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Peeking Out From the McCain Wreckage: Mitt Romney
New York Observer ^ | November 6, 2008 | Steve Kornaki

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, that’s 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, there’s 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 party’s new leader, with 20 percent choosing Mike Huckabee and 18 percent for Sarah Palin. (Granted, the poll wasn’t actually asking who should be the 2012 G.O.P. nominee, but it’s good enough for now.)

That’s 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 year’s 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 didn’t 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 McCain’s 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 McCain’s lingering distaste for Romney and his spineless opportunism and because some conservative leaders in the party – whose minds were also on 2012 – aroused McCain’s suspicions by aggressively and publicly pushing against Romney’s competitors for the running-mate gig, most notably Joe Lieberman.

Still, even though he didn’t 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 don’t 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 Palin’s 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 couldn’t 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 Fey’s 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

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: gop; mormonism; rino; rnc; romney
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To: SoConPubbie
Well, to his credit, he was the first to offer the Auto Workers Union a 25 billion dollar bailout for their self caused problems. Then of course was the 1/2 billion bailout of the Utah Hack Olympics, so, Mitt is consistent.
41 posted on 11/07/2008 6:44:50 AM PST by Leisler (Obama is going to give us all Unicorns!)
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To: Leisler

Romney will be a repeat of McCain. He couldnt beat McCain in the Primaries despite a massive cash advantage and look at how little enthusiasm McCain generated in the General election.

42 posted on 11/07/2008 6:46:12 AM PST by igoramus08 (Democrats caused Fannie and Freddie to collapse and this Economic Crisis and Recession)
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To: Leisler

Once beaten for the nomination, Romney became The Invisible Man of this election.

Of course, that was purposefully done. He thinks that by remaining in hiding, he has preserved his credibility to again be a candidate in 2012.

I believe he will be soundly disappointed. Then again, if he wants to waste another $23 million or so of his own money, fine with me... :)

- John

43 posted on 11/07/2008 6:46:27 AM PST by Fishrrman
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To: Leisler

He needs to go back to Massachusetts, and stop hiding behind back-stabbing cowards.

44 posted on 11/07/2008 6:46:58 AM PST by fetal heart beats by 21st day (Defending human life is not a federalist issue. It is the business of all of humanity.)
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To: indylindy
The old guard has to go NOW.


45 posted on 11/07/2008 6:47:00 AM PST by johnny7 ("Duck I says... ")
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To: Leisler

Romney is done and will not be a factor in 2012. Mark my words.

46 posted on 11/07/2008 6:47:10 AM PST by rintense (I don't wanna gain the whole world and lose my soul~ TobyMac (are you listening Obamabots?))
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To: Leisler

This is classic staffer behavior. Happens with every loser. The problem is that the MSM & SNL had charicatured Palin and she was an easy mark.

47 posted on 11/07/2008 6:47:33 AM PST by DBCJR (What would you expect?)
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To: Earthdweller

They seem to be everywhere.

48 posted on 11/07/2008 6:47:53 AM PST by Leisler (Obama is going to give us all Unicorns!)
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To: org.whodat

“ROFLOL, liberal mitt is back, “

I’d take liberal Mitt over outright Marxist, Socialist, America hating Obama anytime.

49 posted on 11/07/2008 6:48:40 AM PST by LottieDah (If only those who speak so eloquently on the rights of animals would do so on behalf of the unborn.)
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To: fetal heart beats by 21st day
I think his dear old home state is California now. Or New Hampshire, or Michigan, or Utah.

Somewhere. Floating. Who knows?

50 posted on 11/07/2008 6:50:03 AM PST by Leisler (Obama is going to give us all Unicorns!)
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To: Leisler
“Massachusetts Mitt” or “Sarah Barracuda?” I say Sarah!
51 posted on 11/07/2008 6:50:10 AM PST by ghostrider
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To: Leisler

Romney = Back stabber! Must be watched!

52 posted on 11/07/2008 6:50:48 AM PST by WellyP
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To: Leisler
Had she done that, she would have supplanted him as the ’12 front-runner.

Believe me, Sarah has. Romney looks like an empty suit Northeastern country club elitist next to her, which ironically is exactly what he is. McRomney should call off their smear merchants who are attacking Sarah, for their own good. They will take themselves down, but not Sarah. The base is on her side.

53 posted on 11/07/2008 6:51:56 AM PST by Thane_Banquo (President George W. Bush, RINO-in-Chief.)
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To: Leisler

This thread should tell you all you need to know about the chances of a Romney win.I will permanently leave the GOP if Romney somehow weasels his way into the nomination.

Our tent does not expand by moving it leftward. You would think that lesson would be perfectly clear after Tuesday.

54 posted on 11/07/2008 6:52:43 AM PST by Tex Pete (Obama for Change: from our pockets, our piggy banks, and our couch cushions!)
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To: WellyP

“Romney = Back stabber! Must be watched!”

YOu’ve got it right, WellyP

55 posted on 11/07/2008 6:53:17 AM PST by 9YearLurker
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To: Las Vegas Ron
Dear Las Vegas Ron,

I've seen sufficient evidence to be persuaded, but in my disgust, I haven't kept track of it, so I can't readily point it out to you.

Fraudney can go back to Massachusetts and rot.


56 posted on 11/07/2008 6:53:58 AM PST by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: Leisler

Just say no to Mitt!

57 posted on 11/07/2008 6:54:30 AM PST by rivercat
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To: Buck W.

If you think Mitt Romney is the solution to the GOP ills, then the patient is truly terminal.

58 posted on 11/07/2008 6:55:31 AM PST by mquinn (Obama's supporters: a deliberate drowning of consciousness by means of rhythmic noise)
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To: Leisler

Sure ... Romney sounds GREAT ... IF you want a REPEAT of the outcome of THIS election. Romney would do or say anything to get elected. He’s as slick as a used car salesman. He doesn’t represent me ... us. We got a taste of true representation with Palin. We liked it ... a lot. If it weren’t for Palin, I likely would have voted Libertarian this year. Romney is no Palin. Give me “a Palin” or give me “Palin”.

59 posted on 11/07/2008 6:57:04 AM PST by so_real
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To: rintense
Mitt Romney?

The candidate of K Street and a White House that stopped being conservative a long, long time ago? We want to follow this gerbil over the cliff in 2012?

Thanks, but no thanks. Say no to the Ken Doll!



60 posted on 11/07/2008 6:58:08 AM PST by section9 (Major Motoko Kusanagi says, "Jesus is Coming. Everybody look busy...")
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