Perhaps because they don’t qualify as one of his many “home” states (Michigan, Massachusetts, California, New Hampshire, etc.), Mitt Romney has referred to upcoming primaries in Alabama, Mississippi, and Kansas as “an away game.”
This, of course, is both true and problematic. On one hand, Mitt Romney is in the unusual circumstance of being the likely Republican nominee who is also least liked among the GOP’s geographical stronghold. For many southerners, Romney’s analogy is probably a bit tepid; it’s not just an “away game” — it’s like the Dallas Cowboys traveling to Philly.
On the other hand, is it smart politics for Romney to acknowledge this?
One might think that it is — that Romney is wisely lowering expectations. But that’s not how I see it.
No American politician should consider any region of the country to be an “away game” — and even if he privately thinks it, he shouldn’t say it. In this regard, Romney is now essentially conceding you don’t like me, and I get that.
Of course, there are times when a politician concedes turf owned by a rival. But it’s not like Rick Santorum is from Alabama and Newt Gingrich is from Mississippi. Santorum, of course, is from Pennsylvania (or Virginia, depending), and Gingrich is only a marginal southerner, at best.
This isn’t about the south having a favorite son — it’s about the south repelling from what Newt Gingrich has aptly described as a “Massachusetts moderate.”