Mitt Romney is looking like the inevitable nominee, but there are still some elephants that have been lurking in the room since the start of his campaign. Alexander Burns of Politico runs down the issues threatening him:
- The Bain problem: So far, Romney's deflected attacks on his private equity past by vaguely equating them with attacks on free enterprise itself. That works for a GOP primary, but won't fly in the general election, given that Romney's entire message is that his private sector experience gives him job creation insight. Speaking of which…
- The improving economy: Unemployment is still quite high—but it's trending downward. If that keeps up, will Romney still have a message against President Obama?
- Republicans don't like him: Some strategists are likening him to Bob Dole, who lost in part because his party couldn't get excited about him. Low turnout in Iowa only amplifies those worries.
- The press will turn on him: Not, as Rush Limbaugh and some others have suggested, because it's a liberal plot, but because they won't be comparing him with the likes of Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann anymore. Expect the tone of coverage to turn less glowing, and soon.
- He's short on allies: The party's heavy hitters have seemed unusually reluctant to line up behind him. How many will put their own reputations on the line to go to bat for him when the going gets tough, and when he needs to earn money?
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