The biggest problem that Mitt Romney has is that the arguments in favor of his candidacy have been paper thin and largely circular.
He’s the “most electable” candidate because his supporters keep saying he’s the most electable. He’s “inevitable” because his supporters say he’s inevitable. “He’ll be conservative in office” despite governing as a moderate because his supporters say he’ll be conservative in office.
None of these arguments hold up under a bare minimum of scrutiny. Mitt has lost 2 of 3 major races he’s run so far (His record would have been 1-4 if he had run for governor again in 2006), he’s only won 1 out of 3 primaries up until this point despite having every advantage, he’s only pulling about 30% of the vote nationally, and there’s no reason at all to think that a guy who’s famous for shifting his positions would suddenly turn into Ronald Reagan once he gets into office.
Moreover, it’s hard not to notice the double standard that’s been going on during the primary. Every candidate in the field who pulls ahead of Mitt gets savaged by the mainstream media and his allies in the conservative press, while Mitt hasn’t even had a basic vetting. Furthermore, when Mitt bombed Newt into the ground with vicious negative ads in Iowa, despite the fact that Newt had been running a positive campaign, we were told, “Politics ain’t beanbag.” On the other hand, when the remaining candidates gave Mitt the same treatment he had dished out after New Hampshire, this was supposed to be some sort of unconscionable attack on capitalism that was hurting the guaranteed winner of the primaries. That’s horseflop.
Given that Ted Kennedy beat Mitt in 1994 with attacks on Bain Capital, how ridiculous is it that the most basic questions about his time there still hadn’t been brought up and perhaps worse yet, that Romney still doesn’t seem to have particularly good answers for some of those questions? We’re being assured that Bain will be a huge asset for Mitt during the general election, but if the issue was apparently damaging enough to help cost him a Republican primary in South Carolina, doesn’t that suggest it will resonate even more strongly with independents during the general election? Is the idea supposed to be that Mitt’s a surefire winner in the general as long as no one runs negative ads because although that might be true, it doesn’t seem very likely.
If you don’t buy into the argument that Mitt is the most electable candidate or that he’s inevitable, what does Mitt bring to the table? The only thing that comes to mind is his business experience and frankly, that didn’t seem to be a big difference-maker in Massachusetts, where he governed as a moderate, crafted Romneycare, and left office with an approval rating in the thirties.
On the other hand, Newt, for all of his flaws has some big strengths. He accomplished more for conservatives when he was in office than anyone other than Reagan and more than anyone else has since. Having someone who has proven that he knows how to get things done would make for a nice comparison to Obama, who doesn’t seem to have a clue how to do anything. Newt can also explain conservative principles in a way that Romney can’t, he can fire up conservatives, and he’s a proven fighter. Newt Gingrich will not be co-opted and cowed by the media, which is not something you can say about most Republicans in Congress and it’s certainly not something you can say about Mitt Romney.
Additionally, don’t we keep hearing that America is facing an existential crisis because of our debt? Aren’t we being told that we need to reform entitlements and cut spending NOW? Isn’t there a real danger that our country could default within 10 years unless something changes? If that’s the case, which candidate is more likely to stick to the status quo, Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich? Which candidate is likely to come up with the big ideas to solve our problems, Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich? Alternately, which candidate is more likely to maintain the status quo and sail the country right into an iceberg because he’s worried he might have to say some things that people don’t want to hear?
What it all comes down to is that it doesn’t matter if it’s “Mitt’s Romney’s turn” and a bunch of Republicans who’ve spent their entire adult lives in DC have decided he’s going to be coronated as the GOP nominee because they say so. Mitt Romney isn’t entitled to anything and although the GOP establishment may have decided he’s their guy, he hasn’t done anything of consequence that shows he’s a conservative or that he even gives a damn what grassroots conservatives think. We’ve run plenty of candidates like Mitt Romney before: John McCain, Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford — and we always hear the exact same siren song. “Sure they’re conservative! They’re also the most electable candidates! Trust us!”
How did those campaigns work out?
Aside from that, let’s just get it out in the open: Compassionate conservatism or worse just ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH ANYMORE. The country can’t continue to survive with a go-along-to-get-along GOP that’s intimidated by the press, grows government, and pays no attention to the “little people” in flyover country because OBVIOUSLY, Harriet Miers would make a great Supreme Court justice, amnesty is good for the Republican Party, and everybody “knows” that the National Endowment for the Arts needs more funding.
Until someone can, for the first time, make a good case that Mitt Romney is particularly electable or even explain why conservatives should actually want him in the White House more than Newt Gingrich, I see no reason for anyone to line up behind Mitt as the nominee. The money and the GOP establishment might not be on our side, but they weren’t on Reagan’s side either when he ran against Ford. The establishment made the wrong choice then and it cost the party an election. I think the GOP establishment is doing the same thing now and I hope the country doesn’t pay the price because the establishment is trying to force Mitt Romney on a Republican base that has made it extremely clear that it wants someone else as its nominee.