Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney makes his bid for the Republican nomination for president official today and the presumptive front-runner for the GOP nod to face pro-abortion President Barack Obama has work to do.
Romney will start his campaign by taking on Obama on the economy.
“Barack Obama has failed America,” Romney will say, according to excerpts of the address he will give in New Hampshire, the site of the second primary election battleground and a state Romney needs to win to have a realistic shot at becoming the nominee. “From my first day in office my No. 1 job will be to see that America once again is No. 1 in job creation. Government under President Obama has grown to consume almost 40 percent of our economy. We are only inches away from ceasing to be a free-market economy.”
Romney is expected to restate his call for the repeal of Obamacare, which has abortion funding loopholes and prompts rationing concerns for pro-life groups, and he will pledge to “return responsibility and authority to the states for dozens of government programs.”
While Romney is concentrating on Obama, the 2008 republican presidential candidate first has to secure the nomination and overcome doubts among conservative and pro-life voters that he will be one of them should he become the president. Governing Massachusetts as an abortion supporter who instituted a government-run health care program, Romney, years later, is now a candidate who campaigns on a pro-life position and is calling for reversing Obamacare while defending the health care program he implemented.
As other conservative candidates like Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, and businessman Herman Cain challenge Romney from the right, the question will be whether Romney can withstand the scrutiny and criticism that comes with his change of heart on abortion and the perceived contradictions on health care. In a speech last month in Michigan, Romney largely defended the law he signed in Massachusetts but said he never meant for it to become a national plan or a guide for other states.
Romney’s name identification from the previous race has allowed him to establish himself as the top candidate with Republican voters both nationally and in Iowa. However, in the Midwestern state that starts the primary election season next January, Romney fares well with moderate and center-right Republicans but is not the leading candidate when conservative Republican voters are considered.
Romney will also benefit from a strong campaign apparatus that is largely still in place from 2008. he has the ability to pour millions of his own money into the campaign but he also raised $10.25 million in an eight-hour phone-a-thon in Las Vegas last month — more money than other GOP candidates can put into their operations. According to the Washington Post, Romney raised $65.1 million in contributions for his 2008 bid for the GOP nomination and loaned his campaign $42.3 million from his personal funds.
James Antle of the American Spectator says Romney’s ability to win the nomination lies with his potential to run a campaign similar to the one John McCain ran in 2008 that propelled him to victory.
“In 2008, Romney was doomed by his failure to become the unquestioned conservative alternative to John McCain. Instead he shared that mantle with Huckabee, Fred Thompson, and several lower-tier candidates. This time Romney’s path to the nomination resembles McCain’s: he can win with the votes of moderates and a critical mass of conservatives, while his opponents carve up the rest of the conservative vote,” he says. “The Romney campaign is one of the great Rorschach tests of American politics. Depending on your view, one might contrast Romney’s record with the Tea Party-infused Republican Party and ask: How can he win? One might also look at the rest of the field — and the GOP’s penchant for rewarding the runner-up from the last election — and ask: How can Romney lose?”
In 2008, Romney did well in a handful of early caucus states in the western United States, where his Mormon views yielded him the support of Republican voters in places like Nevada and Wyoming, and he won the state of Michigan, where his father previously served as governor. But he failed to win in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina and ultimately withdrew from consideration when it became clear John McCain had enough delegate votes to become the nominee.
Romney campaigned in 2008 as a pro-life candidate after seeking the governorship of Massachusetts as an abortion advocate. While some pro-life voters welcomed his conversion before the 2008 campaign, others questioned his sincerity and whether he was merely trying to win over the majority of Republican voters who take a pro-life position.
For pro-life advocates, overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion decision so abortion can again be prohibited has always been a hallmark of a true pro-life stance. During a January 2008 campaign stop in Nevada, Romney said he lined up with the pro-life movement against Roe.
“I am pro-life, and I would welcome a time when the people of America concluded that abortion was wrong, but that’s not where America is, and that’s why I believe that the next right step for America is for the court to overturn Roe v. Wade,” he said. “That would return to the states and to the elected representatives of the people the ability to set their own laws related to abortion.”
He also said during the 2008 presidential campaign that he supports a federal human life amendment as a second goal after first toppling Roe and letting states ban abortions again.
Romney, in 2008, received the endorsement of James Bopp, a nationally-respected pro-life attorney, who said the issue of embryonic stem cell research prompted Romney’s conversion to the pro-life side. Because he is helping to organize the Republican debates this year for the national Republican Party, Bopp told LifeNews he is not endorsing any candidates in this primary election.