With 228 delegates up for grabs in Texas primary today, Mitt Romney is sure to officially secure the GOP nomination. Of course, it was always a foregone conclusion, though at times the bloviating faux-intellectual Newt Gingrich, the bigoted Rick Santorum, and the often inspiring (defense cuts, financial reform, stop War on Drugs) but fringe-dwelling (“End the Fed,” states’ rights argument against gay marriage) Ron Paul peaked. Perhaps it is proof that despite the GOP’s best efforts, the most extreme elements were never really positioned to actually win the nomination.
And so, Romney will be on to the general election after today, although this has essentially been the case for the last few months.
What now? Expect campaign spending that has no antecedent in American history. Romney is sitting on a considerable personal fortune and the Citizens United v. FEC ruling will allow corporations to fuel his campaign with their monetized “free speech.” Obama, of course, is no slouch when it comes to fundraising. No one doubts that he will surpass the $750 million he raised in 2008, and some suggest he might approach $1 billion in total contributions. It should be remembered, though, that a large amount of Obama’s 2008 total was comprised of small donations from average Americans.
If Romney expects to beat Obama, it will have to be on matters financial and economic. Obama has proven his mettle as a Commander-In-Chief, with the delicate exit from Iraq, a renewed commitment to Afghanistan under his term and a 2014 withdrawl, the assassination of Osama bin Laden, and his decision to help the Libyan revolution from behind the scenes. Romney simply does not have defense bona fides to contend, although he does enjoy the support of 57% of veterans compared to Obama’s 35%.
Romney will then have to argue that his expertise in private equity and venture capitalism (indeed, his gleeful willingness to eviscerate companies in the name of profit) will translate to an economic resurgence from 2012 to 2016. He cannot claim, as Obama can, that he staunched the flow of a recession triggered by Wall Street’s criminal malfeasance. And Romney really cannot argue that Obama has been anti-business. If anything, Obama has not been aggressive enough in holding Wall Street to account for its misdeeds, he is as his former Chief of Staff William Daley (a former banker) noted, “a pro-business president.”
GOP politicians, operatives and conservative pundits have done a great job of obscuring the truth that Obama is big-business friendly, which will work to Mitt’s advantage. Romney can expect this collective hallucination existing in the conservative electorate to lead to the usual conservative voting numbers, but he will have to convince skeptical swing voters to steal the election from Obama.