Yesterday, Rick Santorum dropped out of the race. Theoretically, that should help Newt Gingrich, but he has already been talking like his campaign is over and he’s bouncing a $500 check to Utah; so it’s hard to see how he could get it together and seriously challenge Mitt at this point. Of course, Ron Paul is still in the game, but he is also still Ron Paul, which means there’s not anything he can do to stop Mitt either. I’d have preferred for Santorum to stay in as long as possible in an attempt to force a brokered convention, which is exactly what you’d expect from the guy who co-founded Not Mitt Romney, but as the Rolling Stones say, “You can’t always get what you want.”
Since Mitt has now all but captured the nomination, I’ve had multiple people ask me, “So what do you think of Mitt now?”
The answer has been the same every time: the same thing I thought of him yesterday. I still think Mitt’s electability is a myth and a lot of conservatives are going to have to sell their souls to support Mitt (More than a few of them have already gotten started). There are a lot of conservatives who’ve put their reputations on the line to assure everyone that Mitt is actually very conservative — and extremely electable. Of course, some of those same people started doing CYA-backpedaling when it looked like Romney almost had the nomination locked up, which begs the question: If you don’t think Mitt is going to win, why were you working so hard to undermine all the other candidates and push Mitt in the first place?
At this late date, at a minimum, I’d still prefer Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and anybody who came out of a brokered convention over Mitt Romney. That’s because Mitt’s not a conservative, he was a mediocre governor, I don’t really know where he stands on any issue, and I think he is below average in electability. There’s not much of a point to continuing to hammer that message home after today since Mitt has it all but locked up, but it’s worth noting there were a lot of more conservative, more electable candidates in the race whom the GOP establishment helped to methodically beat down in order to clear a path for Romney.
Still, as Donald Rumsfeld might say, you go to war with the politician you have, not the politician you might wish to have — and I have always said, from day one, that if it came down to Mitt and Barack Obama, I’d prefer to have Romney in the White House.
That’s because for all of his faults, Romney would be a much better choice to lead the country than Barack Obama. Given how badly Obama has performed, Romney almost COULDN’T BE worse. At this point, I’m not sure the country could make it through four more years of Obama without doing so much damage that a default on our debt wouldn’t be all but unavoidable. Then there’s his arrogance and lack of respect for the rule of law, Supreme Court appointments, Obamacare, and a business community that’s ready to create jobs and increase productivity again, but is terrified Obama is going to cut it off at the knees. Even if Mitt did nothing but kill Obamacare (We hope!) and sit on his hands for four years, it would still be a tremendous boost for the country because the biggest problem we have with the economy is Barack Obama.
Can I sit here and tell you that I’m going to be an enthusiastic backer of Mitt Romney? Honestly, no. I never liked him very much to begin with and shoving aside the conservative base, cozying up to the establishment, and buying a victory with a sleazy scorched earth campaign against better qualified, more conservative nominees didn’t do much to endear him to anyone. I have no problem tearing into Obama or defending Mitt when the mainstream media inevitably smears him for the crime of being a threat to liberal interests, but I can’t pretend to be excited about the idea of seeing him in the White House.
On the other hand, my expectations for Mitt are so low that he could almost trip and fall over the bar. So, maybe he’ll be better than most conservatives expect him to be. Maybe, although I really, really, really doubt it, he was lying to everyone in Massachusetts as opposed to all of us and he’ll get elected and turn out to be some sort of northeastern Ronald Reagan in the White house.
Whatever the case may be, Obama is throwing the country off a cliff and when you’re plunging into a bottomless chasm, you can’t get too picky about which branch you grab on the way down.