by John Hawkins | December 27, 2011 6:59 am
Mitt Romney was a moderate governor in Massachusetts with an unimpressive record of governance. He left office with an approval rating in the thirties and his signature achievement, Romneycare, was a Hurricane Katrina style disaster for the state. Since that’s the case, it’s fair to ask what a Republican who’s not conservative and can’t even carry his own state brings to the table for GOP primary voters. The answer is always the same: Mitt Romney is supposed to be “the most electable” candidate. This is a baffling argument because many people just seem to assume it’s true, despite the plethora of evidence to the contrary.
1) People just don’t like Mitt: The entire GOP primary process so far has consisted of Republican voters desperately trying to find an alternative to Mitt Romney. Doesn’t it say something that GOP primary voters have, at one time or another, preferred Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and now even Ron Paul (In Iowa) to Mitt Romney?
To some people, this is a plus. They think that if conservatives don’t like Mitt Romney, that means moderates will like him. This misunderstands how the process of attracting independent voters works in a presidential race. While it’s true the swayable moderates don’t want to support a candidate they view as an extremist, they also don’t just automatically gravitate towards the most “moderate” candidate. To the contrary, independent voters tend to be moved by the excitement of the candidate’s base (See John McCain vs. Barack Obama for an example of how this works). This is how a very conservative candidate like Ronald Reagan could win landslide victories. He avoided being labeled an extremist as Goldwater was; yet his supporters were incredibly enthusiastic and moderates responded to it.
Let’s be perfectly honest: Mitt Romney excites no one except for Mormons, political consultants, and Jennifer Rubin. To everybody else on the right, Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama would be a “lesser of two evils” election where we’d grudgingly back Mitt because we wouldn’t lose as badly with him in the White House as we would with Obama. That’s not the sort of thing that gets people fired up to make phone calls, canvass neighborhoods, or even put up “I heart Mitt” signs in their yards.
2) He’s a proven political loser: There’s a reason Mitt Romney has been able to say that he’s “not a career politician.” It’s because he’s not very good at politics. He lost to Ted Kennedy in 1994. Although he did win the governorship of Massachusetts in 2002, he did it without cracking 50% of the vote. Worse yet, he left office as the 48th most popular governor in America and would have lost if he had run again in 2006. Then, to top that off, he failed to capture the GOP nomination in 2008. This time around, despite having almost every advantage over what many people consider to be a weak field of candidates, Romney is still desperately struggling. Choosing Romney as the GOP nominee after running up that sort of track record would be like promoting a first baseman hitting .225 in AAA to the majors.
3) Running weak in the southern states: Barack Obama won North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida in 2008 and you can be sure that he will be targeting all three of those states again. This is a problem for Romney because he would be much less likely than either Gingrich or Perry to carry any of those states. Moderate northern Republicans have consistently performed poorly in the south and Romney won’t be any exception. That was certainly the case in 2008 when both McCain and Huckabee dominated Romney in primaries across the south. Mitt didn’t win a single primary in a southern state and although he finished second in Florida, he wasn’t even competitive in North Carolina or Virginia. Since losing any one of those states could be enough to hand the election to Obama in a close race, Mitt’s weakness there is no small matter.
4) His advantages disappear in a general election: It’s actually amazing that Mitt Romney isn’t lapping the whole field by 50 points because he has every advantage. Mitt has been running for President longer than the other contenders. He has more money and a better organization than the other candidates. The party establishment and inside the beltway media are firmly in his corner. That’s why the other nominees have been absolutely savaged while Romney, like John McCain before him, has been allowed to skate through the primaries without receiving serious scrutiny.
Yet, every one of those advantages disappears if he becomes the nominee. Suddenly Obama will be the more experienced candidate in the race for the presidency. He will also have more money and a better organization than Mitt. Moreover, in a general election, the establishment and beltway media will be aligned against Romney, not for him. Suddenly, Romney will go from getting a free pass to being public enemy #1 for the entire mainstream media.
If you took all those advantages away from Romney in the GOP primary, he’d be fighting with Jon Huntsman to stay out of last place. So, what happens when he’s the nominee and suddenly, all the pillars that have barely kept him propped up in SECOND place so far are suddenly removed? It may not be pretty.
5) Bain Capital: Mitt Romney became rich working for Bain Capital. This has been a plus for Romney in the Republican primaries where the grassroots tend to be dominated by people who love capitalism and the free market. However, in a year when Obama will be running a populist campaign and Occupy Wall Street is demonizing the “1%,” Mitt Romney will be a TAILOR MADE villain for them. Did you know that Bain Capital gutted companies and made a lot of money, in part, by laying off a lot of poor and middle class Americans? Do you know that Bain Capital got a federal bailout and Mitt Romney made lots of money off of it?
“The way the company was rescued was with a federal bailout of $10 million,” the ad says. “The rest of us had to absorb the loss … Romney? He and others made $4 million in this deal. … Mitt Romney: Maybe he’s just against government when it helps working men and women.”
The facts of the Bain & Co. turnaround are a little more complicated, but a Boston Globe report from 1994 confirms that Bain saw several million dollars in loans forgiven by the FDIC, which had taken over Bain’s failed creditor, the Bank of New England.
Did you know Ted Kennedy beat Romney in 1994 by hammering Mitt relentlessly on his time at Bain Capital? No wonder. The ads write themselves.
Imagine pictures of dilapidated, long since closed factories. They trot out scruffy looking workers talking about how bad life has been since Mitt Romney crushed their dreams and cost them their jobs. Then they show a clip of Mitt making his $10,000 bet and posing with money in his clothes. All Mitt needs is a monocle and a sniveling Waylon Smithers type character to follow him around shining his shoes to make him into the prototypical bad guy the Democrats are trying to create.
Now, the point of this isn’t to say that what Mitt did at Bain Capital was dishonorable. It certainly wasn’t. To the contrary, as a conservative, I find his work in the private sector to be just about the only thing he has going for him. But, people should realize that in a general election, Mitt’s time at Bain Capital will probably end up being somewhere between a small asset and a large liability, depending on which side does a better job of defining it.
6) The Mormon Factor: This is a sensitive topic; so I am going to handle it much, much more gently than Hollywood and the mainstream media will if Mitt gets the nomination. Mormons do believe in Jesus Christ, the Mormon Church does a lot of good work, the ones I’ve met seem to be good people, and two of my best friends are Mormons. That being said, Mormons are not considered to be a mainstream Christian religion in large swathes of the country. There will be Protestants who will have deep reservations about voting a Mormon into the White House because they’ll be afraid it will help promote what they believe to be a false religion. There have also been a number of polls that show that significant numbers of Americans won’t vote for a Mormon as President.
Just look at a couple of the more recent polls and consider how much of an impact this issue could have in a close election.
The poll found 67 percent of Americans want the president to be Christian and 52 percent said they consider Mormons to be Christian. Twenty-two percent of those polled said they don’t think Mormons are Christians and 26 percent are unsure.
“I do believe they are moral people, but again there is a difference between being moral and being saved,” Linda Dameron, an evangelical Republican in Independence, Mo., told the Tribune.
More than 40 percent of Americans would be uncomfortable with a Mormon as president, according to a new survey that also suggests that as more white evangelical voters have learned White House hopeful Mitt Romney is Mormon, the less they like him.
A survey by the Public Religion Research Institute released late Monday also shows that nearly half of white evangelical Protestant voters – a key demographic in the Republican primary race – don’t believe that Mormonism is a Christian faith, and about two-thirds of adults say the LDS faith is somewhat or very different than their own.
You should also keep in mind that if Mitt Romney gets the nomination, Hollywood and the mainstream media will conduct a vicious, months’ long hate campaign against the Mormon Church. They will take every opportunity to make Mormons look weird, racist, kooky, scary, and different. Would this be a decisive factor? I’d like to say no, but by the time all is said and done, it’s very easy to see Romney potentially losing hundreds of thousands of votes across the country because of his religion.
7) He’s a flip-flopper. Maybe my memory is failing me, but didn’t George Bush beat John Kerry’s brains in with the “flip flopper” charge back in 2004? So now, just eight years later, the GOP is going to run someone that even our own side agrees is a flip-flopper right out of the gate? Romney doesn’t even handle the charge well. When Brett Baier at Fox pointed out the obvious, Romney’s response was to get huffy and deny that he was flip flopping, which is kind of like Lady Gaga denying that she likes to get attention. If Mitt can’t even handle run-of-the-mill questions from FOX NEWS about his flip flopping, what makes anyone think he can deal with the rest of the press in a general election?
There are a lot of issues with trying to run a candidate who doesn’t seem to have any core principles. It makes it impossible for his supporters to get excited about him because you can’t fall in love with a weathervane. Even worse, since politicians tend to be such liars anyway and you know Romney has no firm beliefs, it’s very easy for everyone to assume the worst. Democrats will feel that Romney will be a right wing death-beast. Republicans will think that Romney will screw them over. Independents won’t know what to believe, which will make the hundreds of millions that Obama will spend on attack ads particularly effective. Ronald Reagan famously said the GOP needed “a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors.” That’s particularly relevant when it comes to Mitt Romney who has proven to be a pasty grey pile of formless mush.
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