiliani? Italian...naah, don't want him in. He'd be pals with the Mafia.
McCain? Too old. Not a young guy like Reagan was.
Fred Thompson? An actor. I don't want Hollywood influencing his vote.
Let's see, what other excuses I can find...

If you feel his Mormonism disqualifies him, then so be it, but if we wind up with a weaker candidate, whomever he is, be prepared for a good cry come 1/20/09 when she raises her right hand to take the Oath of Office, with the First Husband by her side.

28 posted on 05/30/2007 7:59:44 AM PDT by raccoonradio
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To: Reaganesque

I like Mitt and all, but Deseret News isn’t exactly a non-biased source here...

29 posted on 05/30/2007 8:06:59 AM PDT by DesScorp
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To: DesScorp

True, but the article does make some very valid points and the polls in MI, NH and IA tend to support the article’s claim. But, it is still early and anything can happen.

30 posted on 05/30/2007 8:09:51 AM PDT by Reaganesque (Romney 2008)
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To: HerrBlucher

I sincerely hope that you are right.

I am quite concerned for the future because I have children, and now even grandchildren.

31 posted on 05/30/2007 8:17:25 AM PDT by Radix ( Honey, I shrunk our Carbon Footprint.)
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To: Reaganesque

It’s going to be Romney / Thompson. And they’ll win.

32 posted on 05/30/2007 8:21:36 AM PDT by D-Chivas
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To: D-Chivas

Change that to Thompson/Romney and I’ll be supporting them.

33 posted on 05/30/2007 8:23:08 AM PDT by piceapungens
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To: Reaganesque

I hope you’re right, but I think you’ve gotta look at it on a state by state basis. Kerry almost pulled it out. He lost Fla. If he’d won Fla, then he would have won. If he’d won Ohio, he would have won. I don’t think that Kerry was any stronger a candidate than Hillary will be.

34 posted on 05/30/2007 8:27:39 AM PDT by Brilliant
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To: highball; colorcountry; MHGinTN; Colofornian; FastCoyote; Elsie

15 posts, bigotry card played!

35 posted on 05/30/2007 8:29:26 AM PDT by greyfoxx39 (Thanks congress and President Bush, I'm feeling very non-multi-culti today!)
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To: DesScorp

The Deseret Morning News is a newspaper published in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is Utah’s oldest continually published daily newspaper. It has the second largest daily circulation in the state behind The Salt Lake Tribune. The Deseret Morning News is owned by Deseret News Publishing Company, a subsidiary of Deseret Management Corporation, which is a for-profit business holdings company owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (widely known as the Mormon or LDS Church).

36 posted on 05/30/2007 8:43:23 AM PDT by colorcountry ("You step in crap once and spend the rest of your life scraping it off.")
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To: mirkwood

Nice fellow, but this race belongs to Mitt and Fred!

37 posted on 05/30/2007 8:46:15 AM PDT by restornu (Matt.10:16 Lord's sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye wise as serpents & harmless as doves ~ Mitt 08)
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To: greyfoxx39

You mean 14 posts.

38 posted on 05/30/2007 8:46:44 AM PDT by nowandlater
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To: colorcountry
widely known as the Mormon or LDS Church) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
39 posted on 05/30/2007 8:49:09 AM PDT by restornu (Matt.10:16 Lord's sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye wise as serpents & harmless as doves ~ Mitt 08)
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To: FastCoyote

Tick: “The Constitution prohibits a religious test for office...”
Coyote: “No, it doesnt”

OH yes it does! Explicitly.

Article VI
All debts contracted and engagements entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but

no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

40 posted on 05/30/2007 8:57:30 AM PDT by Nervous Tick
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