2012 Republican Presidential Nominee
Former Governor of Massachusetts
Former Massachusetts Governor Willard Mitt Romney is a man who has it all. A vast personal fortune, a successful private career, a stint in public office, a perfect family life, a sharp mind, a charismatic personality, and, he is very easy on the eyes. Heck, even his name has a touch of stardust about it. And now, after his nomination as President by the Republican Party, the 65-year old Romney is about to crown his phenomenal career by capturing the highest office in the land, the office of the President of the United States of America.
However, it has not been an entirely smooth journey for the former bishop. Despite his appeal to the moderates and independents, Gov. Romney faced tremendous resistance from the GOP conservative base over the last five years.
There were strong concerns over his fundamental political ideology. His stewardship of the Massachusetts 2006 health care reform, which many charged was the progenitor of President Obama's Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), threatened to derail his candidacy earlier on. His critics also contend that his greatest strength, the ability to build a consensus from diverging factions, was also his greatest weakness. He appears to be intent on pleasing everyone, which lends an appearance of him being indecisive on the issues. These characteristics were used in devastating fashion in 2007/08 by Gov. Mike Huckabee, Senator Fred Thompson and Senator John McCain to derail Gov. Romney's first campaign for the GOP nomination.
However, perhaps a better way to look at the quarter billion dollar man is through his own eyes, that of a financial investor. Mitt hedges his position across a broad portfolio, which, while preventing the chance of a mega payday, also drastically reduces the chances of a catastrophic loss. In other words, he doesn't believe in putting all of his eggs in a single basket. Instead, the grandfather of fourteen is intent on keeping hypothetical baskets of varying sizes to hypothetically fit as wide a spectrum as possible of the hypothetical egg demographics.
Cognizant of this perceived vulnerability, Mitt has adopted a very organized and low-key strategy for the 2011/12 nomination cycle. He chose to skip all the straw polls and remain in the shadows of his rivals, only making a handful controlled media appearances. Gov. Romney clearly remembers how brightly his star shone in the 2008 race, and how quickly it faded as well. He revealed his hand only several times early in 2011.
Former advisor to President George W. Bush, and 2008 Republican nominee John McCain, Mark McKinnon, concurs, stating, "Romney is playing things very methodically and deliberatively. I think he understands the physics of this game very well now and is carefully calibrating his approach to 2012."
As it turned out, Gov. Romney's strategy ultimately proved to be a brilliant one. After soaking the year-long criticisms and more importantly, the limited resources of his challengers, Mitt flexed his campaign muscle and ran away with the nomination with startling ease. Along the way, the Detroit-born Bay Stater also won over the conservative base, and stunningly, the support of almost all of his nomination rivals.
2012 Democratic Presidential Nominee
Current President of the United States
The Barack Obama juggernaut swept into office in 2008 under the banner of change and unity, two rallying cries that reinvigorated the blasé and jaded section of the electorate. He was armed with a war chest of the likes never seen before, accompanied by an army of politically outspoken glitterati and aided ultimately, by a waning George W. Bush, his predecessor.
It would be unfair though to solely credit Obama's ascension to the highest office in the land to merely external factors. Obama is exceptionally intelligent, articulate and possesses an old-school, hands-on approach to politics that harkens back to the days of Strom Thurmond, or even, the more contemporary Rudy Giuliani – albeit with infinitely more panache.
However, as the euphoria of his victory began to steadily die down, the 51-year old has had to deal with a growing number of issues that have taken the shine of his presidency. Questions about his controversial Affordable Care Act, the stagnant national unemployment rate, his perceived big-government approach, the Birther accusations (which many felt carried unpleasant racial undertones), allegations of ties with radical socialist elements, and more recently, the debt ceiling battle in the Capitol, have seen his stock plummet.
His supporters, nevertheless, claim that most of the issues that are weighing him down were inherited from the previous administration, and Obama is merely cleaning up the mess; two unpaid wars, the worst economic depression in 80 years, a broken national health care system, the battered international reputation of the United States, and a horrific job market crash, were just some of the issues he had to contend with.
They are quick to highlight his success in hunting down Osama bin Laden, his job-creation numbers (which have already overtaken the Bush administration's eight-year tally), the recovery of the Detroit automotive industry as a result of his bailout plan, the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan and Iraq, the effective military approach in aiding three successful African revolution – all proof of President Obama's effective policies.
However, the biggest question among his detractors is whether President Obama is capable of charting his own course and holding the country to it. His concessionary approach is gradually being interpreted as a symbol of his indecisiveness and lack of conviction - which under the present socio-economic conditions and the Republican-dominated Congress, is threatening to consign the nation into a rudderless second term of his presidency. Furthermore, the more liberal section of his support base is increasingly dismayed by his apparent shift to the center, which is seen by many as a capitulation in the face of a sustained conservative onslaught. There are growing calls for him to stand his ground and to fight for the cause of the people that elected him.