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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: Leisler
I will not support any old school liberal rinos again. Choosing a lame a$$ed POS liberal like mcnasty got us a marxist for President. We will not leave the party but we will purge it of leaders like mitt, juan and many others.


61 posted on 11/07/2008 6:59:21 AM PST by LibLieSlayer (GOD, Country, Family... except when it comes to dims! I am an UMA-unity my a$$)
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To: Maine Mariner

I always though GHWB regretted picking Quayle and lent him little help after 1989. when Quayle trailed to run in 1999 against their anointed one, even Barbara Bush (I think but cannot recall the details) denounced Marilyn Quayle at one point.

62 posted on 11/07/2008 7:04:04 AM PST by Theodore R. (Cowardice is forever!)
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To: Leisler

PALIN 2012!

In your face Romney.

63 posted on 11/07/2008 7:04:48 AM PST by Cringing Negativism Network (PALIN 2012: No more RINOS... Ever!!)
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To: Maine Mariner

I also think but could be wrong that Quayle would have performed better as President than either GHWB or GWB.

64 posted on 11/07/2008 7:06:41 AM PST by Theodore R. (Cowardice is forever!)
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To: GOPsterinMA
If you guys try to go to the left then there will be no Party. You cannot exist without Conservatives and we are well done with mitt and his school of elitist BS. We will not leave but we will fight and burn down the house if we need to. NO MORE compromise... every friggin’ dim that beat a pubbie incumbent was running to the right of the incumbent. The exact same thing happened in '06. You argument no longer holds water or sway.


65 posted on 11/07/2008 7:07:25 AM PST by LibLieSlayer (GOD, Country, Family... except when it comes to dims! I am an UMA-unity my a$$)
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To: so_real

This is the real trick. When Palin comes back in 2010 she will have a plan and a blueprint for the path of this Country. She will be able to discuss “her” plans and ideas for the public. I imagine her coming out with something like what the congressman from WI has out now. It might not be the same ideas but it will be clear objectives that she actually believes in. It is always easier to defend your ideas and not someone elses. Mitt has presented “his” plan and it was rejected. That is why Mitt is not going to be the next choice.

66 posted on 11/07/2008 7:07:46 AM PST by sharkshooting
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To: Leisler

This is bad. You know, I feel if Iowa and New Hampshire are STILL allowed to go first in the primary process. And NH is STILL allowed to let anybody vote in the primary regardless of party, Mitt may well have a solid chance of being the front-runner out of the gate.

What law says these states have to vote first? Is there one? McCain didn’t even carry Iowa or NH ultimately. And NH was primarily responsible for fueling his comeback, right? Can’t we work to stop this now?

Can the GOP reject delegates from states with “open” primaries? The argument that it will upset them doesn’t wash when you see that the libs were still able to carry MI and FL this year after screwing around with their delegates.

Can the GOP have somebody else vote first? Like, for example, the states that won by the “reddest” margin this year? Maybe it could provide some good incentive for local grass-roots organizers. States that have the strongest showing get the distinction of being the first in the process.

In my opinion, restructuring our primaries should be the first thing we go after if we want to rebuild the right way. I’m not an expert. Maybe I’m way off base. But if you agree, how do we get this done? Where do we start?

Is it already too late for 2012?

67 posted on 11/07/2008 7:08:58 AM PST by mmichaels1970
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To: LottieDah

I’d take Mitt too right now over Obama. When we were down to McCain, Huckabee, Paul, and Romney in the CO caucus I chose Romney. However, for 2012 I don’t want to see the same old in the line up—2008 part II. A lot can happen in 4 years, but I’m hoping for a Jindal run right now and a lot of other fresh conservative faces. I have no idea who some of those faces might be, but I hope they are out there and getting prepared.

68 posted on 11/07/2008 7:09:48 AM PST by beaversmom
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To: raptor29

Don’t bet on it. Whether you like him or hate him, he has 300 million bucks or so waiting to unleash in a campaign. That much money will make him a player.

69 posted on 11/07/2008 7:11:10 AM PST by MBB1984
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To: cricket

“wish he had been McCain’s ‘pick’ for VP”

You would have really seen an Obama landslide then.

70 posted on 11/07/2008 7:11:59 AM PST by Retired Greyhound
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To: Leisler

I like Mitt ok - but he’s a Republican, not a conservative.
The best speech Mitt gave was his concession speech- he should leave it there.

In my view, we need new faces and voices who are enthusiastic and principled conservatives. Men like Pence, women like Bachman.

For 8 years we’ve struggled with a “compassionate conservative” as the leader of the GOP. It’s been a long hard road for me to lose faith in my president. I dearly love the guy - and yet I believe he’s been badly served by those he trusted.

Whatever the cause- the result is the GOP is a mess- without a vision. We are suffering from a lack of leadership- because we stopped standing on our PRINCIPLES. It is hard to lead without clarity of purpose and beliefs.

So basically we gave the “rino” wing of the party 8 years, several of them under complete majorities in the executive and legislative branches. We see the results.

There is a nucleus- mostly in the House, a few in the Senate- of conservatives. They should be expected to craft positions and policies based on PRINCIPLES- not the other way around.

The struggle in the party is now between the ideas of Democrat-lite and actual conservative principles.

I don’t see Romney on the side of the latter.

71 posted on 11/07/2008 7:13:56 AM PST by SE Mom (Proud mom of an Iraq war combat vet)
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To: LibLieSlayer

I’m not proposing lurching to the left; quite the opposite, actually. I’m using Romney as an example of what the party should be going after: an Economics-based candidate(s). Who else is out there to use as an example? Please, hold him/her up.

OTOH, Mitt is no where nearly as horrible as folks have made him out to be. I know - I lived here in MA when he was governor. Is he my #1 choice? No. But again, Ronald Reagan isn’t making any more campaign stops.

Another thought: the GOP/RNC should buy their own TV network - this will be the only way to get the message out.

72 posted on 11/07/2008 7:14:02 AM PST by GOPsterinMA (The countdown to 01/20/2013 has started......will it matter?)
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To: Leisler
I might be full of “it” but I can't help thinking Romney or his people are behind the smearing of Sarah. She is a major obstacle for him in 2012.
73 posted on 11/07/2008 7:14:37 AM PST by i are a cowboy
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To: GOP_Lady

Well, Romney is handsome, and he can appeal to the dumb women who were turned on by Bill Clinton, and I guess now Barack Obama........

74 posted on 11/07/2008 7:16:09 AM PST by ForbesFan
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To: Leisler

NO! GODDAMMIT, NO! He may be a LOT smarter than Bush and McCain, but NO MORE GODDAMNED RINOS!

75 posted on 11/07/2008 7:19:58 AM PST by dangus
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To: ForbesFan

Okay, so now we can libs in charge of the economy instead of Mr. Romney. Great.

76 posted on 11/07/2008 7:20:06 AM PST by GOP_Lady
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To: ForbesFan

Well Sarah is prett, so what’s your point?

77 posted on 11/07/2008 7:20:38 AM PST by GOP_Lady
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To: GOP_Lady
Would Mitt have done any worse? I doubt it.

I'll tell you this: Mitt would have ripped Obamarx a new one during the debates for sure.

The Republican Party needs someone who can effectively communicate and speak coherently.

78 posted on 11/07/2008 7:21:58 AM PST by GOPsterinMA (The countdown to 01/20/2013 has started......will it matter?)
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To: Leisler
Does this mean anything to anyone here?:

"33 percent believe Mitt Romney should be the party’s new leader..."

79 posted on 11/07/2008 7:24:18 AM PST by GOP_Lady
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To: GOPsterinMA
The Republican Party needs someone who can effectively communicate and speak coherently.

The party also needs someone who is actually a conservative.

80 posted on 11/07/2008 7:24:44 AM PST by meyer (We are all John Galt)
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