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Cautioned campaign could cost Romney

Posted: December 13, 2011 2:17 p.m.
Updated: December 14, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Ann Romney may have given her husband Mitt the best campaign advice to this point in the race after Saturday’s debate in Iowa.

‘There are a lot of things you do well,” she said, “but betting isn’t one of them.”

It was a line that not only resonated with Mr. Romney’s $10,000 wager with another candidate that night, but really his entire election strategy so far.

By now, Mitt was supposed to have the poll numbers working in his favor. But a resurgent Newt Gingrich has thrown Romney’s inevitability as the nominee greatly out of whack.

The early favorite in the race decided to sit back and play it safe. Before Newt rose to the top of the polls, it was a game plan that was working fairly well.

Virtually every candidate who threw his or her hat into the ring tried to paint himself or herself as the “anti-Romney” candidate.

For awhile, that seemed to work as well. Michele Bachmann, then Herman Cain, then Rick Perry all had their moment in the sun. But seemingly as soon as they made their mark, their hopes were dashed by flubs and gaffes. 

Now it is Romney who may be hoping he had gotten the kinks out of his campaign early on.

Last week, the former Massachusetts governor decided to get out of his comfort zone and start doing national TV interviews.

Instead of cementing his status as a front-runner, he went on FOX News and largely appeared irritated during an interview with Bret Baier. The candidate later called the anchor’s questioning “overly aggressive.”

In Saturday’s Des Moines debate, he again looked annoyed after being criticized by Texas Gov. Rick Perry over his stance on national health care.

Offering Perry a $10,000 wager to prove him wrong, Romney was quickly portrayed in the media as being out of touch with most voters despite the fact that he would have won the bet.

Perhaps it was a justified description, particularly for a man who has a net worth of $200 million. But compared to the blunders of the other candidates, it’s a comment that seems to have been blown of proportion.

Mr. Romney didn’t analyze the Chinese nuclear capabilities as if it were 1965 like former presidential candidate Herman Cain. He didn’t forget the name of the third agency he would try to cut like Rick Perry. He didn’t say the Revolutionary War started in New Hampshire like Michele Bachmann. And he didn’t say that Palestine was an imaginary state like Newt Gingrich.  

It seems at times Romney is held to a higher standard than the other candidates. Maybe it’s because he has run for president before or maybe it’s because of his squeaky clean image. But for some reason, voters and the media expect more from him.

A quick glimpse of the headlines shows just how different our view of Romney really is. For example, Cain grabbed national attention after it was reported that he was accused of sexually harassing women. Gingrich has drawn concern from Republican voters after he divorced his first two wives only to settle down with a much younger woman.

What Romney indiscretion garnered headlines? In an interview with People Magazine last month, he admitted that as a “wayward teenager” he sipped a beer once and smoked a cigarette. 

But Romney’s cautious mentality may help him eventually be the last man standing in the Republican primaries. Right now, early polls show Republicans favor Gingrich’s brash attitude as the front-runner. Faced with a las- minute choice at the ballot box, however, the odds may just be in Romney’s favor, especially if voters believe he has the best shot at making Obama a one-term president.

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