News / USA

    Romney Presidential Bid Hinges on Winning Conservative Support

    Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks as he campaigns in Bedford, New Hampshire, December 20, 2011.
    Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks as he campaigns in Bedford, New Hampshire, December 20, 2011.

    In U.S. politics, voters in the Midwestern state of Iowa begin the presidential selection process January 3 with the Iowa caucuses. Seven Republican contenders will vie for support as Iowans gather in their local communities to express their preferences. One of the favorites for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination this year is former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who also ran in 2008.

    In his quest for the presidency, Mitt Romney is hoping the second time around is a charm.

    Romney is banking on his background as governor, and more importantly as a businessman, to win the Republican nomination and face off against President Obama in November.

    “We are Americans and we will not surrender our dreams to the failures of this president. We are bigger than the misguided policies and weak leadership of one man. America is bigger than Barack Obama’s failures!” said Romney.

    National fame


    Romney first came to national attention when he took over management of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, after a scandal left the original organizers in dissaray.

    As governor of Massachusetts, Romney often positioned himself as a moderate to find common ground in a state that is heavily Democratic.  During this time Romney fashioned a health-care plan that in some ways became a model for the national reform plan signed into law by Obama.

    The Obama plan is very unpopular with conservative Republicans and remains a weak point for Romney as he tries to build support among Republican primary and caucus voters.

    On foreign policy, Romney believes the Obama administration has been too tough on Israel, and not tough enough on Iran and China.

    “I believe that the next century must be an American century. I believe our highest priority must be to maintain a people, an economy and a military so strong that no nation would ever, ever risk challenging it,” said Romney.

    Deep campaign pockets

    Romney is well organized for the primary campaign and has lots of money.

    But he also has had his share of awkward moments, including a debate encounter with rival Rick Perry that reminded voters of his wealthy background.

    “Rick, I will tell you what. $10,000 bucks? $10,000 bet? Oh, Okay, Okay,” said Romney.

    Romney likes to emphasize his business background on the campaign trail and says rivals like Newt Gingrich are merely career politicians. That brought a sharp retort from Gingrich during a recent debate in Iowa.

    “Let us be candid. The only reason you did not become a career politician is you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994,” said Gingrich.

    Lingering doubts remain


    Romney has long been considered the Republican frontrunner in 2012, but he still has to overcome doubts that he is conservative enough for much of the party, said analyst John Fortier.

    “They find him acceptable. They believe he says what he means. But they are not sure if he says it with conviction and that in his core he is really a conservative,” said Fortier.

    Romney also has worked to overcome concerns about his Mormon religion, which some Americans consider outside the mainstream.

    Despite the doubts, expert Stuart Rothenberg said Romney remains a formidable contender.

    “Mitt Romney is in the top tier. Mitt Romney appeals to about one quarter of all Republicans and he has built a large, established, experienced national presidential campaign. Whether that will be enough to get him the nomination we do not yet know,” said Rothenberg.

    Given his organization and the money he has raised, Romney clearly intends to remain in the Republican race for the long haul.


    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

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