Long, Divisive White House Fight Is Sapping Republicans

Mitt Romney's narrow win in Michigan is unlikely to ease lingering doubts about his candidacy or head off the possibility of a long and divisive presidential nominating fight that is damaging Republican chances in November's general election.

The close result in Michigan at least temporarily returned Romney to his frontrunner status and averted an outbreak of panic among Republicans worried that staunch social conservative Rick Santorum could doom the party in the November election.

But Romney's struggle to narrowly capture the state where he was once a big favorite highlighted questions about his own inability to connect with voters, and simply shifts the fight down the road to a new round of battlegrounds in 10 "Super Tuesday" states next week.

[Romney's] struggles to connect with social conservatives in states like South Carolina, which he lost to rival Newt Gingrich, and with blue-collar Midwestern conservatives in places like Iowa, Missouri and Minnesota, where Santorum beat him, have raised doubts among senior Republicans about his strength against Obama in November.

But he will face questions about his general election viability against Obama until he can prove his appeal to conservatives and win a state in the South, the Republican general election stronghold.

"Until he figures out how to communicate with conservatives, he's going to have to keep fighting state by state and really having to slog it out to the nomination," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said.

Read more from John Whitesides at Reuters



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published this page in In The News 2012-02-29 07:00:00 -0500
Analysis & Political Strategy