(ABC News) -- At a fundraiser held right before the July 4 holiday, House Speaker John Boehner was asked by an attendee, “Can you make me love Mitt Romney?”
Boehner replied, “The American people probably aren’t going to fall in love with Mitt Romney. I’ll tell you this: 95 percent of the people that show up to vote in November are going to show up in that voting booth, and they are going to vote for or against Barack Obama.”
While it is true that Romney doesn’t have to be better liked than President Obama, he can’t be more disliked than the incumbent. And, there is evidence that the attacks Obama and his allies have leveled on the Massachusetts Governor have started to gain traction.
In states where President Obama and his allies have blanketed the airwaves with negative attacks, Romney has dropped in the polls and his negative ratings have gone up.
Boehner’s argument is similar to the one made by many Democrats about their 2004 nominee, Sen. John Kerry.
Like Romney, Kerry was not the first choice of the party faithful. And, Democrats back then, like Republicans now, worried that their nominee’s less than dynamic personality made it difficult for him to connect with voters. But many Democratic partisans were convinced that the country’s frustration with President George W. Bush and the Iraq war would be enough to turn them into Kerry voters.
Exit polling in 2004 showed that while the large majority of voters said their vote was mainly to support a candidate, 25 percent said they voted “mainly against” another candidate. Among that group, most cast their ballots for Kerry. Kerry, of course, lost that campaign to Bush by a narrow margin.
In politics anger is a more powerful motivator than love. Yet, Americans seem to be more comfortable casting a protest vote for their representative in Congress than the person who will serve as the leader of the free world.
This is why many of the GOP establishment, are arguing that Romney needs to be more than simply the anti-Obama.
Bill Kristol, a columnist for the Weekly Standard who has been a frequent Romney critic, told “Fox News Sunday,” “I don’t think you can beat an incumbent president, even if the economy is slow, if 27 percent of the voters think you as the challenger don’t have a clear plan for the economy.”
For more on this story, go to ABCNews.com.