Posted by | September 14, 2011 10:37 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

In watching the Republican debate on Monday night, I received an impression of Governor Romney that I’ve never had before.  He looked (ow, this hurts me to type) presidential.  Upon thinking about it, I started to wonder if the exit of Governor Pawlenty and the entrance of Governor Perry into the race has helped Romney.  Four reasons came to mind:

1. Romney now has the “electability” argument all to himself (except for Governor Huntsman, and wow did he look bad on Monday).  Whether or not he is more electable than Perry is not really relevant.  While Perry shores up the right wing, Romney can spend the next couple of months telling everyone he is best positioned to beat President Obama.  It also means Romney does not have to pretend to be more conservative than he really is as much.  And he is very bad at pretending.  He can just keep saying that no one else can win.  Electability is a powerful argument as Nate Silver has shown. It is particularly powerful with the Republican establishment.

2. Everyone else in the field (except for Huntsman again) is running from the right.  That means they need to attack Perry.  Bachmann, Santorum, and Paul all went hard after Perry on Monday night.  Every minute they spend attacking Perry is time they don’t spend attacking Romney.

3.  Eventually this race will be between Perry and Romney.  By that time, the attacks against Perry will be well tested and Romney will know which ones work the best.  If Romney continues to skate by, then it will be less clear where his weaknesses lie (except for health care, which is obvious).

4. And as for the general election, if Romney does get the nomination, he’s been handed an obvious vice president pick on a platter.  Governor Perry.

I’m not saying Romney is the favorite.  But he may actually be better off today than he was a month ago.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.