12.12.11 9:45 AM ET
Is Mitt Romney Toast? Howard Kurtz and Michael Tomasky Debate
He’s clearly wounded, but it’s too soon to pronounce him dead. Howard Kurtz on why Mitt Romney could bounce back against the unpredictable Newt Gingrich.
It has been conventional wisdom for nearly a year now: whatever Republican flashes-in-the-pan have briefly caught fire, Mitt Romney was the inevitable nominee.
Now the media mavens are bolting in the other direction: Is this guy on the ropes? Can he avoid being knocked out by the free-swinging Newt Gingrich? Not many pundits would bet $10,000 at this point that Mitt survives.
“ROMNEY REELING,” screamed the headline in Sunday’s Huffington Post.
Through all the ups and downs of the past few months, Mitt Romney has remained the default front-runner—until now. Michael Tomasky on the beginning of the end.
For months, the default position has been: “Oh, in the end, it’ll be Romney.” Donald Trump surged. Then Michele Bachmann. Then Rick Perry, who seemed serious, at least until people actually got a good look at him. Then Herman Cain. They all had their moment, but through every one of those episodes, most observers said that the flavor of the month really didn’t have what it took, and at the end of the day the GOP would turn inevitably to Mitt Romney. Some people are still saying that, but there are fewer of them, and this week is the first one of the whole campaign in which Romney feels like the guy who is definitely in second place, and maybe for good.
There could have been contexts in which Romney’s $10,000 bet remark from Saturday night’s debate wouldn’t have been such a big deal. We’ve all said, “I’ll bet you a thousand bucks that...” when we don’t really have a thousand bucks. If Romney were cruising in the polls and had managed to connect to Republican voters in some vital way, the comment would have passed. But he’s not cruising or connecting by a long shot, so the remark dominated Sunday’s post-debate coverage and is due for at least one more day of traction on cable.