If somebody running in a state like South Carolina, with 10 percent unemployment, with median per capita income in the mid-30s, to say what he got from speeches — $370,000 — is not a lot, is like the George H.W. Bush at the checkout counter. Here’s a guy who’s not in touch. And that I think is a lot more serious [that] he pays the [15%] rate that is required by law for cap gains…. It’s not a major issue in the campaign, but anything, any anecdote, that supports a narrative, a preexisting stereotype, of a rich guy [who] is out of touch and looks a little stiff — who everybody agrees doesn’t have the common touch — I think hurts him.
That leaves Rick Santorum. I'm OK with that, if that's how it turns out. And I'm OK with Romney if he can survive -- there's worse things than having to defend how incredibly successful you were in the private sector against a President who has essentially never left school. But I can't help thinking that there is a list of Republicans out there who are thinking that they could have pulled this off if they'd just gotten in.
Mild update: Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard has a faux "exclusive" about a fictional Mitch Daniels' speech in response to the upcoming State of the Union address by Obama, in which Daniels announces dramatically that he is open to running for President. No sale. Not going to happen. Daniels got cold feet when we needed him, just as Tim Pawlenty chickened out when he lost the Iowa straw poll (to Michellle Bachmann, remember her?). It's too late. So, by my reckoning, it's either Romney or Santorum.