Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

December 7, 2012

Missing the indispensable Republican man

President Obama's re-election victory has been sliced and dissected relentlessly since Nov. 6 and as I analyzed earlier, part of it came down to the "female vote" and another centered on the various Republican demographic and personality dilemmas.

Washington Post columnist George Will observed: "The election's outcome was foreshadowed by Mitt Romney struggling as long as he did to surmount a notably weak field of Republican rivals. His salient deficiency was not of character but of chemistry, that indefinable something suggested by the term empathy."

Will went on to say that "the person who should have been the Republican nominee" - Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels - had in February 2011 "laconically warned conservatives about a prerequisite for persuading people to make painful adjustments to a rickety entitlement state."

Daniels had told a CPAC audience, "A more affirmative, 'better angels' approach to voters is really less an aesthetic than a practical one. With apologies for the banality, I submit that, as we ask Americans to join us on such a boldly different course, it would help if they liked us, just a bit."

Will, who had introduced Daniels for that speech by observing "never has there been a higher ratio between mind and mass" in one public servant, would call Romney "a diligent warrior" but added, "Next time, Republicans need a more likable one."

I'm going to assert a different angle here: Obama won and Romney lost on the female vote, in one inconspicuous setting in Carmel. By a 75 percent to 25 percent margin, Gov. Daniels lost the Daniels family female caucus. It may have cost Republicans the presidency.

President Obama's biggest threat, I believe, was Daniels.

Mitt Romney tried to become something he really wasn't, which was a true believing conservative. He had to churn into a variety of contortions during the Republican primary sequence and it left him damaged in the eyes of independents and moderates who tend to settle elections.

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