Note: This article is written to coincide with the scheduled visits to South Carolina of Ann Romney, wife of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Mrs. Romney's itinerary is at the end of this article.
If Mitt Romney ends up being the Republican nominee for president, he will have earned it.
In the spring, when he officially declared that he was running for president, Romney was immediately installed as the presumptive nominee.
But dating back to his 2008 candidacy, Romney has never been the preferred choice of the more conservative wing of the party. He has been criticized for the universal health plan he instituted while governor of Massachusetts and has been criticized as a flip-flopper on issues that are dear to many conservatives.
This time around, the lack of strong support among the GOP base has forced Romney to fend off a number of challengers to his status as frontrunner. First, there was Michele Bachmann. Then there was the significantly more moderate Jon Huntsman. Then there was . And, now rumors swirl about a potential Chris Christie entry into the race.
At present, Perry and Romney are polling at similar numbers nationally. Romney’s numbers have stayed reasonably consistent, , just as . among the moderates for whom Romney also a viable choice.
All of which raises the question of whether Romney is actually the frontrunner by default.
Then there is the question of .
For all the criticisms of Romney it is easy to forget . As a Republican, he was governor of an overwhelmingly liberal state. He also CEO of the triumphant 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
As a businessman, his first profession, he was wildly successful from a bottom line standpoint. While leading Bain Capital, he helped save faltering companies from financial doom. He often did so by shedding the bulk of employees for the sake of profit, making him very unpopular with moderates who lean left.
Romney has compiled a significant war chest and has the money to compete in as many states as he needs to. In New Hampshire, Romney appears to have a comfortable lead and the race is for second. In Iowa, he is a long shot because of the state’s prevalence of evangelical Christians, but he could potentially finish in the top three. In Nevada and Florida, Romney has a realistic chance to win and should finish no worse than second in either state.
Romney’s relationship with voters in South Carolina is still something of an open question. He hasn’t campaigned here since announcing his entry into the race, even though polls show him performing consistently in the top three. , but has not gotten out to meet voters.
Romney was endorsed in 2008 by Jim DeMint, a decision DeMint now says he regrets, qualifying his statement by not criticizing Romney directly with the admission that he endorsed too early.
For a time, there was speculation that Romney might pass on South Carolina altogether. That decision would have been a mistake, according to Danielle Vinson, the Political Science chair at Furman. “Since the primary is not winner-take-all, he could still acquire delegates without finishing first,” Vinson. “Also, just by being here he receives media coverage.”
Perry forced Romney’s hand when he shot to top of the polls in South Carolina after jumping into the race. Romney quickly received the prized . Loftis’ endorsement, if nothing else, put to rest the idea that Romney would forgo South Carolina.
With his wife schedule to appear at three stops in the state on Thursday and Friday, the Romney campaign would seem to be setting the stage for future visits by their candidate to the Palmetto State.
Ann Romney’s Schedule for Thursday and Friday:
Thursday, 10:15 a.m.
Westside Library on Oak Grove Road, Spartanburg (open to the public)
Thursday, 1:45 p.m.
Location: Simpsonville City Hall, 118 N.E. Main Street Simpsonville.
Friday, 9:10 a.m. Submits Primary Election Filing Form To South Carolina GOP
Location: The Summit Club, 20th Floor, 1301 Gervais Street, Columbia.