GOP presidential primary voters tend to prefer long-distance runners for their nominees. Successful candidates often have to run multiple times to win recognition from these discerning voters. Think Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr., Dole and McCain.
And those voters have a habit of picking candidates that win. They have nominated four two-term presidents since Franklin Roosevelt. The Democrats only have produced one in the last 70 years.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the type of sequential front-runner that GOP primary voters usually turn to for their presidential nominees. They like guys who have run before, lost, stayed engaged, paid their dues on the rubber-chicken circuit, and demonstrated credibility as marathon runners.
But Romney is on the wrong side of two of the toughest hot-button economic issues of our time: the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) that bailed out big banks and government-mandated health insurance. Those are two policy initiatives that GOP primary voters simply hate. It is usually not even worth having a discussion with them about it.
Romney went so far as to intervene in the Utah GOP caucus that threw out his friend Senator Robert Bennett last year because of his TARP vote and backing for a national health insurance plan. Bennett got wiped out in the caucus vote, and is now a former Senator.
It will be interesting to see if Romney can survive, much less thrive, being tied to those two policy controversies.