As challengers who have unseated incumbent presidents are few and far between, unconvincing Republican front-runner Mitt Romney has seen his fair share of comparisons to recent losers. Romney and his campaign have been compared to Sen. Bob Dole, the 1996 Republican challenger to President Bill Clinton, the crushed 1984 Democratic nominee former Vice President Walter Mondale, as well as fellow Massachusetts statesman John Kerry, the most recent failed challenger to an incumbent president.
Still very much in the national political dialogue, Kerry can't stand the comparison.
At a lunch at New York Law School earlier in the month, Kerry said "I completely reject that" in regards to the comparison, and argued "I didn't have trouble connecting with [voters]." Kerry rambled on several more reasons why he believed the two were opposities, closing "It's like 180 degrees, night and day difference. It's a different Mitt Romney. It's Mitt Romney versus Mitt Romney."
As the idea seems to have a bit of staying power, former Kerry campaign spokesman David Wade attempted to squash the association in an op-ed in The Boston Herald Wednesday:
"John Kerry didn’t limp to the Democratic nomination. Nor did he struggle consolidating his base the way Romney has.
By the Iowa Jefferson-Jackson dinner in the fall of 2003, Kerry’s campaign had chosen a path to the nomination — the only conceivable path — that hinged on a strong performance in Iowa and banked on the fact that Kerry’s strong approval ratings among Democrats would then buoy his chances elsewhere.
That strategy proved successful. Kerry surged to win the Iowa caucuses by 6 points over his closet rival, John Edwards, who was himself surging on the crest of the all-important Des Moines Register endorsement. Moreover, Kerry topped presumptive Iowa frontrunner Vermont Gov. Howard Dean by 20 points and left Iowa with an approval rating of 77 percent among Democratic voters.
And Romney? Despite mounting his second consecutive Iowa campaign, Romney was edged out by a former Pennsylvania senator who’d lost his last statewide campaign by a whopping 19 points. "
"Kerry came within a whisper of the presidency, his goal just out of reach as the final Ohio vote count trickled in. His general election was marked by highs — polls showed him topping a wartime president in three high-stakes debates — and lows — most of all an insufficient response to the infamously deceptive Swift Boat Veterans for Truth television advertising.
All of this gets overlooked because we know too well that history is always written by the winners, and in a campaign’s autopsy the political class is tempted to look back and comb the earth for the earliest seeds of defeat.
But in comparing Kerry and Romney, any history other than the revisionist kind prove those seeds were not planted in Kerry’s victorious Iowa snow or his string of successive spring triumphs against Democratic rivals."
If Romney were to win the nomination, it's hard to deny the comparison of two rich guys from Massachusetts that the party base rejected or settled on, two perceived "flip-floppers," and two candidates that each have their roots in one of biggest issues to their respective parties at the time. Kerry, a former anti-war activist running to represent a party firmly opposed to the Iraq War. Romney, a successful financial executive before politics running to represent a party that believes the incumbent does not know how to fix the economy. On top of that, the brow-hair resemblance is hard to deny.
What do you think, are Romney and Kerry comparable presidential candidates? Will Romney suffer a similar defeat in November?