We, like virtually every other conservative commentator on the planet, have noted Romney has serious problems with conservatives. Yet for all of his issues, no candidate has been able to exploit his weaknesses for their own gain. At this point in the primary process and with polling as it is in the early states and nationwide, we have to wonder: Is Mitt Romney inevitable?
We've seen many a Romney alternative rise to the front of the pack, only to fall back weeks later. Throughout the year, national polling has had candidates from Sarah Palin to Rick Perry leading Romney, with the former Massachusetts Governor usually holding onto the second spot.
The closer the Iowa Caucuses get without a clear challenger to Romney the more that second spot seems to become an inevitable nomination.
As a Politico piece notes this morning, it's not that conservatives are suddenly enamored with Romney, just that his detractors are beginning to accept what seems to be the impending political reality.
It's a pretty convincing article as it quotes conservative detractors of Romney from Club for Growth to RedState's Erick Erickson lamenting the seemingly unstoppable path that Romney has to becoming the Republican nominee.
Saturday's lackluster CBS foreign policy debate seemed to hint that even Romney's opponents have given up hope that they can beat him, with everyone on stage avoiding hitting Romney directly. Either that or they haven't seen a calendar lately, as with mere weeks left until Iowans make their decision, the window for a non-Romney nomination is rapidly shrinking.
Obama's campaign has already decided that Romney is the nominee, as they have trained their fire on no one else. Romney's campaign has noticed this and put out a document (PDF) this morning noting the Obama camp's near "obsession" with Romney.
Current national polls have Newt Gingrich in second, continuing the trend of an anti-Romney flavor of the week taking their turn atop the heap. Despite this recent spate of positive polling for Gingrich, his campaign seems to consist solely of stellar debate performances, and nothing else.
Perry is too busy playing out a smart, but probably ineffective in the long run, strategy of self-deprecation over his debate performances. Herman Cain, for all of his conservative activist backing, is not organizing in the early states, choosing instead to give more paid speeches and travel to states that are not Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Ron Paul is stuck with his hardcore and devoted following, unable to expand his base of support.
While we don't support any candidate in the primary, we are having an increasingly hard time seeing how anyone but Mitt makes it across the finish line.
Whether Romney is inevitable or not, we do hope for one thing — that the other candidates take off the kid gloves and make Mitt earn it. It's not that we want them to push him to take positions that would make beating Barack Obama harder. It's that Obama is set to unleash one of the nastiest and most aggressive re-election campaigns in modern history and the Republican nominee better be battle ready.
So we say stop letting Romney coast and make him fight for it. Push him off his comfortable pedestal at the debates, and force him to punch back. The last thing conservatives can afford at this point is to let Romney float comfortably by them, only to be woken up to the rude political realities of running for President by the Obama campaign.
It's time the other candidates pushed Romney into the kiln of the primary process, and hardened his candidacy clay into the ceramics of a conservative who can defeat Barack Hussein Obama. Mmm Mmm Mmm. It's time to fight.