Last night’s GOP debate confirmed for many that Herman Cain is a contender. The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO took slices out of several candidates’ support, more for his ability to maintain an authoritative tone under attack than for the persuasiveness of his gimmicky 9-9-9 plan.
Mitt Romney stayed the course. But by playing it safe and dodging some questions, in the process doing little to allay conservatives’ concerns, Romney has ceded the declining support of a fading Rick Perry to Herman Cain, the favored “anyone but Romney” candidate of the moment.
Newt Gingrich is a new player in the mix, and is fast jockeying for serious VP consideration. His shrewd insight into Washington politics is now being used to criticize the workings of the capital, helping him to break further with his Congressional past. His fierce criticism of Ben Bernanke, Chris Dodd, and Barney Frank, in response to a question about the mortgage market crash, did much to make him more attractive to the Ron Paul and Gary Johnson crowd.
What Romney is now at risk of is a collapse of Perry support going to Cain – in total, fourteen points at play. Michele Bachmann’s points would likely go away from Romney as well.
No wonder the GOP establishment wants to move up the New Hampshire primary to December 6th! Mitt Romney needs a boost and he needs one fast to prevent being made to look like “just another candidate.” If that happens, Romney will be forced to engage and defend his record, instead of looking past others to Obama. Then it could potentially be downhill for Mitt, and not in Aspen on a pair of skis.