Even before the first debate, and with Romney only behind a point or two in several national polls, I was surprised to see this quote from a GOP operative:

If the Republican ticket loses in November, the rush by Mr. Ryan and other 2016 hopefuls to position themselves for the Iowa caucuses “is going to look like Best Buy the night after Thanksgiving,” said Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa. “I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him.”

The subtext is that many in the GOP find Romney really hard to like — in sharp contrast to McCain, or W, or even H.W. He won the nomination by financially battering weak opposition, not by persuading many people to really want him as president. The GOP’s Obama-hatred and the weak economy has kept the race very close, but quotes like this display some of the real underlying sentiments. Stench, geez.

As for the reason, I think someone who has made fortune buying up American companies and stripping them of their assets and work force probably comes off as fundamentally unlikeable, despite the handsome face.

Oh, my wife asked me whether anyone has made an issue of the fact that Romney and his five strapping sons have never served in the armed forces. No. And it shouldn’t be … but because his foreign policy chatter consists solely of paens to military strength and Bibi Netanyahu makes the idea at least somewhat tempting.