Conservatives of all stripes have their issues with Governor Romney. Social conservatives despise his previous positions on life, gay marriage, and the social safety net. Fiscal conservatives despise him because he lobbied for TARP, increased spending and raised taxes while governor of Taxachusetts, and implemented the father of Obamacare (something all Conservatives except Ann Coulter takes offense to). Heck, even middle-of-the-road 2nd Amendment advocates aren’t exactly thrilled with Mitt Romney’s praise of his homestate’s restrictive gun laws. Romney is winning by losing, and while he tends to maximize the success of a losing effort, he’s got to eventually got to come to terms with conservatives. Mitt’s largest win – by percentage of popular vote received – so far in the continuous 50 states has been in the Commonwealth, but conservative voters weren’t exactly running to the polls to support Romney. Romney won my precinct 148 to 110 – convincing for sure, but the hidden number was the 27 undervotes cast on paper ballots. 10% of those who came to vote in the primary in my precinct alone rejected both candidates*. As voters came out of the polling place, they’d stop by the Republican table and tell us that they weren’t ready to vote for Romney. They are ready to forgive him for his past social and fiscal transgressions. They are willing to forgive the a reformed liberal Republican governor of a liberal state – much like our Conservative hero Ronald Reagan. So how does a social & fiscal conservative and 2nd Amendment advocate like me forgive Mitt Romney for the all of the things mentioned above?
In order for Mitt Romney to receive my support, he must first flatly and firmly reject Romneycare. He must admit that the individual mandate in his state is unconstitutional under federal law. He certainly can’t go about calling Obamacare’s plan such as a state’s individual mandate certainly wouldn’t supercede The Commerce Clause. Likewise, he can’t go talking about how much money Massachusetts has saved. Premiums have gone up and up and up and up since he signed this landmark legislation into law. He has said that he would repeal Obamacare, but hasn’t articulated to what extent.
Romney must also address – fully – his flip-flop on the issue of life. He can cite Reagan’s conversion all day long, but Reagan had decades between his term as the original guvernator and the Oval Office. Romney’s change happened rather recently, and inexplicably. All of the sudden he is a pro-life warrior – which wouldn’t be a big surprise considering his sincere allegiance to his faith – but carries a very well documented history of defending Roe. This is problematic in another, more important issue. Should Romney be elected he will most likely appoint three new justices to the Supreme Court. The last milquetoast Republican to appoint Supreme Court justices was George H.W. Bush who gave us Justice Souter – and Justice Thomas, so GHWB was really a wash in that regard.
Romney must also – right now – reject negative campaigning. While he may be benefiting from negative ads in primary states, he is quite literally turning more and more conservatives off because they feel like Romney is attacking them! I realize that the primary is a full-contact blood sport, but this has gone a bit too far. His wins (and near wins) keep on coming in, but his negatives are skyrocketing, driving the GOP brand into the toilet. He needs to rise above it. I am a staunchly non-Romney guy having backed Cain, then Perry, then Gingrich (now nobody) but was beside myself when they attacked Romney for being – of all things – a capitalist! Romney needs to do a better job explaining to people – without coming off too tin-eared – that he did what he had to at Bain in order to spare jobs. For added measure, Rick Santorum seems to be doing a fine job ruining his own chances, thank-you-very-much.
Oh, and Massachusetts gun laws are horrible and have done absolutely nothing to prevent crime. He just needs to say, “Hey, I was wrong!”
The bottom line here is, I’m willing to forgive Mitt Romney. I don’t even care if his apologies are insincere – he is a politician after all – but I need a reason to say, “That’s my guy!” He has done a spectacularly bad job as coming off as the “everyman,” but he comes off as an even worse candidate when he defends his failures. Concluding his 2012 CPAC speech, Andrew Breitbart summoned the audience to get behind the nominee – whoever that may be – because four more years of an administration that regularly usurps the Constitution, doubles the national debt, etc., is something we can’t afford. Obama must be defeated, and if Romney is the man, he’ll begrudgingly have my vote
* At least another 10 votes were cast by Democrats. They were at least good enough to sign the petitions displayed on our table for Republican candidates for US Senate, but I did not offer them doughnuts!