A month ago I would have said absolutely, now I'm not so sure. Romney is, in my opinion, the most personally likable of the candidates, but in order to get the nomination, he has had to run to the right and at least sound more conservative on issues. This doesn't come across to voters in a credible fashion.
Even if he is able to pull this off successfully enough to win the nomination, he then has to try and run back to the center to compete against Obama in the general election. This is a tricky dance for anyone, and so far, Romney isn't placing his steps.
He has the most money, he has the delegate lead, he has the only real ground organization (besides Ron Paul, who can't win). So OK, he is the best of the current field, but he is also damaged at this point, and headed for a long, expensive nomination contest. I think that's a fatal wound for this election.
If being able to simplify things so that almost anyone with at least an 8th grade education can comprehend is the chief asset, Mr. Romney is the man. I agree with the above post that we need people who really "cut to the chase" such as Paul Ryan and Ron Paul, men who speak the truth without being politicos; however, the media selects its candidates as does the money. Besides, as in the movie "A Few Good Men," people "cannot handle the truth."
I believe that he can win the presidency for three reasons. First, he will appeal to many religious people, as he is a Mormon. There is a huge base of people here. Second, he does have experience in the corporate world. Even if we do not like people in business, we need them. Finally, as a governor of Massachusetts, he has been a centrist, which will directly challenge Obama.
I agree with the others who say that the definition of the word "best" here is crucial. He may not be the "best" in the sense of being the truest believer in the kind of values associated, say, with Ronald Reagan, but he is probably the "best" in terms of electability. A "better" Republican candidate on many different levels might have been Paul Ryan, but he chose not to run. I suspect Huckabee could have done well this year, but he also chose not to run.
It really depends on what you mean by "best." Is he the most electable of the current Republican candidates? Probably. He is quite moderate on social issues and represents someone who seems to know how to create jobs and run a business. If gas prices continue to go up and we can no longer fund unemployment, then that makes Romney even more electable. Does Romney best represent Republican ideals? That's where the answer to your question gets a little iffy. Is a modern Republican a conservative (socially and economically)? If so, then Romney will struggle with Republican voters somewhat. However, if a "true" Republican is more moderate and cares more about the economy than social issues such as abortion, Romney is most likely the better Republican candidate than more radical thinkers like Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.
Whether or not Romney is the "best" Republican candidate for the presidential nomination is an opinion, based upon the priorities and concerns each individual voter brings to the process of examining the stands and actions of the candidates. There is no one, all-encompassing, correct answer to your question.
Can he win the presidential election, assuming he is nominated? Of course the potential for a victory is there. Whether or not he does win depends upon a number of as-yet unknown factors: will he be nominated? what positions will the Republican platform actually put forth? how will he be perceived by the voters as being able to fulfill those positions? will Republican voters accept the positions of the platform and party? how will presumptive Democratic candidate Obama present and conduct his campaign? And, in my opinion possibly the most important and unknowable question of all - what world events will impact the economic and/or political security of the United States between now and election day and how will the candidates respond to that new situation?
I am a Democrat, but I believe Mitt Romney (and Ron Paul) are the best choices among the Republican field. For me, it's more of a case of the lesser of evils. I find Newt Gingrich most unacceptable, and he has proven before during his scandalous career that he is dishonest and can't be trusted. Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are poor excuses for Presidential candidates, lacking in experience, common sense, and moderate values that will only appeal to the most extreme right-wing voters. Can Romney beat Obama? He certainly has the best chance, but he still hasn't convinced his own Republican voters that he is the best man, and the GOP nomination is not his--yet.
It depends what you mean by the "best." Certainly he seems to be more of a moderate Republican than other candidates and is less extreme than some of the other presidential wannabees such as Michelle Bachman who have already left the race. Early indicators seem to point towards the fact that he might be able to unite the Republicans because of his moderate position on a variety of issues. This can only be a good thing in a two-party political contest.
I think he can definitely win the presidency because he is the candidate who ought to have the easiest time beating Obama. This is because he is much more moderate and can compete with Obama for centrist votes where Santorum probably can't.
However, Nate Silver had a piece the other day saying that Obama would have a clear strategy for winning by going populist against Romney, which would be impossible against Santorum. But I still think Romney's a more plausible general election candidate than Santorum.
The Republicans need to have a coherent message. Given the state of the country: record high number of people on food stamps, high unemployment and underemployment, expansion of government into areas of our lives (healthcare, diet, energy), failed stimulus plan, continual support of "green" companies with many going bankrupt and last, but definitely not least, the every-rising debt, one would think that Obama would be easy to beat. However, if the GOP does not have a strong message that resonants with the every day American, Obama will win again. Could Romney beat Obama? Sure. But given the fact that so many Americans are uninvolved and uninformed about what is going on regarding our country and our government, it's definitely not a sure thing.
I am decidedly not a Republican, but Romney seems to bring less baggage to the campaign than other candidates, and would perhaps be most palatable to the swing voters that pretty much decide every presidential election these days. The biggest liability he may have, other than a connection with corporate capitalism that is not exactly in vogue these days, is that he doesn't exactly mobilize the base of the party. I don't think that will hurt him all that much in the election, though. As to whether he can win the presidential election, I think he certainly could, and that he will run a tight race with President Obama.
Considering the field of cranks, hucksters, hired-men and delusional screw-balls, then yes, Romney is the best candidate. But that is a very shabby use of the adjective 'best'.
The republican field for the 2012 election should be a warning for all Americans that their system of democratic representation has been hijacked by a small but extremely determined group of ultra-conservatives.
One day, a talented, charismatic Santorum or Bachmann may appear... and then we will be on the road back to the pre-enlightenment in order to preserve the Bible's inaccuracy.
Do you want that?