After brutal New Hampshire primary, Mitt Wins, And Speaks

It's a good night for Mitt Romney. He won solidly (though not overwhelmingly), while Ron Paul appears to have exceeded my expectations -- which is fine with Romney, because it means candidates he might actually fear took third or worse. 

It certainly seems that Romney must now feel awfully confident about winning the nomination. But in addition, he now has a real chance to win South Carolina and Florida and end it without a long ugly fight.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago, in my "2012 - The Year Ahead In Mitt" feature, that Romney's New Hampshire primary victory speech was an important moment for him:

Tune in to see . . .whether Romney gives a great victory speech. Unlike Barack Obama, who used early election-night TV coverage to show the rest of the country what the fuss was all about, Romney's 2008 election-night speeches ranged from forgettable to painful. (On the other hand, John McCain's were excruciating, and he still won the nomination.)

His speech tonight was certainly not excrutiating, but I'd call it pretty forgettable. It was fine. But it was, start to finish, Obama-bashing. Some of it well done. But there was nothing personal in it at all -- nothing about his life, his history, his dreams, his disappointments, what motivates him... you know, the stuff that candidates include in big, introductory-type speeches to get people to like them. As human beings. 
It was the kind of Obama-bashing speech that plays well with partisan conservatives, but not with general-election swing voters. ("saving the soul of America"; "apppeasement strategy"; etc.) Which suggests that his audience was South Carolina primary voters. Which suggests that he's still stuck in that awkward phase I've suggested before, in which he's effectively, in the nation's eyes, entering the general election phase, but can't yet afford to switch out of primary-election mode.
It's probably the smart call -- use the over-the-top conservative rhetoric for a little longer, in hopes of ending the nomination fight early. Unless, of course, heand his team think that this is the right rhetoric for the general election, but I don't think they're that stupid.
Nevertheless, I still think he needs to start developing a personal storyline of some kind -- it won't be a working class tale like John Edwards's, or Rick Santorum's. which he told so well the night of the Iowa caucuses. (And BTW, did he leave that speech on the plane or something? 'Cus it didn't make it to New Hampshire, and it could have really helped him.)
But he needs to have something personal to give people. I expected him to do it tonight. No such luck.


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