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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

No way i’d ever vote for the pile of poop!

81 posted on 11/07/2008 7:25:03 AM PST by dalereed
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To: GOPsterinMA

Yep. And he showed us that and even told us that.

82 posted on 11/07/2008 7:25:35 AM PST by GOP_Lady
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To: GOP_Lady

Men don’t get as worked up over an attractive woman as women do over good-looking men. Didn’t you ever hear Rush talk about the “arousal gap”?

83 posted on 11/07/2008 7:26:58 AM PST by ForbesFan
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To: Leisler

No support here. No more rinos. Just go away.

84 posted on 11/07/2008 7:27:59 AM PST by GBA
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To: Buck W.
Here we go again. This is exactly the kind of juvenile whining that guaranteed the GOP loss this year.

Here we go again. Thisis exactly the kind of juvenile whining that guaranteed the GOP loss this year.

85 posted on 11/07/2008 7:28:00 AM PST by P-Marlowe (LPFOKETT GAHCOEEP-w/o*)
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To: ForbesFan
Ahhh, I don't think so.

Have you seen the multitude and multitude of posts by men on Ms. Palin’s looks? I have.

86 posted on 11/07/2008 7:28:38 AM PST by GOP_Lady
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To: sitetest
Thanks. I tend to agree but didn't want to jump off of the deep end without any proof.

My hunch is that McCain has his fingers in this too as it fits his MO.

We'll see what unfolds hee soon.

87 posted on 11/07/2008 7:28:50 AM PST by Las Vegas Ron (Election '08, the year McCain defined the word "dilemma")
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To: GOP_Lady

Kathleen Parker? Is that you?

88 posted on 11/07/2008 7:32:01 AM PST by colorcountry (To anger a conservative, lie to him. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: GOP_Lady

Well, I just don’t think enough men would have voted for McCain because they thought Palin was pretty, but women might vote for Romney because they’re turned on by him. There are a lot of dumb Democrat women out there who don’t have too many brain cells to rub together.... it could give us an edge anyway, but no, Romney is not the best person to be representing conservative principles.

89 posted on 11/07/2008 7:33:52 AM PST by ForbesFan
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To: colorcountry

Oh, I think you know I’m not Kathleen. I’m just one of the 33% who back Mitt Romney as the GOP leader.

90 posted on 11/07/2008 7:34:01 AM PST by GOP_Lady
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To: meyer

I agree! If Tom Coburn or Ted Poe or Jeff Sessions or Jim DeMint (for examples) would run I’d personally love it! Will they run? Can they win?

While this country is still slightly center-right, It’s further lef than it was 20 years ago, no question. Who is the best messenger? I don’t know. But, IMO, the messenger needs to be someone who can talk economics, first and foremost.

91 posted on 11/07/2008 7:34:52 AM PST by GOPsterinMA (The countdown to 01/20/2013 has started......will it matter?)
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To: GOP_Lady


92 posted on 11/07/2008 7:36:32 AM PST by GOPsterinMA (The countdown to 01/20/2013 has started......will it matter?)
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To: ForbesFan
"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........"

It's all about how the markets want to present you and the markets won't present you unless you graduated from Harvard or Yale. Never mind if your daddy bought the place for you or you were recommended by rich terrorist...nothing a teleprompter can't fix.

Come on people, put two and two together...Romney will be shoved down our throats for the next four years and Palin will get all the snotty elitist scorn that money can buy.

93 posted on 11/07/2008 7:37:31 AM PST by Earthdweller (Socialism makes you feel better about oppressing people.....)
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To: GOP_Lady
Does this mean anything to anyone here?:

That instead of roughly 5% of the GOP staying home, 67% of the GOP would stay home.

94 posted on 11/07/2008 7:39:47 AM PST by Ingtar (For the first time in my adult life, I am NOT proud of America.)
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To: MBB1984

Not a chance, money or not. The current crop of phony Republicans will be tarred and feathered by the time 2012 comes around. They will have no chance. We will have a hard-edged candidate in 2012, the country will be demanding one. And ‘politicians’ like Romney, those who have sold out along the way to get along with the left will get blown away.

95 posted on 11/07/2008 7:39:50 AM PST by raptor29
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To: GOP_Lady

Of course it means something...Romney, like McCain from 2000, is the defacto candidate for 2012. Republicans are like that, with the “it’s your turn” mentality...also, because of Palin’s huge national negatives, she’s going to be lumped in with Huckleberry as the “Socon candidate” for now...she’ll have to work at expanding her base in the party to have a shot...magritte

96 posted on 11/07/2008 7:40:06 AM PST by magritte (If a problem comes along, you must whip it.)
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To: Leisler

No Romney.
People need to realize that moderate’s are our problem, not our solution.

97 posted on 11/07/2008 7:41:36 AM PST by HereInTheHeartland (Flush Obama/Biden in 2008!!!!)
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To: Ingtar

Well, then stay home and lose. That number of 67% is not realistic at all.

98 posted on 11/07/2008 7:41:47 AM PST by GOP_Lady
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To: magritte
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.

99 posted on 11/07/2008 7:43:14 AM PST by Earthdweller (Socialism makes you feel better about oppressing people.....)
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To: Las Vegas Ron
Dear Las Vegas Ron,

A few folks in the conservative media have actually traced some of the anti-Palin smears back to senior McCain folks (I remember seeing something to this effect on the Corner), but I don't know whether these folks are just trying to deflect the blame from themselves, or whether it comes from McCain, himself.

However, the stuff from the Fraudney camp wouldn't make any sense if it didn't come from Fraudney, himself. The McCain staffers need a scapegoat to blame for their own incompetence. The Fraudney folks don't have a similar need.


100 posted on 11/07/2008 7:44:26 AM PST by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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