America: will Romney win by default?

As the choice for US voters progressively looks like being between the dangerous and the disappointing, Mitt might just squeeze through the gap.

There's a sparsely populated stretch of wetland in south eastern England called Romney Marsh. It is flat, low-lying and mostly below sea-level. Yet it has been praised beyond measure by those who love it, spawning numerous literary associations. “As Egypt was the gift of the Nile, this level tract ... has by the bounty of the sea been by degrees added to the land, so that I may not without reason call it the Gift of the Sea" wrote William Camden.

So it is in America, that a namesake with little apparent substance can harbour ambitions to his nation's highest office. Almost without justification, 64-year old Mitt Romney steadfastly believes in his ability to deliver to Americans the quality of leadership they so keenly desire. His political stances appear somewhat bereft of conviction as he vascillates on positions of social significance, foreign policy and tax. Yet The Economist's Lexington wrote of Mitt Romney's Republican candidacy: "The great flip-flopper does not convince the conservative base. He does not excite much of the wider electorate either. But he does not scare them. And with the economy the way it is, this may be all it takes to win the White House in 2012."

Lexington might prove correct. With Obama clearly having opted for social revolution rather than fiscal leadership and Romney's Republican rivals, like Rick Perry, demonstrating alarming tendencies, voters might prefer a less contentious or divisive alternative.

Mitt Romney might not have taken long-standing positions on matters of social importance, but his ability to alter stances to match public opinion mirrors David Cameron's ability to see U-Turns as strength. Matt Grist in The Guardian reported: "The latest volte-face on sentencing is fatal, claim the Tory right and Labour, but they don't understand the public like Cameron."

Perhaps Mitt Romney's presidency would result in a pragmatic if somewhat dull stewardship. As Obama inspired and enthused, delivering amazing rhetoric to beat Bush in 2008, so Mitt might muddle through and not create the waves which have battered Capitol Hill since Obama entered the White House.

It's unclear at this stage whether the Occupy Wall Street movement will achieve the prominence or success of the Anti-War Movement of 1960s America. But should it build a head of steam by the December 17 2012, a pragmatist rather than a protagonist might be better at placating the concerns of the baying masses.

However, Mitt Romney's antipathy to the closure of corporate tax loopholes might be the very stance which further inflames the anger of the protestors. He had better flip-flop on that concept too.

Of course, Mitt was the man who in 2007 thought it prudent to double the number of detainees at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. With that lack of appreciation of international opinion maybe it would be better if he were to emulate the eleven lost communities of Romney Marsh, and disappear almost without trace.

Clearly unperturbed by my comments, endorsements of Mitt roll in. No great shakes to speak of until now, with the likes of freshman Staten Island Representative and tea-party supporting Michael Grimm, his former borough president ex-Congressman Guy Molinari, former New Hampshire Governor Judd Gregg and New Hampshire State Senator Gary Lambert. But today incumbent New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is set to endorse Romney when they hold a joint press conference to make the announcement. 

Mitt's candidacy has taken off again after a lapse which saw Rick Perry assume front-running status. At a debate on the economy broadcast on Bloomberg, Romney ran rings round other Republican candidates. He was significantly more assertive and presidential than his opponents.

It appears Mitt's star is in the ascendant, but there's a long way to go before the Republican Convention next July.

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