The sentiment is shared by many Montana Republicans. At the annual Lincoln-Reagan day dinner in Billings earlier this year, which was very well-attended, a grand total of two people apparently raised their hands for Romney when keynote speaker Stephen Moore did a straw poll of attendees about support for the various leading GOP contenders.
He appears to be a good family man, and has favorably impressed GOP audiences in primary states in that regard, especially when compared to Guiliani, McCain, and Gingrich. It is telling that this year, even someone like Fred Thompson, who was divorced and remained single for 20 years before remarrying a few years ago, is a regular pillar of respectability compared to those three.
He also has a strong managerial background. If the Presidency were determined by a resume review, Romney would be selected by the board of directors as America's CEO. But he doesn't stand a chance against any of the leading Democratic contenders.
As the Gazette article points out, Montana won't have any effect on the nomination this season, but it is of course always good to have a presidential nominee bring some political attention to Montana. For that, Romney is to be commended.
Based on at least one on-line straw poll broken down by state, Fred Thompson has the strongest support in Montana of the leading contenders -- and based on general tendencies of Montana Republican voting, that is probably correct.
Romney has been good-natured about Thompson's entry into the race and has avoided giving any appearance of desperation, but he is the candidate most likely to be immediately put out of business by Thompson's entry into the race. Romney has been courting the GOP base, which hasn't been enthused about any of the candidates -- but the move has already been swift toward Thompson.
After it became clear that Thompson was getting in, there have reportedly been quiet expressions of buyer's regret by some GOP elected officials and party leaders who had already declared support for Romney.
But getting back to the Montana convention, the most important speaker at the conference is not going to be Romney. It is going to be Erik Iverson, the only announced candidate for state chairman. The party needs a fresh tone and a winning direction -- the basically conservative but quiet majority of the party is going to be quite interested in the tone Iverson sets and in the course he charts.