How is it that an individual such as Mitt Romney could not have had better luck as a presidential candidate and still struggle? In spite of multiple candidates reaching the apex of ratings and popularity, only Romney has endured and somehow stood above the fray. Despite this, he faces distrust among conservative Republicans for his mixed record on a number of issues that define a party changed by Ronald Reagan.
Through more than 40 years of senatorial service, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., only faced one candidate who came close to removing him from office. At the time, Romney supported a woman's choice in abortion, bragged about standing against Reagan's economic policy, supported the Brady Bill on gun restriction and was against school prayer. Romney has always been a Republican, but his consistency as a conservative is questionable.
Even in the successful gubernatorial election in 2002, Romney maintained some of these viewpoints. He supported maintaining the Massachusetts status quo on abortion. According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology's oldest newspaper, The Tech, Romney declared, "I will not change any provisions in Massachusetts pro-choice laws." He now maintains his commitment to repealing Roe v. Wade.
On job creation, Business Insider reported that Massachusetts only averaged 1.4 percent growth during his time as governor, also supported by USA Today. The national average in the time of Romney's term was 5.3 percent, and the independent think tank MassINC reported a ranking of 49th in job creation from 2001-07.
This is also excluding the health care reform signed in 2006. Romney now runs against a health mandate, suggesting that the "Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority" is much different than a federal health mandate. On his fiscal record, Romney at least balanced a $3-billion deficit.
Part of Romney's success in this election has been his uninspired opponents. He has always been the most prepared, most financially supported and had the most political networks. Yet, a Gallup poll from the GOP ballot as of Jan. 9 shows a ranking of 30 percent among likely voters. From Nov. 6 through Dec. 25, Romney did not break 25 percent until after Christmas.
When the numbers returned from the Iowa Republican Caucus, Romney bested Santorum by only eight votes. This is bewildering considering that Romney was the frontrunner for more than two years. He finally managed to have his shining moment in New Hampshire, dominating with 40 percent of the vote. This momentum may finally carry him to the nomination, but his opponents will still continue and hammer on Romney's record.
I still maintain that Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana would have been the best candidate for Republicans to run in 2012. He has the blessings of a strong economic policy through low unemployment and balanced budgets, social policies favored by conservatives, and the fact that he was a two-term governor.
The Republican party as of the last 30 years has been the party of Reagan and will only embrace Romney at arm's length. Romney is more like the former governor of New York, George Pataki. Both are moderate Republicans who conceded on many policies to have any influence.
Romney has been both politically savvy and clever to avoid drawing attention to his Mormonism, sure to draw unease from Catholics and Christian evangelicals. Romney does not have a solidified base among conservative Republicans, and the albatross of his record remains his largest liability.