Mitt Romney = Hillary Clinton?

A few weeks ago, I called Mitt Romney the 2012 version of John Kerry: both are wealthy Massachusetts politicians accused of flip-flopping and being too liberal. But I’m beginning to wonder if I was wrong, and Mitt Romney is actually more like Hillary Clinton.

Consider their similarities: Both Romney and Clinton gained reputations as efficient technicians. They were recognized as being capable of working across the aisle to advance their goals. Both also exuded an air of inevitability as presidential candidates: They raised enormous campaign warchests, had the backing of their party’s establishment, and were seen as the anointed candidate. In 2008, it was Hillary’s turn, just as 2012 is Mitt’s turn.

Both, however, also struggled to close the deal. Just over one year from the 2012 general election, and less than 10 weeks away from the first Republican primary in Iowa, Romney can’t garner more than 25 percent of his party’s vote. Clinton, at this time, seemed unstoppable, with 48 percent of Democrats backing her — and we know how that shook out.

At their core, both Romney and Clinton have likability problems. (Famously, at a debate, Barack Obama told Clinton, “You’re likable enough, Hillary.”) Both were upstaged by politicians with more charm — Clinton by Obama; Romney by Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and now Herman Cain. But at least Clinton had consolidated most of the Democrats behind her before the primaries; she went on to lose, but she was close. If Romney can’t budget more than a quarter of the GOP into his corner, is it really fair to call him the frontrunner anymore?