Mitt Romney became the latest candidate to formally join the crowded 2008 field of presidential contenders on Tuesday in Dearborn, Michigan. The former one term Massachusetts governor used his announcement to stress his message that he feels that America is at a crossroads, and it requires a leader such as him to pull it through. “I don’t believe Washington can be transformed by someone who has never tried doing such a thing before, in any setting, by someone who has never run a corner store, let alone the largest enterprise in the world,” he said.

Romney also took a shot at GOP frontrunner John McCain. “I don’t believe Washington can be transformed from within by lifetime politicians. There’ve been too many deals, too many favors, too many entanglements, and too little real world experience managing, guiding, leading.” He went on to say that the public has lost faith in their government, but yet, voiced his support of President Bush on the very issue that caused so many Americans to lose faith in their government, the Iraq war. These appear to be contradictory statements, and Romney is no stranger to contradictions.

Romney is a devout Mormon and unquestioned family man, but in his two previous political campaigns he said that he believed that abortion should be safe and legal. Now as a presidential candidate, Romney has come out as pro-life and says that he thinks Rowe v, Wade should be replaced with state abortion laws. In his last Senate campaign, Romney wrote a letter to a gay Republican group which promised them that he would be a stronger advocate for their rights than Sen. Kennedy, but now Romney says that he opposes gay marriage.

Romney is a very wealthy man, and an excellent fundraiser. He should have no problem raising the millions of dollars needed to be a serious candidate. Romney speaks the strong family first language of the social conservatives, but what is uncertain is whether or not these same voters will be able to over look the candidate’s contradictory statements on social issues, and his Mormon faith.

There is an interesting dynamic at work in both political parties right now. The long time party establishment in each seems to have picked a favorite candidate, Clinton for the Democrats and McCain for the Republicans.  However, the rank and file members of each party appear to distrust the frontrunners. These misgivings could create opportunities for candidates like Mitt Romney and John Edwards. The similarities between these two men can’t be overlooked. Both are wealthy, good in front of a TV camera, and say thing that appeal to their party’s base. The biggest similarity of all may be that both men are hoping that the frontrunners stumble, and that they can then ride a tide of grassroots momentum to the White House.

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