Mitt Romney Wants to Be the GOP's Last Man Standing

The second-choice frontrunner is trying to make the most of Chris Christie's exit

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With Chris Christie out of the presidential race for sure, Mitt Romney is rushing to lock up Republican donors who were waiting on Christie's decision before picking a 2012 candidate. By Tuesday evening, Romney already had Home Depot founder Kenneth Langone on board. But a new Quinnipiac poll shows that among Republican voters, it's Herman Cain, not Romney, who benefits from Christie's absence. Romney is supposedly too northern, too moderate for the angry Republican base, with his past support for gay rights, abortion rights, and health care reform. But Chris Christie is also a Yankee known for his "support of some gun control measures, embrace of civil unions for gay couples, decision to minimize abortion as an issue and appointing of a Muslim activist to New Jersey's Superior Court," as Fox News' Chris Stirewalt wrote before Christie dropped out. The post was headlined -- with a bit of hope, it seems -- "Christie Candidacy Would Cripple Romney." What does Mitt Romney have to do to get Republicans to like him?

Here's one idea: start yelling at some teachers. The biggest difference between Christie and Romney is that there are popular YouTubes of Christie yelling at people, like the time he snarled at a teacher who angrily asked him about how budget cuts would affect her salary. Teachers unions have become to the right what Halliburton was for the left during the Bush administration -- the biggest symbol of greedy corrupt evil. The videos made Christie a "folk hero," the Boston Globe's Michael Levenson reports. Republican strategist Mark McKinnon told him, "What people are really looking for today is authenticity, and they like bold and brash, especially on the Republican side right now... That's why there was an initial attraction to Rick Perry. And Chris Christie is bold and brash." While Romney is wooing donors by saying he's the best pick to beat Obama, The New York TimesJeff Zeleny reports, Rick Perry better captures Christie's spirit, with his campaign arguing that he "could far better replicate the brash and populist appeal that Mr. Christie had with voters than Mr. Romney could."

NBC News' First Read says that, "This race is down to the idea of 'Romney as the most electable candidate' vs. 'is Romney conservative enough for the Republican electorate?'" New York's Jonathan Chait points to Cain's rise in national polls -- given that he doesn't seem to take his own candidacy seriously -- "can only be read as a cry of protest" from Republican voters. "I don't see how Republicans could be making this any more plain. They do not want to nominate Mitt Romney."  But  National Journal's Jim O'Sullivan reports that Romney's campaign figured out how to weather that a long time ago, and has survived the It Girl candidacies with short lifespans -- Trump, Bachmann, Perry and maybe Cain -- and with "three months before the first Republican nominating contests, Romney is now in a commanding position. The conservative opposition against him is splintered." There's no one left to get in. Former New Gingrich aide Rich Galen told him, "It's not a two-man race anymore. It's a one-man race."
To make Republican voters more comfortable with that, he needs to start yelling at people. After all, one of his most memorable moments from the campaign so far was at the Iowa State Fair, when someone asked him why corporations shouldn't pay more taxes. Romney said corporations were people, too. The video is the top search suggestion on YouTube.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.