Steve Forbes? Really?
01-04-2008
I find myself in the somewhat unusual position of wanting to defend Mitt Romney, in the wake of his loss last night in Iowa. I was bit surprised by the relish with which other candidates, political professionals, and the media all piled on to condemn Romney as the rich guy who tried to buy the election. I knew for sure that the political silly season was in full swing, when television commentators started comparing him to Steve Forbes and Phil Gramm.
 
Political professionals and the media judge the viability of political campaigns in large part by their ability to raise money and build organizations on the ground in the early states. By both of these measures, Romney has been a legitimate contender throughout this election cycle. The fact that he had been the frontrunner in both Iowa and New Hampshire for most of the past year is no small accomplishment, either.
 
I have been tough on Romney on a number of occasions over the past year, and he may eventually regret his decision to go negative over the past few weeks. But losing to Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, in a Republican contest where some entrance polls identified upwards of 60% of GOP caucus-goers as Evangelical Christians, does not mean that Romney’s political organization in Iowa was fundamentally flawed. For whatever challenges the Romney campaign now faces in New Hampshire and beyond, comparing him to Steve Forbes, an economic curiosity, and Phil Gramm, one of the worst campaigners in recent memory, misses the mark.


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