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By Fareed Zakaria, CNN
It looks like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will win his party's nomination. So Republicans are following a familiar pattern: They are nominating the mainstream candidate who has waited his turn. The guy who ran once before. This is the party, after all, that had a Bush or a Dole on its ticket for about 20 years. It's also a party that nominated Richard Nixon on its presidential ticket 5 times. Republicans don't like surprises.
But there is something surprising about this primary. It's the charges that are working against Romney. Romney's opponents have tried to change his upward trend at two levels. First, they called him a "Massachusetts moderate" - but that didn't seem to work. People perhaps think that Romney is more electable in the general elections because he's more moderate than his opponents.
But a second line of attack does seem to be gaining traction - that of Romney as job-killer or Romney as the private equity guy, who buys companies, hollows them out and then outsources jobs.
Now it's striking that this attack is coming in a Republican presidential primary. After all, what Romney did while at Bain Capital was classic capitalist "creative destruction." He took over businesses and tried to make them more productive. To do so, he often had to shed jobs. In other companies - startups like Staples - he created jobs.
Republicans should be celebrating Romney's work as an example of how the market functions - driving out inefficiency, generating productivity and creating a lean, mean capitalist machine.
But something has changed in America. Even in the Republican Party, there is a huge concern about what globalization and technological change are doing to the average, middle-class American. There is a sense that the system is not working for the median American worker.
If you look at job creation over the last 20 years in America, you'll notice that we haven't been able to create any jobs in what is called the "tradable sector" of the economy - those jobs that are subject to global competition. The jobs we've created have almost entirely been in industries like health care, government and construction, which are basically local industries shielded from global competition. You can't outsource the building of a New York skyscraper to a Chinese worker. You can't outsource a nurse. The other great force coursing through the economy - technology - has created new companies but it's had a more mixed record in creating tens of thousands of new jobs.
Note this is not a partisan point. We've netted no new jobs in over 20 years. That's under Obama, under the Bush years with tax cuts, under Clinton with balanced budget and deregulation.
Most Americans sense that we are in a new world.
Romney's opponents are taking advantage of this anxiety in their attacks. But none of them really have answers to deal with this problem. Simply talking about cutting government spending isn't going to make American workers more competitive in the face of these challenges from technology and from globalization.
Hopefully during the general election, we'll have a real national debate about how to create jobs in America.
Read more of my thoughts on Romney in my recent blog post on the Global Public Square. For more of my thoughts throughout the week, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and to visit the Global Public Square every day. Be sure to catch GPS every Sunday at 10a.m. and 1p.m. EST. If you miss it, you can buy the show on iTunes.