Mitt Romney is currently being referred to by the Politico as having the “best-positioned” campaign among the GOP candidates. He has said that his plan is to win the early primary states of New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina in order to carry the momentum into Super Tuesday. Fortunately for him, he has gained undeniably substantial leads in New Hampshire and Iowa, along with competitive numbers in South Carolina. Yet, his national numbers are still somewhat dismal, when compared to his success in certain states.
So, what does Mitt Romney need to do to solidify his support and win the nomination? Here’s some ideas that I have:
1. Settle the religion issue once and for all. Romney needs to take a page out of the Kennedy playbook and make that speech concerning the way his religion affects him as as a candidate and potential officeholder. So far, he has done a decent job of handling himself in regard to his religion, but making a single defining speech like Kennedy did will likely put the matter to rest for good.
2. Keep picking up evangelical endorsements. If he can persuade people like James Dobson, Franklin Graham, or Rick Warren to support him, he can effectively sway the evangelical vote. A major part of Bush’s victories in 2000 and 2004 were due to evangelicals. If Romney can demonstrate that he is significantly different from Giuliani on social issues because he shares evangelical values, he can win them over and carry their support in the general election.
3. Keep picking up political endorsements. The Judd Gregg endorsement should solidify Romney’s victory in New Hampshire. More endorsements in South Carolina and Florida would be extremely helpful to his campaign at this point. Speaking of the South….
4. Campaign in the Southeast. I think the reason that Romney isn’t doing too well in the South is because he generally hasn’t been there. I only know of one stop to Alabama, very few stops in Georgia and Tennessee, none in Mississippi or Louisiana that I know of. So many people in this area just don’t know who Romney is. He needs to make himself known in this territory (especially since Alabama is part of Super Tuesday… and it’s my home state).
5. Tout the business experience. I’ve been reading Turnaround, Romney’s account of the Salt Lake City Olympics, and it is amazing! The things he was able to do in such a difficult situation are virtually heroic. His experience at Bain Capital is also impressive. People need to know that he’s not just some one-term governor from a blue state, he’s a brilliant CEO and business mastermind.
6. Tout the political experience. This is one area where Romney has been fairly good. He balanced the budget four years straight without raising taxes in the bluest state in the union. That can’t be said enough! Every success as governor of Massachusetts should be talked about. I’d even include personal accounts from Massachusetts citizens who have enjoyed the benefits of his administration in commercials.
7. Increase publicity. Sure, the occasional appearance on Hannity & Colmes will help. But it also wouldn’t hurt to appear on shows like Regis & Kelly, Oprah, the Daily Show or even the Colbert Report in addition to H&C, the O’Reilly Factor, Meet the Press, Scarborough Country, and Hardball. Most Republicans take themselves a bit too seriously. I think appearing on the Colbert Report actually helped candidates like Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul. I doubt more exposure would be a bad thing for Romney at this point.
8. Appeal to fiscal conservatives. Even though the evangelical vote is crucial, Romney has an excellent business record that can appeal to fiscal conservatives, the same ones that Giuliani is currently courting. If he can sway fiscons (new word?) along with evangelicons (if I’m the first to come up with that, I want a dollar everytime someone uses it), Romney will be unstoppable.
Romney is right in that the winner of this nomination will need the full support of the diverse conservative base. He will need evangelicals, fiscal conservatives, moderates, and everyone else that the Republican party appeals to in order to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2008. Personally, I think Romney has just as good a shot as Giuliani if he will follow these objectives.