Vote 2012

The Iowa results

After Mitt Romney’s eight-vote victory over Rick Santorum in the Iowa Republican caucuses Tuesday night– not eight percent, eight votes— here are a few developments in the race for the GOP nomination for president:

–Michele Bachmann’s shtick turned out to have a limited appeal, as she finished in sixth place with five percent of the vote. She’s out of the race. Now if only a Democrat can defeat her for reelection to Congress…

–The other Rick (Perry), who finished fifth, tweeted:

“And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State. … Here we come South Carolina!!!”

The three exclamation points would seem to indicate that he’s serious about staying in the race, but clearly his campaign is not in good shape. Perry said, “South Carolina is a place where I feel very comfortable.” I’ll leave it to the good people of Iowa to decide what he meant by that, but I’ll simply note that when I campaigned in Iowa for Senator Paul Simon before the 1988 Democratic caucuses, I always felt very comfortable among the friendly folks there.

–Newt Gingrich, who finished fourth and was hurt by a barrage of negative TV ads funded by Romney supporters, has gone into full No-More-Mister-Nice-Guy mode, saying: “We’re going to be defining Romney out of the mainstream of the Republican party.”

Should be fun.

–The biggest surprise of Tuesday night was Santorum’s virtual tie with Romney (Ron Paul was a close third). He had been at the rear of the pack for months while other candidates briefly surged, then dropped back. Finally it was his turn to surge, and the timing was propitious. A couple of things to know about Santorum:

1. He is a former US senator from Pennsylvania. The reason he is a former senator is that his Democratic opponent in the 2006 election defeated him by 18 points.

2. He is a social conservative who believes states should have the power to outlaw not just abortion, but contraception.

Which brings us to Romney, who is almost certain to end up as the Republican candidate to challenge Barack Obama in November. I’ve posted before about how Romney– whose net worth is more than $200 millionhas a habit of pretending he’s in the same boat as more economically vulnerable Americans.

It happened again, as Alec MacGillis reported for The New Republic:

In Sioux City, he referred to his father, the CEO of American Motors and later governor of Michigan, as “a guy who made Ramblers,” as if George Romney was right there on the line. Likewise, when describing his “opportunity society,” he tries to place himself in the masses who enjoy the trickle-down benefits of success. “I believe in an America where…education, hard work , risk-taking and dreaming and maybe a little luck can produce extraordinary results and rewards which are generated not only for the people who achieve them but for the rest of us, who work for them,” he said in Sioux City. Rest of us??

If you come from a privileged background and you run for president you can:

–Not try to hide it and turn it to your advantage (as did FDR).

–Joke about it (as did JFK).

–Perfect a regular-guy persona (as did George W. Bush).

Romney’s problem is that not only does he remind people of “the guy who laid them off” (in Mike Huckabee’s memorable phrase from 2008), he was for many people the actual guy who laid them off.

And 75 percent of the Iowa caucus-goers wanted someone else.

Update: Ouch.

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