Gaming the General
It sure sounds like one candidate is already keeping an eye firmly trained on his ideological positioning for the 2012 general election. At least that was my initial reaction yesterday when I read former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s conciliatory comments towards organized labor at a New Hampshire town hall meeting.  Combine those remarks with Romney’s recent refusal to sign a sweeping anti-abortion pledge, and one could certainly argue that Romney is not only attempting to draw meaningful distinctions with other candidates in the Republican field (especially the movement conservative crowd), but is also minimizing the distance he would need to tack to the ideological center as the party’s nominee. In addition, to the extent that Romney is looking for a New Hampshire win to catapult his candidacy through the rest of the primary schedule, these moves also make sense in a state with a Republican primary electorate that includes a fair number of moderates and independents.
I’m also tempted to argue that these moves represent an acknowledgement by the Romney campaign of the potential threat posed by former Utah governor, Ambassador Jon Huntsman, who is essentially fighting for the same piece of the Republican primary electorate in New Hampshire. But Huntsman’s weak post-campaign kickoff polling numbers in the state seem to suggest that this is less of a priority for the Romney camp, at least for now. Still, there is a preemptive quality to these moves that will likely help Romney should Huntsman eventually pose a more immediate threat to his clear frontrunner status in the Granite State.

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