This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," October 15, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report", another good week for Mitt Romney. Has the former Massachusetts governor got the GOP presidential nomination all wrapped up? Or is there an anti- Romney waiting in the wings?
Plus, the Obama jobs bill fails in the Senate. Where does it go from here?
All that, and Iran's terror plot. How should the U.S. respond to an assassination attempt on American soil?
Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report". I'm Paul Gigot.
Well, it was a good week for Mitt Romney. The GOP presidential hopeful turned in another solid debate performance in the all-important state of New Hampshire and he won the much-sought after endorsement of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. While the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed Businessman Herman Cain's star rising, it also shows Romney's biggest rival, so far, Texas Governor Rick Perry, continuing his fall. And, through it all, his support remains steady.
So, does the former Massachusetts governor have the nomination wrapped up? Or is there an anti-Romney waiting in the wings?
Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal editorial board member, Dorothy Rabinowitz; columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; and assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman.
So, Dorothy, we keep reading this week that Republicans are getting used to the idea that Mitt Romney is the inevitable nominee. Do you agree?
DOROTHY RABINOWITZ, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Yes, I do think they're getting used to it. But there is exactly what you said, these are all good questions. I don't think there's another anti-Romney who is going to transcend the current Romney. But this is like one of those old Hollywood movies of the 40's and 50's, there is this guy that you like, but you know you're not really in love with him.
And, in the end, after all of the travails, he's the one you want. I don't think that's going to happen. But what is going to happen --
GIGOT: Wait a minute. You don't think that --
RABINOWITZ: I don't think that people are going to suddenly decide we are passionately in love with this man. What they're going to decide is he can win and nobody else can win. And all the rest of this is nipping away at his heels. All of these warm-hearted people, like Herman Cain, who is a true figure of --
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST, DEPUTY EDITOR: Well, I would qualify this. I think that he's gaining support among professional politicians, like Chris Christies, insiders, and campaign contributors. These are the people engaged in the politics all the time. They've decided the only thing that is important is defeating Barack Obama.
HENNINGER: And this is the guy who looks like it. But I think out there across the broad Republican electorate, there is still a lot of anxiety. They are not enthusiastic. And if you pitch this down the road, if the idea is that, come next September or so that these people are supposed to fall in line, at the moment, the Republican base out there is not falling in line for anybody or any politician.
GIGOT: This is -- this is -- Dan makes a fascinating point because in all of the polls so far, Romney, despite the fact the he's been clearly the best performer in the debate, despite the fact he looks to be at least if you look at the merits, the best, most formidable candidate, rather, against Barack Obama, he can't crack 25, 30, 28 percent in the polls. He can't make the sale.
JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: No. I think those numbers tell you that voters, Republican voters do not want to settle for Romney. They're still looking to fall in love. And it's interesting that Wall Street Journal poll where Rick Perry has this enormous erosion over recent periods, but none of it goes to Mitt Romney. And it's basically --
GIGOT: They're looking for somebody else. They're all looking for somebody else.
FREEMAN: They're always looking for somebody else. And that's because they don't trust Mitt Romney to advance what are normally considered Republican principles, conservative principles. His signature achievement, Romney-care, despite what Chris Christie said, it is very close to Obama-care. It has the same architecture, it has the individual mandate, it has the exchanges that people are forced into to manage the business of insurance. So I think that this is going to be a continuing problem, is trying to get conservatives who vote in Republican primaries to accept the fact that the nominee this year is not a conservative.
RABINOWITZ: But the reason is going to have to prevail, you know? All of the alternatives that are warming their little hearts, that they're playing with, Herman Cain -- no, it can't be Herman Cain.
GIGOT: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Why not?
RABINOWITZ: Why not?
GIGOT: Why not?
RABINOWITZ: Because Herman Cain has had -- it's boring to repeat it -- no experience.
GIGOT: He's had a lot of business experience.
RABINOWITZ: He's had a lot of --
RABINOWITZ: He has never --
GIGOT: Real life experience as opposed to the Washington experience.
RABINOWITZ: Yes --
GIGOT: Isn't that what people want, is somebody who isn't in that hot tub?