All year, he was the nominal front-runner, the weak front-runner, the putative front-runner. On Wednesday, Mitt Romney stopped being the front-runner at all. “I’m just one of the guys running,” the former Massachusetts governor told reporters.
As Romney returned to the campaign trail this week, he faced a new reality: He is no longer ahead of the pack in the race for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.
A Gallup poll showed Texas governor Rick Perry with a sizable lead over Romney among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents nationally, 29% to 17%.Romney acknowledged that "Rick is a very effective candidate" but insisted that Perry’s presence in the race will not change the way he pursues the nomination.
“You’re going to try and find something that’s changed. I’ve got a dark shirt on today. It was a light shirt yesterday,” Romney quipped to reporters.
“Look, I’m following the strategy I’ve had and that we’ve laid out from the very beginning. If you’re running for president, your focus should be on the person who is president and his failures and how you’re going to make America better.”
As Democrats and Perry tried to stitch together a new narrative of him as a heartless hedge-fund titan, Romney sought to introduce himself to voters here as a warm and caring businessman.
Romney, who founded the private equity firm Bain Capital, repeatedly defended the corporate world but repeated his position that corporations are about people.