Can Mitt Feel Pain?

If it weren’t bad enough that he’s become the face of leveraged buyouts, Mitt Romney is facing another fresh challenge in the next three primary and caucus states. As Arthur Delaney points out at Huffington Post, the first two states to vote for a GOP nominee have weathered the recession relatively well—a boon for the laissez-faire front-runner. It’s a different story in the next three: South Carolina and Florida, with 9.9 percent and 10 percent unemployment respectively, and Nevada, which tops the country in both unemployment (13 percent) and foreclosures (one of every 16 homes in 2011).

While Romney has a fat jobs plan—59 points, people!—it sounds strikingly old-school after 32 years of Reaganomics: Cut corporate and capital-gains taxes, reduce regulations, and (here’s a departure) clamp down on “cheating” China.

The most aggressively populist jobs message has come from Rick Santorum, who is promising to make South Carolina “the manufacturing mecca of the country” with his proposal to zero out taxes for companies who bring jobs back to America.

While Santorum has shown a knack—at times—for Clinton-style pain-feeling, empathy for the forlorn has been notably missing from Romney’s repertoire. Last October, the Las Vegas Review-Journal asked how he would help the flagging housing market that is hurting so many Nevadans. His chilly response: "Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.” Last June in Florida, long before he claimed to New Hampshirites that knew the fear of getting a “pink slip,” Romney made an equally unsuccessful stab at relating to the hard-put-upon: “I should tell my story,” he said at a campaign stop. “I’m also unemployed.”


So They Say

“Creative destruction does enhance productivity. For an economy to thrive, as ours does, there are a lot of people who will suffer as a result of that.”

—Mitt Romney, quoted in the pro-Gingrich Winning our Future PAC’s documentary, When Mitt Romney Came to Town


Daily Meme: Conservatives Fret Over Mitt

  • American Thinker: Nominating Romney is a “well-worn path to defeat.”  
  • American Spectator: “RINO Romney Is the Least Electable.”
  • National Review Online: “Knee-jerk defense” of Bain Capital spells trouble in the general election.
  • William Kristol:If this is where some in the conservative movement and the Republican Party are inclined to go—four cheers for finance capitalism!—good luck.”
  • Sarah Palin: Questions about Romney and Bain are “fair game.”
  • John Podhoretz: Why does he look beaten while he’s winning?


What We're Writing

  • In South Carolina, Jamelle Bouie witnesses “Mittmentum” firsthand—and sees a sharp contract with the tone of Santorum’s campaign.
  • Steve Erickson writes that Ron Paul’s guerrilla campaign is anything but “marginal”—and won’t end when the GOP nominates someone else.


What We're Reading

  • Andrew Sullivan: Santorum’s celebration of an Iranian nuclear scientists’ assassination conveys a “lost moral compass.”
  • The New Yorker: Ten things Mitt did right in New Hampshire. 
  • Funny or Die: The 12 best pictures from Mitt Romney's days as a stock photo model.
  • Ari Fleischer: Only Gingrich and Sheldon Adelson can stop Romney from winning the GOP nomination.
  • William Galston: Bain could be the death knell for Romney.


Poll of the Day

In South Carolina, Insider Advantage finds Romney and Gingrich in a statistical tie. Santorum is third in the poll, seven points behind Gingrich.