Sunday, April 29, 2012

2012: A Political Cacophony

"What am I doing here," asked President Barack Obama from back stage.  "I'm opening for Jimmy Kimmel and telling knock-knock jokes to Kim Kardashian."  The audience at the White House Correspondents Dinner laughed at the president's play on the "open mic" incident with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last month.  It was another example of why President Obama is personally so popular.  

But America is evenly divided politically, and the country is ideologically very polarized.  Recent polls show the race for the White House is a dead heat.  So this November's presidential election will come down to which party can win the independents, numbering less than 10% of the electorate, and which party does the best job of mobilizing its base.  

While the president's campaign team debates whether to attack their apparent opponent, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, as an untrustworthy serial flip-flopper or a severe conservative, Republicans have decided to go after President Obama's strengths.

Republican strategist Karl Rove and his American Crossroads group launched a 30-second online ad late last week attacking the "Celebrity President."  The ad includes President Obama "slow-jamming" the news with late night show host Jimmy Fallon, and singing an Al Green song at the White House.  The ad then asks, "After four years of a celebrity president, is your life any better?"  It is a slick effort to undermine the president's personal popularity. 

Republican spokespersons and columnists have piled on, decrying the president's actions as unpresidential, desperate and aggravating, even to many Democrats. Really?  Where was their outrage when President George Bush appeared on Late Night with David Letterman?  Just who is desperate?

One year ago next Wednesday, a Navy SEAL team shot and killed al-Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden in his home in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  The raid was made following a daring decision by President Obama to make the attempt against the advice of many of his key advisers.  But Republicans are undermining any mention of this success by the Obama campaign.

Senator John McCain was most critical, "This is the same President who said, after bin Laden was dead, that we shouldn't 'spike the ball' after the touchdown. And now Barack Obama is not only trying to score political points by invoking Osama bin Laden, he is doing a shameless end-zone dance to help himself get reelected."  

There has been a consistent pattern by Republicans, since the president's first moment in office, of obstructing, obfuscating and undermining anything the president proposes.  They have divided the country and accused the president of being the great divider.  They have questioned his place of birth, his religion and have called his agenda "socialist."  They have leveraged the rules of Congress to grind to a halt or water down many of the president's proposals.  They know that political chaos reflects badly most on the man at the top.

On the very day the president was being sworn in a group of leading Republicans began plotting their tactics.  This has been confirmed in two recent books.  One of the books was written by Carl Cannon and Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics, the other by author and reporter Robert Draper.  

Draper quotes Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California as saying, "“We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”  The Cannon-Bevan book says of participant and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, “Gingrich encouraged Republican members to go on the offensive against the ascendant Democrats, stressing his view that it was less important for them to have a specific alternative legislative agenda to the Democrats’ than an alternative vision — and a compelling way of communicating it."   

So here they were, in the midst of the greatest economic crisis this country has faced since the Great Depression, largely brought on by the policies of Republican President George Bush, placing their highest priority on defeating President Barack Obama.  And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell repeatedly said his top priority was to make President Obama a one-term president.  

For sure, the rough and tumble of politics is played on both sides of the aisle.  But the Right seems to be consistently the most mean-spirited and personal.  It was a Republican Congressman who yelled out to the president "liar" from the floor of the House.  It was a Republican Congressman who recently said he believes, “There’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party.”  Nonsense!  Yet no Republican leader has denounced the charge.

The 2012 Republican primary is yet more evidence how disrespectful that party can be, only in this case it was to their own party members!  And a flood of Super PAC money has fueled this year's cacophony of harshly critical attack ads to decibel levels never before achieved.

The stage is set in 2012 for the dirtiest, most negative and deeply intense presidential campaign ever.  In fact, the campaigns have already gone to the dogs, so to speak.   

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Issa: Obama's Government "Corrupt"

California Congressmen Darrell Issa told Bloomberg News', "We are busy in Washington with a corrupt government, with a government that I said more than a year ago was perhaps -- because of the money, because of the amount of TARP and stimulus funds -- was going to be the most corrupt government in history, and it is proving to be that, just exactly that...This money, at the American people's expense, going through the hands of political leaders, is in fact corrupting the process, whether it is Solyndra, or GSA, or a number of other scandals..."  Is this the same Darrell Issa?

 Issa was charged in San Jose car theft
Lance Williams and Carla Marinucci, San Fransisco Chronicle staff writers
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, the driving force behind the effort to recall Gov. Gray Davis, was prosecuted with his brother in San Jose in 1980 for allegedly faking the theft of Issa's Mercedes Benz sedan and selling it to a car dealer for $16,000, according to court records.

Issa, in a phone interview with The Chronicle Tuesday, blamed his brother for the car theft, which was detailed in documents on file in Santa Clara County Superior Court and which has never been made public.
"I do not steal," Issa said.
The second-term San Diego area congressman has pumped $1 million into the campaign to recall Davis and has declared he will run for governor should the recall qualify for the ballot this year. Issa's previous political campaigns have been roiled by allegations that twice -- once while a student in his hometown of Cleveland and once while a soldier in Pennsylvania -- he also was involved in car thefts.
In the San Jose case, Issa, who at the time was a 27-year-old U.S. Army officer, and William Issa, 29, were arrested by San Jose police on a felony auto-theft charge in February 1980.
They were accused of a scheme in which Issa's brother allegedly sold Issa's cherry-red Mercedes 240 to Smythe European Motors in San Jose for $13,000 cash and three $1,000 traveler's checks. Within hours, Issa reported the car stolen from a lot at the Monterey airport, near his Army post at Fort Ord.
Issa and his brother pleaded not guilty. A judge ordered them to stand trial on felony charges, saying he had a "strong suspicion" that the men had committed the crime, according to the records.
But in August 1980, a prosecutor dismissed the case for lack of evidence. The men later were charged with misdemeanors, but that case was not pursued, said retired police detective Richard Christiansen, lead investigator in the case.
Issa, 49, became a multimillionaire manufacturer of electronic auto alarms, including the popular "Viper" anti-theft device. "When people ask me why I got into the car alarm business, I tell them the truth," he said in a statement to The Chronicle. "It was because my brother was a car thief."
He was elected to Congress in 2000 from the San Diego County town of Vista after losing a bruising, high-profile campaign for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 1998.
In those campaigns, Issa denied allegations of car theft and sought to blame political opponents, including U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) for planting news stories about the allegations to discredit him.
"They can't beat us on a good stand-up-for-families, stand-up-for-law-and-order type agenda," he told the Riverside Press Enterprise during his 1998 Senate Race. "They have to do it with lies in the last minute of the campaign."
The San Jose case began on Dec. 28, 1979, when a bearded man identifying himself as "Lt. Darrell Issa" and using Darrell Issa's Ohio driver's license for identification drove up to Smythe European Motors on Stevens Creek Boulevard in a new Mercedes and said he wanted to sell it.
In a preliminary hearing, salesman Norris Poulsen testified that the driver -- police contended it was Issa's brother, using Darrell Issa's driver's license for identification -- agreed to take $16,000 for the car. Then he asked for a ride to a nearby Bank of America branch.
There, the driver obtained $13,000 cash and three $1,000 travelers' checks, said teller Marcela Lawrence.
Meanwhile, according to the records, Darrell Issa had called police, saying that upon his return from a Christmas vacation in Ohio he had discovered his Mercedes was missing from the parking lot at the Monterey airport. The car's pink slip had been locked in the trunk, Issa told police.
Police investigated the case for two months, records show. Detective Christiansen testified that he repeatedly had interviewed Issa by phone and had even driven with him from Monterey to the old Fort Hunter Liggett Army base south of Big Sur to distribute a police sketch of the person who had sold the Mercedes.
The detective said he suspected William Issa was the man who had sold the car because he closely resembled the sketch of the suspect. He began to suspect Darrell Issa also was involved because some of his statements seemed unbelievable or inconsistent, he said.
Christiansen said that at first, Darrell Issa had denied he had recently gotten a new driver's license. But later, the detective said Issa acknowledged that while in Ohio he had obtained two new driver's licenses -- one a renewal, the second to replace the first because he didn't like the photo on it.
Issa also said he didn't recognize the composite sketch but wanted to send a copy of it to his mother to see if she knew the man. Christiansen said he found that unbelievable. The sketch was "absolutely dead right on the brother, and how anyone in the family could fail to recognize him I couldn't understand," he said in a phone interview.
In legal papers, prosecutor Donald Mulvey contended that "Darrell falsely reported the theft of his vehicle at a time when he was aware that (William) had sold the vehicle to the dealership." The prosecutor also said Darrell Issa had tried to mislead police about his brother's role in the theft.
Efforts to reach William Issa Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Issa told The Chronicle that he believed police had targeted him because "they always thought I was not coming clean enough essentially to (help them) prosecute my brother." He blamed his brother for the San Jose arrest.
He said he couldn't answer every question about the case because "it's been enough years that I don't remember any level of details like that." But he denied complicity in the crime, saying, "It is impossible to believe that anyone would be stupid enough to steal a car and sell it under their own name."
Issa said he never tried to conceal his San Jose arrest. He said his campaign managers had advised him not to discuss it unless he was asked about it.
The Cleveland arrest "came out in the first election, and I asked my own people, 'Should we tell them about the other one?' " Issa said. "They said, 'No, they'll bring it out.' "
In court, defense lawyer William McCrone argued that Issa's statements to police should be thrown out because he hadn't been given a Miranda warning.
The lawyer also wanted the case dismissed because he said Issa's right to a speedy trial had been violated. He said that while the case was stalled, Issa had left the Army and obtained a job with a "major oil company," which fired him when it learned of the theft allegation.
William Issa's attorney contended that no crime had been committed because Darrell Issa had offered to buy the Mercedes back from the dealership for more than the amount it had paid.
The court rejected the arguments. But in August 1980, when the case was called for trial, the DA's office chose not to proceed, Christiansen said .
"Most auto thefts are fairly easy, but this one is obviously a lot more involved," he said. He said he had persuaded the district attorney's office to re-file the case as a misdemeanor, but it was never prosecuted.
The San Jose case was the second time that Issa and his brother were allegedly involved in car theft.
In 1972 Issa, then 19, was indicted with his brother William on a charge of felony grand theft for allegedly stealing a red Maserati sports car from a car dealership in Cleveland, court records show.
The case was dropped. When the Los Angeles Times reported on it in a 1998 story, Issa told the newspaper he had been wrongly implicated because his brother William had an arrest record.
"I was exonerated of all wrongdoing. My brother went on to have a long and sordid career," he told the Times. "I am not my brother. I am not my brother's keeper."
In the third incident, a retired Army sergeant claimed that in 1971 Issa, then an enlisted man, had stolen a Dodge sedan from an Army post near Pittsburgh. The allegation was published in a 1998 story in the San Francisco Examiner. It quoted the retired sergeant as saying he had recovered the car after confronting Issa and threatening him. Issa denied the allegation, calling it reckless, the newspaper reported. No charges were filed.
When his opponent in the 2000 campaign for Congress raised the same auto-theft allegations, Issa denounced them as lies, according to press accounts.
Issa, who was re-elected to Congress last year, has emerged as a major player in state politics by becoming the main financial backer of the drive to recall Davis.
Issa founded Rescue California, a pro-recall organization, and has donated $1 million of his own money through Greene Properties, a real estate firm he owns with his wife.
The funds pay for a statewide network of professionals who aim to gather the needed 900,000 valid signatures to put the recall on the ballot.
Issa has launched his own campaign for governor and is campaigning around the state, while insisting the required number of signatures will be submitted to county registrars by mid-July.
If he makes his goal, the matter could go before the voters later this year.
But Issa said Tuesday he believed the accusations, though in the public record, had surfaced as an attempt to derail his political plans.
"I don't think this was fair game" on the part of his political opponents, he said, adding they were "looking for things other than legitimate policy issues to go after."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Party of War

So desperate are Republicans to overcome a huge gender gap among women that they will instantly seize any opening to drive a favorable story line and raise money.  But these tactical maneuvers are not going to change the uncertainty that even many Republicans feel toward their presumed presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.

For voters, one of the underlying concerns with Romney is trust.  He has shown a consistent pattern of changing positions on issues to gain support, or saying anything that he thinks will help him win, especially in negative campaign ads.  He will not let the facts get in his way.  

For instance, earlier this month Romney accused President Obama of waging a war on religion and even worse!  "I think in this country there is a war on religion.  I think there is a desire to establish a religion in America known as secularism.  And I know, based upon reports, that the Obama administration gave this a lot of thought."  Well this charge is patently false, according to senior White House advisers.   And it doesn't make any logical sense.
Romney is constantly spinning untruths about President Obama.  “I was disappointed in listening to the president as he’s saying, ‘Oh Republicans are waging a war on women.’” But President Obama never said that.   It was fabricated by the former governor, who then continued,  “The real war on women is being waged by the president’s failed economic policies.”  Right!  Candidate Romney has stated that 92% of the job losses under Obama have been among women.  This charge is misleading because it fails to count the millions of men who disproportionately lost their jobs in the last few months of the Bush presidency.
Distortion, negative campaigning and lies seem to be run of the mill for Governor Romney and his campaign.  His tactics and his campaign positions, including defunding Planned Parenthood, have so turned off women that their support of him is 19%  less than it is for President Obama in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.

It is because of this huge gender gap that Governor Romney and his campaign have been seizing every opportunity to strengthen his support among women by increasingly Ann Romney's role.  She has become his executive in charge of women.  Governor Romney recently spoke about his wife on the Fox News Channel, “And she points out that as she talks to women, they tell her that their number one concern is the economy.”

Comments like these are what Hilary Rosen was addressing on CNN when she clumsily stumbled into the "mommy war."  Rosen said, "What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that's what I am hearing.  Guess what?  His wife has actually never worked a day in her life."  Ouch Hilary!  Rosen continued, "She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and how do we worry - and why we worry about their future.  I think, yes, it's about these positions and, yes, I think there will be a war of words about the positions."

And a war of words there is!  The Romney campaign saw an opening and jumped on it.  "If you're a stay-at-home mom, the Democrats have a message for you: you've never worked a day in your life," Romney's senior campaign advisor Beth Myers wrote in a fundraising email titled "War on Moms."  No sooner had the Republicans begun their attack than the super sensitive Obama campaign tossed Rosen under the bus too!  President Obama, Michelle Obama, advisers David Axelrod and Jim Messina all made comments critical of Rosen, who was once a Democratic strategist and has visited the Obama White House more than 30 times.  

This dust up is representative of the hyperbolical, 24/7 media crazed era we live in today.  And it seems that Republicans all too often are prone to characterize conflicts and policy differences in terms of war.  For instance, Republicans accuse President Obama of waging "class warfare" against wealthy Americans because he has proposed increasing their tax rates.  

President Obama's support of the "Buffett rule,” which would have billionaires pay federal tax rates that are no less than their secretaries, has drawn extreme anger from conservatives.  As an example, on Thursday Romney adviser and former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu called it, “a class warfare agenda that President Obama seems to be embarking on in this campaign.”  Republicans would rather cut tax rates for upper income earners and pay for deficit reductions with cuts in government programs that help low and middle income earners.  This conservative fiscal strategy is known as "starve the beast." 

Republicans also claim that increasing the top tax rates will hurt many small businesses and slow the nation's recovery.  They call it a war on small business.   And when it comes to regulating businesses, Mitt Romney's election website is filled with "war-mongering."  "The Obama administration’s war on carbon dioxide—what Time magazine has called “the most far-reaching environmental regulatory scheme in American history”—is the highest-profile EPA effort."  And on energy the website says,  "As the Obama administration wages war against oil and coal, it has been spending billions of dollars on alternative energy forms and touting its creation of “green” jobs. But it seems to be operating more on faith than on fact-based economic calculation."

All this Republican talk of war is meant to deflect attention away from their number one problem: Mitt Romney.   It is also meant to energize and mobilize the party's base.  But conservatives see a flawed candidate--who has held dubious positions on health care reform, abortion and gun control.  So you can bet that Republican strategists are now busy behind closed doors feverishly drawing up their plans for Romney's 2012 campaign.  Of course, using an Etch a Sketch. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mike Wallace's Legacy

"What are the four most dreaded words in the English language?  Mike Wallace is here."  So read an ad that once hung on a wall in Mike's office, overlooking the Hudson River.   Mike commanded attention, whether seated quietly at his desk or gracefully walking the hollowed halls of the 60 Minute's offices on New York's West Side..

60 Minutes was a product of the late great Don Hewitt, its creator and tirelessly energetic executive producer.  He asked the late Harry Reasoner, a brilliant writer, and Mike Wallace, a demanding interviewer, to anchor the program.   60 Minutes is one of the greatest television programs of all time.  The broadcast has finished the season first in the television ratings five times, and it has finished among the season's top 10 programs 23 times.

Since its inception, its quality story-telling and fiercely competitive spirit has characterized 60 Minutes.  And working for the powerful 60 Minutes brand name over the years were legendary journalists like, Morley Safer, Ed Bradley, Diane Sawyer, Dan Rather, Andy Rooney, Lesley Stahl, Steve Kroft, as well as Harry Reasoner and Mike Wallace.

Mike was a perfect fit for 60 Minutes.  His no-nonsense approach to investigative journalism and take-no-prisoners interview style helped define the program in its early years.  He interviewed legends, movie stars and crooks with the same intensity.  He would say, "I'm just nosy."  But he was driven to be first with the story.

Mike was persistent, direct and brash when asking questions of his interview subjects.  In 1979, Mike asked the Ayatollah Khomeini, in an interview with the Iranian leader in Iran, to respond to being called a "lunatic" by then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.  The visibly angry Ayatollah responded that Sadat "Compromises with his enemies."

In his career, Mike interviewed Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush senior and Clinton.  He interviewed world leaders including Putin, Deng Xiaoping, Begin, Arafat and Meir.  He interviewed stars like, Streisand, Carson and Horowitz. He interviewed Reverend Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.  He once said, "There is no such thing as an indiscreet question." 

As a correspondent Mike was a fighter.  He would fight with his colleagues over a story assignment, he would loudly argue with Hewitt over the structure of his magazine piece, and he would push back hard at management when they wanted to change an adjective.   Most of the time good reason and common sense prevailed.  But no everyone he dealt with was a fan of his hard headed approach. 

In 1982, CBS aired a documentary, The Uncounted Enemy: A Viet Nam Deception.  The documentary alleged that U.S. Army General William Westmorland deliberately underestimated the enemy's troop strength to win American's continuing support for the war.  Westmorland sued Mike and CBS for $120 million.  During the bitter trial Mike was hospitalized for depression.  In the end, Westmorland settled the suit with CBS.

The fact is that beneath that tough exterior, Mike Wallace struggled with depression after the Westmorland trial.  Speaking of depression, he once said, "You fee lower than a snake's belly."  He first publicly admitted he attempted suicide in an interview with his friend and colleague Morley Safer. He credited his wife, Mary Wallace, with having saved his life.

Later he spoke out more freely about his struggles with depression in hopes of ending the stigma that is associated with mental illness.  He was honored by many leading mental health organizations, such as the Mental Health Association of New York City, for having the courage to go public so that others may learn.  

"For people who are contemplating suicide, contemplate, who are so damn scared and in pain and all of those things are true when you’re in a bad clinical depression." Mike once said in an interview on WLIW.  "Take a look at me, that what I’ve learned is that because I was saved I had 20 more years of very productive life."

Mike Wallace retired from 60 Minutes on March 14, 2006, nearly 38 years after he helped launch the program.  In June 2008 Mike's son Chris Wallace, anchor of Fox News Sunday, announced his father would not be returning to television; 68 years after he made his network radio debut on WXYZ Detroit.  During Mike's amazing career he won 21 Emmys, five DuPont-Columbia and five Peabody Awards.  He also won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 1996. And in 1991, he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.  

In 1997 Mike told People magazine, "Do I have regrets? No. What good would regrets do now? Would I do things differently? Yes, but I wasn't wise enough at the time. Life is full of decisions, isn't it? And I've made some of the right ones and some of the wrong ones, but I made the right choices for me. Now that may sound selfish, but that's being honest."

Thank you Mike for all your support, your advice and friendship.

More on Mike Wallace From CBS News
More in Newsday

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Romney's Veep-Stakes Are On!

Former Governor Mitt Romney is on the verge of sweeping this Tuesday's Republican primary elections.  Likely wins in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia will add significantly to his already commanding delegate lead, and increase pressure on his opponents to throw their support to the former Massachusetts Governor.

More leading Republicans are getting on the Romney bandwagon each day in hopes of ending the divisiveness that has characterized much of the Republican primary campaign so far.  Even after all of their harsh criticisms, former Senator Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have each said they will support Romney if he ends up getting the party's nomination. But they both, along with Representative Ron Paul, are still campaigning to be their party's standard-bearer. 

Rick Santorum shows no signs of easing up.  On Sunday, he compared Romney to Senator John McCain, who lost the 2008 election to President Barack Obama.  "We came up with someone who wasn't able to win," Santorum said on Fox News Sunday. "We don't need to repeat that again. We don't need to bail out and not have the best candidate to take Barack Obama on in the fall."  Santorum has accused Romney of not being a conservative; flip--flopping on many issues and of being the author of Romneycare, the blue print for the President's health care reform law.  Santorum insists he will present a stronger contrast in the general election.

Nonetheless, establishment Republicans have already turned their attention to who would be the best running mate for Romney.  Speculation has Florida Senator Marco Rubio as the best choice.  A Tea Party favorite, supporters believe Rubio could improve the Republican's chances among Hispanics.  Rubio is of Cuban heritage, but Cubans make up only a small percentage of the U.S. Hispanic population.  More than 60% of that population is Mexican, and they tend to vote for Democrats.

Another potential vice presidential candidate is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  Christie has campaigned hard for Romney, and his blunt, in-your-face style frequently outshines the former governor in joint appearances.  But voters in a presidential election don't vote for a president because of their running mate. That is up until now.

This election will rest heavily on Mitt Romney's ability to convince voters he is more qualified for the job than President Obama.  And that he has a better plan to increase employment, lower gasoline prices and assure America's national security.  Yet many of his proposals feel like déjà vu; the same Republican policies of cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans while ending some loopholes, more oil and gas drilling rather than developing alternatives, and a extremely hard-line foreign policy.  Or will he wipe his Etch A Sketch clean and redo his positions for the general election? 

The fact is Mitt Romney is an opportunist.  That is how he made his money in business.  And Mitt Romney is an elitist.  He is from the upper tier of the one-per centers.  His friends own football teams, they don’t play for them. He cannot easily connect with regular people; he's a Mittbot.  So he is prone to make comments that most normal people consider gaffs.

Who can forget this Romney gem last August from Iowa: "Corporations are people, my friend… of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People's pockets. Human beings, my friend."  Or this heart-warming comment two months ago, "I like being able to fire people who provide services to me."  And about the same time, "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there."

Several times over these past few months he has tried very hard to sound like an Average Joe.  “There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip,” he said earlier this year to some volunteers.  Or his attempt to feel empathy for a group of unemployed,  "I should tell my story. I'm also unemployed."  Romney is worth more than $200 million.   And the truth surfaced when speaking in Michigan in February, "[My wife] drives a couple of Cadillacs."  Of course, who can forget the $10,000 bet offer to Texas Governor Rick Perry during a Republican debate in December?

Given Romney's difficulty in winning over voters from his own party, the lack of enthusiasm for him among evangelicals, conservatives and members of the Tea Party, his numerous flip-flops, Romneycare, and his propensity to make gaffs, he will need all the help he can get to win over the national electorate.  Help may come if the economy gets worse, gas prices continue to rise or if there is some national security setback for President Obama before the November election.  

More likely, Romney will look to a strong running mate who can fill in the many shortcomings he has as a candidate.   And that person will become the party's frontrunner in 2016 should President Obama win reelection in November.  Even if a twice beaten Mitt Romney decides to make a third run at the White House.