Everybody Hates Mitt

1198175224Famed lost-girl-finder Mitt Romney zig-zags across New Hampshire today for the last time before the Iowa caucuses, and he couldn’t be leaving the state quickly enough. Just days after the Concord Monitor eviscerated Romney as a “phony” candidate driven solely by “his own ambition,” and wondered aloud “if there’s anything at all at his core” (an anti-endorsement that some Granite Staters wishfully attributed to the Monitor’s wild anti-waterboarding streak), a second paper, the Manchester Union Leader, has keyed the doors of Romney’s campaign Benz.

But this, the Union Leader assures us, isn’t part of some liberal media conspiracy (is there any other kind?). The paper hits Romney for not just being an empty suit, but for being an empty suit that’s not sufficiently Reaganesque – probably the nastiest insult you could deal Romney at this particular five minutes of his political career.

The Union Leader endorsed John McCain weeks ago, but yesterday, it felt the need to reiterate that position, and gloat over the plastic governor’s recent freefall. Which is great. Really. More newspapers should be this gleefully vindictive:

There is a reason Mitt Romney has not received a single newspaper endorsement in New Hampshire. It’s the same reason his poll numbers are dropping. He has not been able to convince the people of this state that he’s the conservative he says he is…

Romney has all the advantages: money, organization, geographic proximity, statesman-like hair, etc. But he lacks something John McCain has in spades: conviction. Granite Staters want a candidate who will look them in the eye and tell them the truth. John McCain has done that day in and day out, never wavering, never faltering, never pandering. Mitt Romney has not. He has spoken his lines well, but the people can sense that the words are memorized, not heartfelt… In this primary, the more Mitt Romney speaks, the less believable he becomes.

Romney has hit back as best he can, taking to the lodge at Pat’s Peak to harass disinterested teenagers (“You a skier? You must be a boarder”), and announcing a new state leadership team (the press release touts the support of 40 legislators in a state that has as many state reps as it does cows).

How sunk is Romney in New Hampshire? It’s still a week and a half from primary day, and he’s already trying to spin the possible loss of a state in his backyard – a state where he owns a summer home – into a victory. As he has told the Union Leader, you don’t have to come in first to be a winner:

“People usually say there are three tickets out of Iowa and then there are two tickets out of New Hampshire. Everybody wants to win and I’d like to come in first. If I can’t come in first, then I’d like to come in second.” Expect that press release gloating about a three-way tie for third place any day now.