Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mitt Romney Announces He's Running for President

Mitt Romney's presidential run became official today. When Elephant Watcher began analyzing the 2012 Republican primary back in April, six candidates had presidential exploratory committees, and six candidates were in the "potentially running" category. As you can see from the Campaign Status page, five of the six with presidential exploratory committees have now become official candidates (the odd man out is Rick Santorum, who has yet to make a declaration). Of the six who were classified as "potentially running," four have declared they will not enter the race. No one has entered the race without first forming an exploratory committee.

That doesn't mean there will be no exceptions to the rule. In an earlier post, we noted that some candidates have good reason for their inactivity thus far: Chris Christie will pursue a late entrant strategy, Michele Bachmann has been waiting for Sarah Palin to announce one way or the other, and Jon Huntsman, Jr. only just arrived back from his Ambassador post in China. Sarah Palin is the exception: She has not made any formal moves toward running, and she has no compelling reason for this delay--unless she's not running.

In any event, Romney has entered the race and will likely attend the primary debate coming up on June 13th. He has a lot of work to do. He will come under heavy fire for ineffectually defending Romneycare. Romney's debate performance will be a good indication of how badly his strategy will hurt him. Romney will need to use every bit of his verbal gymnastic skill to get out of the debate without being laughed at by the audience.

Though pundits will declare Romney is the current frontrunner, things aren't as easy as they may appear. Mike Huckabee's withdrawal removes one big obstacle from the race, but the threat posed by Tim Pawlenty may be even greater. The Republican establishment was never willing to embrace Huckabee, but they might go over to Pawlenty's camp if they're dissatisfied with Romney. If Pawlenty wins Iowa, there's no real reason for them to rally around Romney.

It's likely that Romney and Pawlenty will engage in an "alpha male" competition to see who can appear tougher. Romney will flex his financial muscles (as he has before). But to begin with, Romney and Pawlenty will see who can attack President Obama the most. Then, they will start attacking each other.

News posts related to Romney will have the Romney "tag". For detailed assessment of Romney's strengths, weaknesses, and strategy, view his Profile. Elephant Watcher calculates Romney has a 10% chance of winning the nomination.