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Mitt Romney's Big Problem — and Hence Ours

Edsall’s main point is that on core issues that must be addressed, Romney avoids making a choice. Instead, “he is trying to have it both ways.” Romney’s key problem is immigration, which “pits hard-core anti-immigration forces on the right” against Hispanic voters and the business wing of the Republican Party, which wants access to the services of low-wage workers. Romney needs all three groups to win.

Instead of deciding where he stands and taking a position, what he does, Edsall charges, is take the safe route -- that of equivocation. And for a nation that finally wants to elect a leader who will tackle the tough problems, equivocation is not a stance that voters will see as a good qualification for chief executive.

What I urge readers to do is go to Edsall’s article, and read Romney’s own words on the Sunday talk shows, as well as those of some of his spokesmen. There is no other way to describe them as anything but meaningless gobbledygook. Edsall says that pressed as Romney was by CBS newsman Bob Schieffer, he was “consistently evasive.” Reading Romney’s remarks, I’m afraid that I have to agree with Edsall’s judgement. Edsall quotes liberal commentators who we expect would mock Romney’s performance. But then he turns to conservative lawyer Mark Levin, who read Romney’s words on his radio talk show and asked: “This is the best he could do?”

Romney told Weekly Standard journalist Stephen Hayes that he believes conservatives will be with him “because they’re certainly not going to vote for Barack Obama.” True enough. But he needs to come closer to the inroads George W. Bush made with Hispanic voters, and win some back to the Republican ticket by reevaluating some of the harsh comments he made on immigration reform during the campaign. It might have been easier to do had Obama not co-opted Marco Rubio’s planned statement on immigration by a week or two. But since Obama did that, easily shoring up the Hispanic base by outright pandering, Romney has to come out with some alternative himself that addresses the issue in a way that Rubio was planning to do.

Edsall concludes: “A reluctance to take a stand is not an effective tool for building voter intensity.”  And when it comes to the Hispanic vote, Republicans are finding that their white base is declining while the Hispanic proportion of the electorate is growing. Without the votes of Hispanic voters in key swing states, their votes alone could doom Romney’s chances for winning. Edsall notes that Republican strategists all believe that Romney has to develop a more “pro-immigrant stance,” something that up to now he has been more than reluctant to do. Bush, he argues, advocated a liberal immigration policy and still maintained the support of socially conservative whites. And Edsall thinks Romney, up to now, has not shown that he has any growing support with low and middle-income whites -- the group that backed Bush and once were called Reagan Democrats.

The only hope is that the Court’s decision on ObamaCare could mobilize the base that, up to now, has been anything but enthusiastic for Mitt Romney. But within a few weeks, the electorate might go back to other issues of concern and forget about the Court and health care.

So for the above reasons, this voter is pessimistic about Romney’s chances in the November election if he continues his current strategy. I don’t believe, as some of my conservative friends do, that anyone can beat Obama. I hope that I’m wrong.

Update: 7 am EST

According to the polls discussed this morning by Mark Halperin on "Morning Joe," the latest poll in battleground states shows a big spread and advantage for Mitt Romney. The poll, however, added states favorable or leaning to Romney and described them as "battleground" states. Nevertheless, Halperin said that Obama cannot break above a 45% favorable rating in many of them, and that if this keeps up,  Obama cannot win in November!

Here is the link to the CNN poll.