Mitt Romney for President 2012: Health Care, Tea Party Mean He Won't Win

The former Massachusetts governor launched a 2012 exploratory committee on Monday to a collective yawn. Romney should lead the GOP field—but his Tea Party misfires and connections to Obamacare mean he won't win, writes Mark McKinnon.

Mitt Romney. Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images,Chip Somodevilla

Mitt Romney tries so hard. And he's so damned earnest. But among his long list of impressive credentials, I don't think president is going to ever make the résumé.

By all conventional standards, Romney should be running away with the Republican nomination. A solid executive-government experience outside of Washington (a plus these days). Highly successful businessman in the private sector. Solid family man with strong religious background. Personal wealth. Leading man handsome. Prodigious fundraiser. Been-through-this-before drill. Knows the ropes.

Plus, there is a historic GOP tradition of handing the nomination baton to the guy who's been standing second in line (e.g. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, John McCain).

So, why is it that with the announcement of his exploratory committee today there seemed to be a huge collective yawn? And the refrain from most people, including me, "What, I thought he announced his exploratory committee a year ago."

Mitt Romney is damned by timing and circumstance.

Let us ponder some of Romney's problems:

He is an entirely conventional candidate in an entirely unconventional time in American politics. People don't want the Cola. They want the Un-Cola. He may try to make the moves, but he sure doesn't look or sound like a Tea Party candidate. And the more he makes the moves, the more he looks like the human pretzel he became in 2008, when he contorted himself to try to please the right wing of the party. The No. 1 issue for Republicans in 2012 is going to be President Obama's health-care law. And Romney is already wrapping himself around the axle trying to explain how the health plan he engineered in Massachusetts is substantially different than Obama’s. And how is this for irony: Romney announced his exploratory committee on the fifth anniversary of “Romneycare.” Nobody really thinks or talks about Romney as the prohibitive favorite he ought to be.

He is an entirely conventional candidate in an entirely unconventional time. People don't want the Cola. They want the Un-Cola.

I think Romney's fundamental strategy is to just outmuscle, out-organize and out-fundraise the field and, thereby, outlast 'em. And it may work. It's frankly probably his best—and only—strategy.

Mitt Romney on Monday announced his exploratory committee with the fanfare of a classified notice of a bridge club meeting.

Mitt Romney is a nice guy. But, we know where nice guys finish in politics.

As vice chairman of Hill & Knowlton and Public Strategies, and president of Maverick Media, Mark McKinnon has helped meet strategic challenges for candidates, corporations and causes, including George W. Bush, John McCain, Ann Richards, Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong, and Bono. McKinnon is co-founder of No Labels and co-chair of Arts & Labs.