Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, celebrates his Florida primary election win at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Mitt Romney is the least appealing front-runner for a Republican presidential nomination since Herbert Hoover convinced an appropriately skeptical Grand Old Party to renominate him in 1932.
And Hoover, for all his faults, was a far more commendable figure than the Bain Capitalist will ever be.
Romney has scant personal appeal, as polling and anecdotal evidence confirms on a daily basis. After pondering several options for the most ironically absurd headline of the week, the editors of the satirical newspaper the Onion chose for their current edition: “Romneymania Sweeps America.”
Romney, pro-choice before he was anti-choice, pro–healthcare reform before he was anti–healthcare reform, has no ideological appeal to a party of purists.
And Romney, now fully identified as the poster boy for crony capitalism, rapacious greed and tax avoidance, has an increasingly limited appeal as a potentially electable Republican nominee in November. As former Florida Governor Charlie Crist said after the former Massachusetts governor won Tuesday night’s Florida primary, the Republican fight so far — and the fight from here on out — "has to have a negative impact" on party unity and Romney’s ultimate prospects.
Even with Tuesday night’s Florida win, Romney has yet to show that he has what it takes to unify a majority of Republicans behind his candidacy. He has not done that in any of the primary and caucus states that have voted thus far; nor is he anywhere near doing that in national polls. This explains why the candidates who got the majority of Florida votes — Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul — will stay in a race where 95 percent of Republican National Convention delegates are still to be chosen.
On Tuesday night, Gingrich backers, as enthusiastic as ever, held up signs that read: "46 States to Go!" Promising a "people power" versus "money power" race through the rest of those states, Gingrich portrayed himself as the "conservative alternative" to Romney, "the Massachusetts moderate."