Although widely regarded as the Republican front-runner for president, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has yet to convince much of the GOP establishment that he's the one in 2012, according to an assessment by veteran Republican politico Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi.
With the first nominating contests less than three months away, Barbour said that prominent donors, grassroots activists, and GOP committee members are still on the fence because they “want to wait until they feel comfortable” with a candidate who has the best chance of beating President Obama.
Romney has built his campaign on the argument that he is the best candidate to take on Obama, and that he can appeal to Republican moderates and independents turned off by the more extreme views of most of his rivals.
Barbour made his comments to reporters after an event at the National Press Club in Washington, where he spoke in his capacity as policy chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Barbour said he won’t personally endorse a candidate this primary season, but that he plans to play an active role in the election. He has signed on to help raise money for American Crossroads, a political action committee headed by Karl Rove, former political adviser to President George W. Bush.
The Republican presidential candidates should keep their focus on Obama’s record, he said.
“If the election is about Barack Obama’s policies, Barack Obama is gonna lose,” the one-time presidential candidate said. He added that “anyone who talks about anything else” is missing the point.