Mitt Romney had always been the kinda-sorta GOP front-runner, but after this week he is the bona fide leader of the pack, writes Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal. "It was startling," she writes. "He stepped out from the blur." For starters, he gave a solid speech to launch his campaign, and a national poll actually had him ahead of Obama. Sarah Palin's bus tour didn't hurt, either. They were the only two getting coverage, "meaning a lot of Republicans got to think, 'Hmm, Palin or Romney—a trip to Crazytown or the man of sober mien.'"
One of the big knocks against Romney has been that he looks like an artificial "anchorman" kind of guy. "But this year he looks slightly older, maybe wiser, maybe a little more frayed than in 2008," writes Noonan. "Which is good. Since 2008 everyone else is more frayed, too." He even dared to defy the base by blaming humans for global warming. We've got a long way to go, and it's unclear yet whether Romney's infamous flip-flops on issues such as abortion will be considered "old news" by voters this time around, writes Noonan. As for Romneycare, that might actually help him in a general election—if he gets that far. (Read more Mitt Romney 2012 stories.)