Nominee Romney. It took six years, 36 debates, epic organization and a small fortune, but it appears he will finally claim that title. The question is whether he is willing to learn from his experience.Read it all at the link.
Despite the GOP handwringing over the length of its contest, the primary did serve one purpose: competition. Competition, at its best, makes the last man standing stronger. And Mr. Romney's rivals—both in their successes and their failings—helped sharpen the contours of today's political landscape. Each one has had a lesson to offer him. Combined, they offer a blueprint to victory in the tougher competition against Barack Obama this fall.
The two candidates who might, oddly, provide the biggest takeaway are Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman. Their campaigns were short-lived, for the reason that voters did not understand their purpose. Politics is about vision, yet Mrs. Bachmann never got beyond appealing to "mothers," or Mr. Huntsman beyond ramblings about China.
President Obama has a vision for this country, even if it's not one to which most aware Americans would subscribe. Mr. Romney is adept at warning about this Obama view and insisting that his view is different. But what is it? The governor has been inching toward a vision, but its description has been long-winded, framed in overused phrases ("freedom" or "the American Dream"), and its substance lost amid 59-point plans. The biggest test ahead for Mr. Romney will be whether he can define a grand purpose for his presidency in a clear and compelling way.
For inspiration, he can look to Herman Cain. His lesson was that it isn't enough to talk about the economy; a winning candidate has to present big, bold, pro-growth solutions. Mr. Cain's 9-9-9 plan had flaws, but it appealed to Americans in its freshness and its daring. Mr. Romney dragged through much of the primary with the least inspiring tax plan of his competitors, though he improved it in February—with a 20% across-the-board cut in income tax rates. There's no reason he can't improve it more, say by also including an optional and clean flat tax.
Speaking of big and bold, he could also study Newt Gingrich. Mr. Romney is fond of poking Mr. Gingrich about moon colonies, but at least the former speaker has ideas. Voters were drawn by Mr. Gingrich's notions to replace the EPA, and he pulled out a Georgia victory in part on his vision for harnessing America's new energy boom. The way for Mr. Romney to prove he has a vision is to lead with innovative reform—on energy, taxes, education, entitlements, regulation.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry offered pointers on one way to enthuse an unconvinced base: states' rights...
I think the best thing will be for Romney to hone his case for improving the economy. A catchy 9-9-9 slogan might help, but with the economic numbers continuing to drag Obama down, it's James Carville's lesson from '92 that counts the most: "It's the economy, stupid."
Or, Rick Santorum's, Strassel suggests:
If Mr. Romney won't forcefully make the case that lower tax rates for all is what produces jobs and economic growth—but instead joins the president to beat up "the rich"—then Republicans are cooked. Mr. Santorum got that.That sounds about right.