Republican Primaries: Close Race – OpEd


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By Polina Chernitsa

Republican nominee Mitt Romney has scored a narrow win in the pivotal state of Ohio in the Super Tuesday Republican presidential primaries. As the former Massachusetts governor is still to secure a clear lead in the presidential race, experts say that the manner in which the Republican campaign is being held only enhances the positions of the incumbent president. The Voice of Russia’s Polina Chernitsa reports.

Super Tuesday is pivotal for Republican primaries with 10 states casting their ballots simultaneously. The winner of the Super Tuesday race gets a majority of 419 votes. This Super Tuesday revealed two favorites – former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Senator representing Pennsylvania Rick Santorum. Ex Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich won in his home state Georgia which he had represented in Congress for 20 years. Even though Gingrich says that he is not dropping out of the presidential race, analysts no longer take his bid seriously. Gingrich might endorse one of the two favorites in the final stage of the race. Congressman Ron Paul suffered a bitter defeat in the Super Tuesday primaries taking none of the states.

According to tradition, the main battle unfolded for Ohio. All Republican candidates have to take Ohio before moving on. Mitt Romney’s victory in Ohio strengthens his positions. Valery Garbuzov of the Institute of US and Canada, comments.

“Romney’s victory in Ohio promises a lot. A candidate who secures Ohio, has the green light to proceed with his election campaign. Other candidates have practically no chances of overtaking him.”

Romney took Ohio with a 1 percent difference. This means that despite Romney’s winning five other Super Tuesday states – Idaho, Vermont, Virginia, Alaska and Massachusetts, he might face a vote of confidence at the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August. Romney’s main challenger Rick Santorum, who won Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota, told his supporters that he had scored victory despite the smear campaign from Romney’s headquarters. Romney’s campaign organizers also resorted to mud-slinging tactics to edge Republican Herman Cain out of the presidential race. Cain had to suspend his campaign after facing allegations of sexual misconduct. Sergei Oznobishchev of the Institute of Strategic Evaluation, believes that Romney’s smear tactics in relation to other Republican candidates will backfire on him.

“From the very outset, Romney’s campaign was based on constant accusations of other candidates. Now that he is on his own, he will have a hard time. He will have to offer something constructive in such areas as the economy, employment and banking.”

Mitt Romney’s personal qualities are yet another problem. Many of the so-called “undecided” voters are appalled at his cold manner. This has nothing to do with Romney’s $250mln wealth. After all, the Kennedy brothers could persuade a factory worker to vote for them. Romney is a different story, Sergei Oznobishchev says.

“What makes a candidate’s image apart from his program is a whole set of other features which add to his overall attractiveness. These are his manner of speaking, his looks, whether he feels confident and speaks with confidence. His program is of secondary importance. For many people, the program is but a background sound accompanying the speaker.”

According to experts, these primaries have become the most challenging and controversial in the Republican history. On top of that, this year they take longer than usual and will come to a close shortly before the Republican Convention in Florida. Thus, party bosses have little time for maneuver, analysts say. All this may play into the hands of Barack Obama, whose ratings were plummeting recently. According to February surveys, more than 52% of Americans back Obama, 43% are for Mitt Romney.


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