Let Down

03.07.12

Mitt Romney Should Be Embarrassed After Super Tuesday

Romney just barely beat a guy who was outspent 5 to 1 and lost his own Senate race by 18 points. Paul Begala on the rough road ahead for the frayed frontrunner.

If Mitt Romney had been this bad at closing the deal when he was on Wall Street, he’d be homeless.

The big story out of Super Tuesday, once again, is the remarkable weakness of the frontrunner. Mitt Romney has all the money, all the organization, all the endorsements, all the big super-PAC donors (OK, most of them). There’s just one thing wrong with the Mitt Romney campaign: Mitt Romney.

Despite outspending Rick Santorum by millions of dollars, Mitt Romney wound up in a dead heat with the terminally lame Rick Santorum in Ohio—as he did in Iowa. With all due respect to the former Pennsylvania senator, if you can only manage the weakest of wins against a guy who lost his own seat by 18 points, even when you outspend him 5 to 1, and after he attacked college, sex, and JFK (the holy trinity of my life), you stink.

In Virginia—a state that has produced such leading moderate Republicans as John Warner, Romney’s only opponent was the quirky libertarian Ron Paul. And while Romney won, Rep. Paul claimed an impressive 41 percent of the vote. When you give an underfunded septuagenarian four out of 10 votes in a moderate state, something is most definitely wrong.

The best news for Mitt Romney is he finally found a place where Republicans like his Massachusetts health-care plan: Massachusetts. Romney carried the Bay State ... big woop.

Newt Gingrich, as expected, won Georgia. And he celebrated with a classic Gingrich oration. It was both self-pitying and angry; bitter and yet narcissistic; bombastic yet needy. He savaged Romney, calling his ads a “total lie.” And he attacked “Wall Street” so many times that if that was your magic word in a drinking game, by the end of the speech you were knee-walkin’, commode-huggin’, spit-slingin’ drunk.

If you can only manage the weakest of wins against a guy who lost his own seat by 18 points, you stink.

Ultimately, neither Ron Paul nor Newt Gingrich can emerge as effective challengers to Mitt Romney. But, amazingly, Rick Santorum has. The man who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Michigan by attacking college, sex, and JFK; the man who infamously compared gay Americans to something he called “man on dog”—he beat the pants off Mitt Romney in Tennessee, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, and basically tied him in Ohio. Santorum’s election-night speech was a rip-roarin’, down-home populist indictment of Romney on the issue on which he is most vulnerable among Republicans: Romneycare.

No, this doesn’t mean Romney is dead. But he is wounded and weakened. From here the campaign goes on to places like Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Hawaii, and Kansas—not exactly Romney country.

And this doesn’t mean there’s going to be a brokered convention. But get a load of this: Sarah Palin told CNN that if the GOP convention turned to her, she would not close the door. She will be in Tampa, waiting to be anointed. And the only person praying harder for that than Gov. Palin will be yours truly.