- ...To terminate the competition, Romney is employing the same playbook George W. Bush used to devastate a crowded field of candidates eight years ago. Both came to the campaign unburdened by a significant, defining political record — Bush because his only elected office, governor of Texas, has minimal power, and Romney because, after two neither sterling nor disgraceful years, he was more or less absent without leave (except for occasional photo-ops).
Bush started with the advantage of high name-recognition, of course, but it was his $37 million fundraising report at the end of June 1999 that solidified the perception that he was a serious front-running candidate. Then his victory in the Iowa straw poll knocked out, in rapid succession, former Tennessee governor (now US senator) Lamar Alexander, former vice-president Dan Quayle, former labor secretary (now US senator from North Carolina) Elizabeth Dole, and all-purpose conservative icon Pat Buchanan. At that point, Bush needed only to fend off long-shot challenges from self-funded magazine publisher Steve Forbes and McCain, then in his first presidential run, which he did by isolating their weaknesses and pummeling them viciously...
...“This is an exercise in branding,” says Charles M. Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a right-wing think tank in Concord, New Hampshire. “You want people, when they think of you, not to think of specific positions, but a sense of what approach you might take. For Romney, it’s about fiscal conservatism.”
Never mind that his claim to that description is highly suspect. “By any reasonable standard, he did raise taxes in Massachusetts, and he goes around claiming that he didn’t,” says Mayer, who adds that Romney’s claim to have left Massachusetts’s budget balanced is equally dubious.
No matter; poor reviews don’t stop well-marketed films from setting opening-weekend box-office records. Romney has his programmed mission, and — as with any sci-fi hero — gaps in logic and reason won’t stop him from pursuing it.