Will Romney follow McCain or Reagan model?

With a “too close to call” outcome just past midnight in the critical and pivotal state of Ohio, who wins, who gets the headline, on Wednesday, after the “Super Tuesday” GOP poll results in the presidential primary in 10 states?  Before I defend my choice of headline let me report this.

There is no doubt that Newt Gingrich can earn the headline for being finished off – having no chance of winning now because he could only carry his home state of Georgia and did not even have the organization needed to put his name on the ballot in Virginia.

He can have the headline – Newt Done.  His only remaining role in the GOP contest is to stay in the race to siphon off enough votes from Rick Santorum so as to help Mitt Romney continue winning with 40% of the vote.

A second headline could be how Rick Santorum carried several of the 10 states and battled to a dead draw in the key battleground state of Ohio despite being outspent 12 to 1.  So his headline can be Santorum remains very credible candidate for President after Super Tuesday Wins

Another possible headline after tonight goes to Mitt Romney.  Slow and steady, he has the right to this headline: Romney Wins Majority of Super Tuesday Delegates.

Romney either finished in first or second more times than any of the other candidates in the 10 states of “Super Tuesday” to add to his preexisting delegate lead.  It does appear he will win a very narrow victory in Ohio – but a victory is a victory, he can say.

And the complaints that this is only because of his fundraising advantage skip the salient point: he earned that advantage with his head start and superior work while one other candidate – Newt Gingrich – was vacationing on a cruise ship and laughing at and denigrating his entire senior staff as they resigned in protest.

For those interested in Ron Paul, the unsurprising headline for him can be Ron Paul continues race after winning nothing once again.  Ron Paul still hasn’t said whether he will support a third party candidate against GOP nominee, which is certain to be one of the other three candidates.  Ron Paul’s followers continue to chant that there is no difference between the GOP and the Democrats, as their warm up act for leaving the GOP after its primary voters again reject them by a massive margin.

My own headline for super Tuesday is: Mitt Romney continues to ape John McCain.

McCain “won” primaries in 2008 by getting more victories with just 40% of the vote (or less) and by clearly demonstrating again and again, that he could not lock up the support of movement conservatives and Christian-right activists, all the way through to the convention.

McCain only changed the perception that he did not care about our issues when he put Sarah Palin on his ticket, which resulted in the one jump past Barack Obama in the public opinion polls of the entire campaign.

This campaign isn’t over.

But if does remain for Mitt Romney – as for John McCain four years ago – to demonstrate to conservatives that he is willing to carry their flag into battle against Barack Obama.

There is no doubt that conservatives and Christian-conservative activists will vote for Mitt Romney if he is the nominee against Barack Obama.  Over 90% of those polled said so – even if their first choice is not the winner they’d vote for the GOP nominee against Obama.  Most of the 10% or so who did NOT pledge (to pollsters) that they would vote for any of the candidates against Obama even if their choice did not win, were the Ron Paul voters.

But will it be a repeat of the last election where in the “blue” big cities such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, which Barack Obama carried in 2008 by an enormous margin – more vote turnout than in the past?  Will a Mitt Romney as the GOP nominee once again only earn in the “red state” parts of my own south-central Pennsylvania a sleepy turnout of his base, such as the 8% drop in vote turnout?

When people say “you folks have no where else to go” except Mitt Romney if he wins the nomination, they are ignoring history and repeating a tired old, false mantra.

While those who do bother to vote, will vote for a Romney or a McCain, the question is, will they bother to donate, work hard, and turn up at the voting booth?

The real headline of “Super Tuesday” is that “Not Romney” continues to dominate in the GOP primary elections, just as “Not McCain” was the winner of the 2008 GOP primaries.

Without a doubt, just like 60 to 70% of GOP primary voters, I’d prefer NOT ROMNEY.  And just like 70 to 80% of the GOP primary voters, I’d prefer NOT RON PAUL.

But I will happily vote for Santorum, Gingrich or Mitt Romney, as will over 90% of those who voted.  But without the active workers and donors, without a 100% voter turnout of conservative and conservative-Christian GOP voters, Mitt Romney as the nominee of the Republican Party will go the way of John McCain – defeat against a better funded, more focused Barack Obama.

I do believe that Mitt Romney can change that outcome at any time by how he appeals to Christian-conservatives.

I believe we can have a different outcome if he ignores the “friendly” advise from liberal commentators who (as always) say you run to the right in the GOP primary and then you move left (the word they use is “moderate”) for the general election.  Reagan ignored that “advise” and won.  McCain did that and lost.

Romney’s “we believe in America” slogan, his work ethic, his family values, his generally conservative approach, can be fine tuned in order to appeal better to dedicated conservatives and to the values voters.

Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are both proof of this.  They both overcame handicaps to emerge this year as articulate advocates with a strong appeal to values voters.  Both Santorum and Gingrich have disappointed us in the past.

Both of them have less than perfect ratings.  Both of them overcame that by how they conducted their campaign and how they articulated their views.  Listening to a Romney speech is far more appealing to us than any speech any of us have ever heard by Barack Obama.  Mitt Romney can do this too, if he wants to – he can stop worrying so much about what the liberals call “the center” – their euphemism for being more leftwing – and go with the Reagan-Right formula for victory.

I’m still a Rick Santorum voter and still urge support for Rick Santorum.  But my headline for today, with no clear cut winner emerging, is:  Will Romney follow the McCain or the Reagan model, after Super Tuesday?

Hanover Henry aka Pat Henry welcomes new friends on Facebook.

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