It's a complex process. It doesn't favor amatures, even talented ones, but mere competence and good advisers isn't enough either. (Pawlenty, had both but failed. Cain had neither but did pretty well.)
It doesn't matter what the supposed "big wigs" think: there are four peopole who want to be POTUS who are running. Two of them have a chance: Santorum and Romney, though Santorum's chance is small.
Romney really wants to win. He's not there as a place holder for anyone. He took a shot in 2008 and came up short, but finished decently in 2nd or 3rd depending on how you view him compared to Huck. He obviously learned a lot, some breaks came his way (the other moderates were pretty lack luster, there were a lot of conservatives splitting the conservative vote, etc.)
It's way to early to say that Romney isn't going to win. Obama is hated in much of America. I had a 21 year old black girl sneer at me "you're not going to vote for HIM again are you?" at the mere mention of his name.
In general whoever gets the nomination has a 50/50 chance of being President. Bush's elections were both very close. Barry did a bit better, but when you look at the State by State vote, it's obviously going to be a hard sell for him in the electoral college in 2012.
That's true. Sometimes lately I wish there were such an apparatus. If there were, they might have picked better candidates and groomed them better.
And Santorum a fundamentalist -- a "Christian fundamentalist" no less? I thought he was a Catholic.
"We should be looking more closely at R.J. Rushdoony" even though he and Santorum have nothing in common with each other?
We should be "looking at him" simply because it's a convenient smear to throw at Santorum?
It's not often you see that smear mechanism operating so openly.