It seems like overnight the Republican also-rans have figured out that attacking Mitt Romney might be more profitable than attacking each other. Huntsman opened with a great defense of being Obama’s ambassador to China. Rick Perry, Mr. Oops himself, had a great line about Romney’s fear of pink slip being a fear of running out of them. And Romney, bless him, handed them a great line all on his own:
Now to be clear, this is taken out of context. Romney was talking about health insurance and defending the private market over a socialized market. He was saying he likes being able to fire your health insurance company if they aren’t providing you with good insurance. But given his dubious attacks on his fellows, he’s opened himself up for this.
Romney’s Bain Capital days are the epicenter of this and I can understand why. The public has a huge distaste for people who make millions downsizing and blowing up companies. Maybe they shouldn’t: there’s plenty of evidence that downsizing, in the end, moves capital and people from inefficient dying businesses to more robust ones. But it’s a fact that people don’t like it. And if you think Perry and Huntsman are being unfair about it now, you just wait until Team Obama gets their teeth into this. Five years ago, this wouldn’t have been a liability. But with the perception that our economy has been crippled by rich guys who do nothing but play with money all day, Romney’s Bain Capital background is a big liability. And how he responds now will be a big indication of whether he can absorb the punches Obama is going to deliver later this year.
Unless the Republicans suddenly discover John Huntsman, the race has narrowed down to Paul, Santorum and Romney. I still think Romney is the most likely nominee since both Santorum and Paul have a lot of baggage. But don’t be surprised if this goes a long time and ends up with a brokered convention.