Skip to comments.Peeking Out From the McCain Wreckage: Mitt Romney
Posted on 11/07/2008 6:20:56 AM PST by Leisler
Facing reporters the day after she and John McCain went down to defeat, Sarah Palin professed not to be thinking much about the next presidential election.
2012 sounds so far off, she said.
Of course, thats exactly the kind of answer that any potential presidential candidate is supposed to give now and for the next two years or so until the 2010 midterm elections signal the more formal start of the next White House campaign cycle.
And make no mistake: the race is very much underway, and it has been for some time. In fact, theres already been a poll, conducted on Election Night by pollster Neil Newhouse. It found that among Republicans, 33 percent believe Mitt Romney should be the partys new leader, with 20 percent choosing Mike Huckabee and 18 percent for Sarah Palin. (Granted, the poll wasnt actually asking who should be the 2012 G.O.P. nominee, but its good enough for now.)
Thats probably a fairly accurate representation of the Republican race at this early stage.
Romney essentially began his 2012 campaign the instant he dropped out of this years contest. Instead of pulling the plug with a subdued press conference, Romney tried to use his withdrawal to curry favor with the party base, dramatically announcing at the February Conservative Political Action Conference that he didnt want to be a part of aiding a surrender to terror by weakening John McCain any further.
Then, after months of bloodying McCain as a traitor to the conservative cause (even though Romney had defined himself in Massachusetts in opposition to the conservative wing of the G.O.P.), he abruptly threw himself into McCains effort in a transparent effort to win the No. 2 slot on the G.O.P. ticket which would have given him a significant leg up in 2012 (or 2016, had he and McCain won). But the Romney-for-VP effort fell apart because of McCains lingering distaste for Romney and his spineless opportunism and because some conservative leaders in the party whose minds were also on 2012 aroused McCains suspicions by aggressively and publicly pushing against Romneys competitors for the running-mate gig, most notably Joe Lieberman.
Still, even though he didnt get his wish, Romney has emerged from the 2008 campaign as the early 12 front-runner. He has solid support among the conservative base, though he struggled to connect with some religious conservatives because of his Mormon faith. But because of his corporate background and style, his youthful energy and his impressive communication skills, Romney has the ability to sell himself as a more mainstream (read: less threatening to moderates and independents) conservative than other candidates who pander to the Christian right. With this potential and the support and name recognition he already has in place, Romney is the clear G.O.P. leader.
That said, Romney dodged a big bullet these past few months, because his 12 preeminence was initially jeopardized when McCain chose Palin as his running-mate. Palin immediately connected with the culturally conservative heart of the Republican Party, a subset of the Republican base (which also includes more traditional economic conservatives who dont dabble in the kind of resentment politics that defines cultural conservatism). That bond was only reinforced during the fall campaign, with cultural conservatives rallying to Palins defense against what they convinced themselves was a concerted push by the liberal media to destroy her.
The threat to Romney was that Palin would expand on this intense base of support during the campaign, creating the kind of broad appeal for herself that Romney can still potentially achieve. Had she done that, she would have supplanted him as the 12 front-runner.
She got off to a solid-looking start. A week after McCain picked her, Palin delivered a mesmerizing convention address in which she showed poise, polish and humor. In the week leading up to her speech, Americans had heard Democrats tirelessly raise questions about her experience, but her command performance set their concerns at ease. Polls in the wake of the G.O.P. convention found most independent voters buying into the Republican line that Palin was being unfairly singled out for criticism. They were warming up to her and she was a clear asset for McCain.
But she couldnt keep it up. Instead, she spent the rest of the campaign systematically undoing all of the good she did for herself with that convention speech. The Sarah Palin that voters saw on the campaign trail this fall and in interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric confirmed to independent and mainstream Republican voters that Palin was in well over her head. By Election Day, she had become Tina Feys impersonation of her, and just 30 percent of voters believed she was qualified to serve as president.
Palin, therefore, emerges from this race as a tremendously polarizing figure. She retains a large and fanatical fan base among cultural conservatives one that would make her a factor in any G.O.P. primary campaign, and a contender in some states, like Iowa. But she has also alienated much of her party and most independents; it is difficult to envision her assembling a winning coalition in a 12 campaign for the G.O.P. nomination.
That leaves Romney sitting pretty (for now, anyway) and suggests that Palin might be a bigger threat to Huckabee, who dealt with the same kind of ceiling this spring that Palin now faces (virtually no appeal beyond religious and cultural conservatives). As of now, Palin and Huckabee will be scrapping over the same basic turf in 12. Obviously, this would hurt both of them and help Romney enormously.
But, as Palin said on Wednesday, 2012 is a long way off. She and Huckabee can both try to use the next few years to broaden their appeal. Huckabee has been hosting a late night variety show on the Fox News Channel for a few months now, and Palin could be in line for a television offer of her own at some point.
There will also be other candidates in 12, any of whom might emerge as the new front-runner, or at least alter the dynamics in a way favorable to Romney, Palin or Huckabee. Newt Gingrich, for instance, is plainly itching to run. A governor or two, along with a few senators or House members, will also inevitably toy with the race, and some of them will enter.
But for now, it can be said that Romney will get what he wanted the day he dropped out back in February: another shot at the nomination
Often derided for being ‘plastic’, Mitt is more a creature of narrow, albeit successful, experience.
I've heard that you can tell a man by his enemies. Oddly, the only ones that express strong dissonance to Mitt, are in the GOP. The GOP can live without Mitt, but not without its conservatives. Without them, it is moderate Democrats, which actually is the GOP.
Do I think that if the 66% of the GOP gets behind Mitt, Mitt can get elected? Yes, but it's not happening. Mitt has rebranded himself too many times.
Hey Mitt, you’re a MORMON! Ain’t no way you your ever gonna be elected unless you dye your skin black, move to Indonesia and become a Muslim!
Romney is a very polarizing figure. There are few that are neutral to him. People either support him or oppose him. 33% support means the opposition is large - the same sort of opposition McCain faced for his history.
What it means to me is that we need new choices. If Mittens thinks he's just going to park his butt on a shelf for the next couple of years, waiting for the party to call him to ride in on his white horse, he's sadly mistaken.
Our future leaders will come from the people who are best able to oppose the Obamunism agenda. We need a new "Contract With America" to spell out solid proposals for how we will restore America's greatness. In about a year and a half, the fools who thought that vague promises of "Change and Hope" will solve anything will have their heads sufficiently out of their posteriors to pay attention to it.
That's how we got past Mr. "I feel your pain" sixteen years ago, that's how we'll work our way out of this situation. The American people just need a reminder every so often that flaky slogans accomplish nothing.
Right. Poor economic conditions sink the party in the White House. Why on earth do you think Romney would have stopped that, especially since he is linked to Wall Street and the general public was blamed Wall Street for the financial crisis?
It doesn't take a man that raised taxes/fees and bankrupted Massachusetts with socialized health care legislation that is from Wall Street to articulate conservative economic principles. Sarah Palin or Bobby Jindal can do that just fine.
He is welcome to take his best shot in Michigan or Massachusetts at Senate seat or governorship. That's it.
33% does not a consenses make. Thirty three percent of Americans believe in ghosts, UFO’s, astrology, witchcraft and reincarnation.
spelled “consensus.” Sheesh
I'd take George HW Bush over Romney now, too. That doesn't mean I want to settle for someone like him over a Reagan conservative in 2012.
NO, NO, NO to anyone that ran in the primaries of 2008! Have seen enough to last a lifetime. The undermining of Sarah Palin by the Romney supporters in the McCain campaign will not be forgotten.
We need new blood and not someone who was not a team player. We need someone who has always been conservative not someone who sticks a finger in the wind.
Romney, Huckabee, McCain, Rudy, Thompson — JUST SAY NO!
I'd take George HW Bush over Obama now, too. That doesn't mean I want to settle for someone like him over a Reagan conservative in 2012.
I wish he would go for Reid’s seat in NV. If he takes a residence there now, he would probably win.
“And why pray tell does Palin have negatives? Why... the leftist MSM of course!.
I believe most people around here would call that a net plus for Palin.”
Agree. Would like to see her plan around the negativity and make a strong comeback. She could get on the speaking circuit, maybe as an advocate for Down’s Syndrome, boost herself with the public, and counter the past and future media attacks.
Palin needs to go on Fox...frequently and smile at the camera. She needs to make the rounds in conservative circles and take Ivy league classes and get her leftist toilet paper. She needs to kiss the right butts in the beltway. That's how the game is played.
Hey, in defense of Mormons, they were critical in defeating the gay marriage ban in CA.
They took a lot of BS from the media and the fag lobby.
Oops, should say they were critical in passing the gay marriage ban!!
I’d vote for Jeff Flake. Check him out, he’s good.
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