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Smell of Fear

It is unfortunate that some candidates in the Republican Nomination campaign decided to skip the upcoming Super Tuesday / CNN debate.

Real Clear Politics Link

Based on reports, three of the candidates (Romney, Santorum, and Paul) decided to drop out leading to its cancellation.

For Romney, his campaign is at risk for dissolution. Instead of front-runner, he is at risk to lose his state of birth, Michigan, where his father served as governor. For Romney, bowing out of this debate is frankly a pre-emptive defensive move. Dropping out of this debate AFTER losing Michigan would be a veritable surrender in the campaign. Participating in the debate AND LOSING having lost Michigan would equally signal his end. At this point, the Romney campaign is executing a strategy not unlike the "Prevent Defense" from football. For Romney's campaign, they appear to have decided to attempt to win the Republican nomination by outspending his opponents in a tidal wave of negative advertising. It is truly a strategy of attempting to build via destruction!

For Paul, neither Ohio nor Georgia were opportunities for his campaign. His best chance on Super Tuesday will be Virginia where only he and Romney are on the ballot. A debate which could lead to distillation and victory for any of the other three candidates would be a negative circumstance for the Paul campaign whose strategy is to simply continue for as long as possible gathering delegates and influence at the August convention. For Paul's campaign, it is not about winning, but continuing.

After Romney's and Paul's decisions to skip out, Santorum (now enjoying momentum in many states in advance of Super Tuesday) had little to gain from participation in the debate. If he wins Michigan (after his wins in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri), risking an event where he could lose his momentum would make little political sense. In Santorum's case, he is already competing against the coming advertising onslaught from Romney so meeting Gingrich on his strongest field, the debate stage, would provide little possible value.

Unfortunately, the decision is rooted in fear. Voters should take note as the eventual nominee will face in November a better financed, better organized Obama who does well in the debate format. Signs of fear today bode ill future for any of the three were they to become the Republican nominee.