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Morning Jay: Mitt Romney's Big Political Problem

6:00 AM, May 13, 2011 • By JAY COST
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This is a near-impossible bind for any politician. It’s fair to say Romney was damned if he did (govern Massachusetts the way that state prefers and suffer with the conservative base) and damned if he didn’t (let Massachusetts grind to a halt, win the affection of the base, but take heat in the general election as a failed leader who put ideology over governance).

To Romney’s credit, he and his advisors clearly understand the nature of this problem, but unfortunately their solutions have not been very effective to date. In 2008, conservative opinion seemed genuinely split on whether Romney had a real change of heart on abortion. And now, even the tag of the Massachusetts health reform – “RomneyCare” – suggests that he has significant problems moving forward. His response to the health care dilemma, pushing the federalism argument, doesn’t seem to be going over very well.

I think it is far too early to start placing odds on any of the major would-be nominees, and Romney does strike me as a serious contender. Yet there is no doubt that Romney has a very serious problem. Sixty years ago, he would have been an easy, obvious choice for the Republican nomination. However, time has passed and the balance of power in the GOP has shifted decisively, leaving the Northeastern wing of the party on the outside looking in. That is Mitt Romney’s big political problem.

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