Here's Power Line on Mitt Romney:
... Romney made a fundamental but understandable error in his approach to the campaign. Romney and his advisers decided, early on, to position him as the one plausible candidate who is conservative on all three of the basic issue clusters: economics, national defense, and the social issues. As such, he could claim the mantle as heir to the Reagan coalition. This was a natural and maybe inevitable choice, but I think it turned out to be wrong.He'd certainly be more appealing to people like me who want a strong national defense position, don't trust the Democrats on the economy, and are social liberals. The "plastic" taunt has never bothered me, because it meant he might be closer to what I thought than he appeared or at least pragmatic and accommodating on the social issues.
Romney's self-definition exposed him to ridicule because of the liberal positions he took on the social issues when he ran for Governor of Massachusetts. Romney's brain trust apparently thought they could avoid this problem, maybe because they underestimated the power of YouTube, more likely because they knew that Romney really is a social conservative and assumed he would be credible as such. Instead, he was typecast early on as a flip-flopper and a plastic candidate. That image has hurt him more than anything else.
My guess is that Romney's views on the social issues are similar to my own: he's a social conservative, but doesn't have much appetite for red-meat politics on abortion and gay marriage, and places much higher priority on the economy and national defense. With hindsight, I think there was a better way for Romney to position himself: as a conservative and supremely knowledgeable expert on the economy, as George Bush's heir as a vigorous defender of the U.S. in the war against Islamic terrorism, and as a person who is himself a social conservative--just take one look at his family portrait--but who doesn't talk much about those issues except in the context of the constitutional philosophy which will guide his appointment of judges. I think if he had followed this route, he would have been truer to himself and more credible to voters.
Power Line notes that the economy is Romney's strength:
I don't think Romney needs to do an about-face on the social issues. If he emphasizes his expertise in applying free-market solutions to economic problems, with strong national defense in a close second place, and if he couches whatever comments he makes on the social issues in terms of the only sphere where the President actually impacts them--the appointment of judges--he should be able to achieve a subtle shift in the way he presents himself to voters.Of course, he can accomplish a subtle shift. He's plastic:
plastic (adj.)Wouldn't some plasticity be good for a change?
1632, "capable of shaping or molding," from L. plasticus, from Gk. plastikos "able to be molded, pertaining to molding," from plastos "molded," from plassein "to mold" (see plasma). Surgical sense of "remedying a deficiency of structure" is first recorded 1839. The noun meaning "solid substance that can be molded" is attested from 1905, originally of dental molds (Plasticine, a trade name for a modeling clay substitute, is from 1897). Main modern meaning, "synthetic product made from oil derivatives," first recorded 1909, coined by Leo Baekeland (see bakelite). Picked up in counterculture slang as an adj. meaning "false, superficial" (1963).