A Few Thoughts About Last Night

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As was tweeted by a few individuals, it is remarkable that a conservative, Catholic, Republican – who largely rejects JFK’s sentiments on religion in the public square to boot – won primaries in Alabama and Mississippi.  It’s also becoming evident that exit polling means squat with regards to Rick Santorum.

Mitt Romney continues to be the weakest front-runner imaginable.  It was funny to listen to John Batchelor and his parade of insiders smugly dismiss Santorum’s victories and chat away about the inevitability of Romney’s nomination while Santorum was winning two southern states in which Romney finished third.  Yes, Romney still has an edge, and with victories in American Samoa and Hawaii Santorum’s delegate edge last night was minimal.  But Romney has far from sealed the deal.

Speaking of Romney, his gaggle of supporters truly marked themselves by their utter gracelessness in defeat.  As Mark Levin said, Romney supporters are quickly becoming as obnoxious as Ron Paul supporters.  It’s true that partisans of all of the candidates can be particularly blind to their own candidate’s faults and to exaggerate the foibles of the others, but Romney supporters in all corners of the internet have been particularly bitter and have done little to actually sway others to their side.  What might explain this phenomenon is that unlike the others, Romney voters aren’t particularly enamored with their candidate and are instead motivated by either dislike of the other candidates and/or fear that any other candidate would lose the general election.  So they don’t really have any convincing arguments to make on behalf of Romney, but instead they kick and stomp their feet every time Romney fails to win a primary.  I would suggest that calling those of us who don’t vote for Romney a bunch of hayseed hicks, and suggesting that social cons be banished from consideration this election might just not be a winning strategy.  Just saying.

As for Newt, there is absolutely no compelling reason for him to stay in this race.  He won his home state, the state neighboring his home state, and has otherwise been a distant consideration save for the states he lost last night in the south.  Rick Santorum already had a slight lead in Louisiana, and I think that last night’s victories just about clinches the state for him (though that’s a rather dangerous prediction considering the wildness of this primary season thus far).  That being said, his reasoning for staying in is not all that outrageous.  He suggested that he didn’t want Romney to concentrate all of his fire on Santorum, something I said not that long ago.  And while he has no realistic shot to win the nomination before or even during the Republican convention – is a brokered convention really going to nominate the guy with the third most delegates coming in? – he might be able to prevent Romney from securing the necessary number of delegates, and that seems to be his primary goal.  After all, not all of his supporters will switch to Santorum.  By staying in the race he is hurting Santorum, but he’s also hurting Romney by picking off a few delegates.  Take away Gingrich from last night, and both Santorum and Romney would have won more delegates.  That would have inched Romney closer to the nomination.

On the other hand, I don’t suppose Gingrich contributors are going to be all that enthused to continue propping up a candidate who has no intention of actually winning, and is instead motivated by nothing more than spite.  Also, as was discussed last night, even if Romney fails to secure the precious 1,044 delegates by the time Tampa rolls around, he’ll still be the favorite at a brokered convention if he is significantly ahead of Santorum.  There is no magical candidate that will emerge from the ashes of a brokered convention.  It’s either going to be Romney or it’s going to be Santorum.  Every delegate that Santorum doesn’t win from here until the convention is just as good as a delegate for Romney under a brokered convention scenario.  If Santorum remains fairly close in the delegate count while neither candidate has the necessary majority, then Gingrich can play kingmaker at the convention.  He would be well-advised to drop out sooner than later if he wants to achieve his twin objection of derailing Romney and having a hand in deciding the eventual nominee.

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  1. The electablility argument is getting pretty thread bare for Romney, which has been the only selling point of the Weathervane’s campaign. There is a poll out today showing Romney getting trounced by Obama in Pennsylvania by six points with Santorum trailing Obama by one. Plus, as Paul points out, polls routinely understate Santorum’s actual vote totals, usually by three-four points. We are beginning to see a “Reagan Effect” in Santorum’s numbers, Reagan consistantly doing better on election day than his polls indicated.

  2. As that commenter at Paul’s blog noted the other day, Romney must be the most unelectable candidate in history whose most compelling argument in his favor is “electability”.

    Larry Sabato seems to get what we get and what so many GOP Establishment types (see, e.g., Pawlenty’s gawdawful and pathetic shilling last night) just can’t seem to grasp:

    “Yes, he’s constructed a solid organization, but it cannot hide Romney’s unappealing inadequacies. Maybe a bad economy will elect him anyway, but without pure luck tossing the White House into his lap, he needs Rick Santorum’s challenge. Santorum is forcing Romney to earn the nomination every step of the way, and maybe, just maybe, he’s making Romney face up to his severe shortcomings on the campaign trail before it is too late to do anything about them.”

    I doubt it, if the oh-so-inspiring delegate-math talking points the Romney sycophants are spouting is any indication. They JUST DON’T GET IT. Romney has run the sort of campaign an incumbent runs – the sort of campaign Bush ran against Kerry in 2004 – that focuses on the negatives of the alternative and relies on superior organizational infrastructure to ensure the votes are there when and where they are needed. But Romney is NOT an incumbent, and, at any rate, this type of strategy will NOT work against Obama in the fall.

    What he has utterly failed to do is provide a compelling reason to vote FOR him. He has offered no compelling conservative vision for the GOP or for the nation. And he has never provided a satisfactory narrative explaining how a life-long self-described “progressive”/”moderate” Republican and a supporter of the “pro-choice” viewpoint suddenly at the age of 60 decided that he could be be the “conservative” standard bearer. And he can’t provide such an explanation because we’d all know it to be complete crap. Just look at who those supporting him are today. Just look at his discomfort in trying to sound like a “severe conservative”. Just look at how easily and with such flair he gets into his comfort zone in going to his opponents’ left.

    Quite honestly, Romney offers nothing to the GOP electorate other than a warm body and nice hair to put up as an alternative to Barack Obama. Sorry, but given his ACTUAL track record, that ain’t enough to get me to pull the lever for him.

  3. I’m not as sanguine about Santorum’s prospects. The following is this morning’s take from one of my politically astute partners:

    The upcoming calendar will be much more favorable for Romney. (Even last night, he gained more delegates than Santorum with his wins in Hawaii and Samoa.)

    Here are the upcoming races with number of delegates:

    March 17 Missouri (52) Expect Santorum to win here
    March 18 *Puerto Rico (23) Romney
    March 20 Illinois (69) Romney
    March 24 Louisiana (24) While the south, very different than SC, GA, AL, MS with the very heavy Catholic vote
    Apr 3 *Wisconsin (42) Romney (although Gingrich claims he will win because wife no. 3 is from here)
    Apr 3 *Maryland (37) Romney
    Apr 3 *DC (19) Romney
    Apr 24 New York (95) Romney
    Apr 24 Pennsylvania (72) Bet it is close
    Apr 24 Connecticut (28) Romney
    Apr 24 Rhode Island (19) Romney
    Apr 24 *Delaware (16) Romney

    I have marked with an * those primaries that are winner take all. That has been a huge plus for Romney so far. He has won most of those states so far. And the calendar is shaping up well for him going forward on those. I really can’t see him losing any of the upcoming five—Puerto Rico, Wisconsin, Maryland, DC, or Delaware.

    Because most of the other primaries, until you get to California, will be some sort of proportional award of the delegates, it is very hard for the others to catch Romney. Right now, he has the pretty commanding lead and more than everybody else put together. And he is entering a much more favorable calendar for him. The worst is behind him. He should have a big day on April 24. If he does not, then he is in trouble. But I really can’t see Santorum winning New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, or Delaware. He will have lot of pressure to win in Pennsylvania. If he loses there, then I think it is over.

  4. Actually, I’d rather argue with Ron Paul fans.

    The Romney bots are becoming indistinguishable from progressives in their hatred for Santorum. And their inability to recognize the slightest of flaws in their guy is on the verge of sending me into a cricket bat flailing frenzy. One bot tried to chalk up Santorum’s margin entirely to evangelical bigotry.

    Because, as we all know, southern evangelicals are renowned for their love feasts with the Roman Church.

  5. Maryland is not winner-take-all. Three delegates from each congressional district are awarded, and ten delegates go to the overall winner. Romney will likely win here (though I am gonna be doing my best for Santorum), but there are several districts where Santorum will do well and likely win.

    Other than that, you are correct that we are entering a slightly tougher portion of the contest for Santorum, though I think you are slightly over-rating Romney’s chances in some of the states. My guess is is LA and PA are safer for Santorum than you suggest, and Wisconsin could be in play. If he survives this, then we are back to states that would seem to favor Santorum.

  6. Mike, I think your analysis is pretty sound. It’s definitely an uphill battle for Santorum, especially since Gingrich is determined to stay in. Even without him, though, it’s not easy to see RS’ path to victory.

    Romney needs to wake up and see that he’s not entitled to the GOP vote in November just because he gets the nomination. Right now, he seems determined to keep the base at arms length, and he just might get that in return come November 6.

  7. Thanks, Dale. Just a few more thoughts: Plainly one cannot assign Santorum’s success with evangelicals exclusively to anti-Morman bigotry, but as a resident of the capital of the South, I think it is a surprisingly significant factor. I have many friends who are evangelicals, and they uniformly report widespread discomfort with Romney’s Momanism. In the end, this discomfort is not likely to hurt Romney too badly in the general election because the evangelical vote is concentrated in states that GOP is almost sure to win regardless. Regarding the South and Catholics, I can confirm that things have changed dramatically in the 30 years I’ve resided here.

    In addition, I don’t see Romney as distancing himself from the base. What he is doing is concentrating on the issue that is most likely to get him elected: the economy, which is also the issue his resume suggests he is most competent to address (i.e., his strong suit). While this may frustrate social conservatives (like myself), I don’t think there is any intention to keep the base at arm’s length — instead he is staying on message. Time will tell whether that works.

    Finally, regarding social issues, I predict Romney would do fine as president. I worry Santorum’s passion would backfire. I do yearn for a president who would replicate W’s consistency and passion for the pro-Life cause, etc., but to be effective that president needs to skilled in persuading others. Santorum has a tin ear for this in my view, and badly so. His election could actually hurt the pro-life cause simply due to the clumsy way he tends to express himself or frame the issues. This is one reason I believe that Romney would be more successful than Santorum in appointing conservative jurists, and this is the single most important role the president plays with respect to abortion and other issues of importance to faithful Catholics.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’d vote for Rick over Obama in a NY minute, but I think Romney would be the better President. I realize mileage varies on this assessment.

    Finally, I would note that not all politicians are particularly ideological or interested in abstract things such as the role of government in matters of social policy as it effects either personal behavior or the economy, especially Republicans who typically are not products of political science schools and career politicians. Romney, like many Republican candidates, is a man of conserative sensibilites and impulses, but he is mostly a practical problem solver, more technician than ideologue. I know many good and solid Catholics like this — we are not all policy wonks.

  8. “Romney, like many Republican candidates, is a man of conserative sensibilites and impulses, …”

    I’ll ask again: On what basis can anyone confidently and credibly make this claim on Dullard Flip Rino’s behalf?

    His rhetoric before he decided to run for President at age 60 gives no indication that he is anything other than a self-proclaimed “pro-choice progressive”. His ACTUAL governing record indicates that he is a slightly left-of-center big-government technocrat. When he decided to seek the GOP nomination, suddenly a lifetime in the progressive wing of the GOP gave way to a “conservative” Romney who seems ill-at-ease talking like a conservative and right at home talking like a progressive, big-government technocrat.

    Based on those measures, Romney is easily the least conservative (i.e. most liberal) candidate likely to win the GOP nomination since Gerald Ford.

  9. Mike Petrik, I don’t want to cast aspersions on your politically astute partners; however just because a state tends to vote liberal in general elections doesn’t mean the GOP primary will be filled with moderates and liberals. For example in Delaware the establishment Mike Castle was beat by Christine O’Donnel. One would think in the land of DuPonts and Big Bank headquarters Governor Romney would be a natural, don’t bet on it. Don’t believe me, ask Mike Castle.

    In Illinois the adult home of President Obama, he lost more counties in 2008 than he won outside the Chicago Metroland Area (where few Republicans live in the first place.) The bulk of the GOP is in the downstate area and they are hardly the Romney type. Senator Santorum was only by 4 points behind in Illinois, and that was even before he won Alabama and Mississippi.

    Finally New York and California, surely one would think listening to the mainstream media that Romney would win at least 2-1. However, remember that Carl Paladino won the New York GOP primary (for Governor) and he was hardly a moderate (talk about firebrand language.) As for California again like Illinois GOP voters don’t live en masse in the liberal enclaves of San Francisco and Hollywood. GOP numbers tend to cluster in Orange County and San Diego where Romney should do well, but Santorum could equally do well in the Valley outside LA as well as Central California in places like Bakersfield and Fresno. Even if Santorum lost but the loss beat expectations in Illinois, New York and Califorina, there would be more whispers about the Romney candidacy than already exists.

  10. Dave,
    Time will tell who is astute or not, but my understanding is that Romney is running very well with suburbanites, and it is those suburbanites who deserted the GOP in 2008, including Chicago suburbanites. You may be right regarding NJ, NY, CA, etc. We’ll know soon enough. In the end, it is a matter of delegates, not whispers.

  11. Here’s a story on Hot Air alluding to Gingrich’s big donor possibly cutting him off. This paragraph struck me:

    The question will be whether Adelson himself acknowledges that. He’s already been rumored to have pledged to support Romney if Gingrich didn’t win the nomination. He might just decide to move his very large fundraising capability to Team Romney now and focus on defeating Santorum in the primaries. That would make more sense than keeping Gingrich on life support at this point in the nomination process, especially since the primaries will be shifting away from states where social issues carry as much sway as they do in the Deep South, at least after Louisiana. If Adelson really does decide to move onto the next phase, then Gingrich’s campaign will become moribund whether he suspends it or not.

    It’s possible that Gingrich believes his big donor will move to Romney if he bows out, and that’s what’s keeping him in the race. Gingrich may have made a strategic decision that he’s ultimately be helping Romney, not Santorum, if he quits the race.

    Just something to chew on.

  12. I am a Santorum supporter but to call it straight he needs to win Pa like Gingrich needed to win Georgia and Romney Michigan. I have not heard anyone talk about it yet but not sure he can pull a win in Pa.

    The sooner Gingrich gets out the better it is for Santorum.

  13. Just to follow-up on an earlier point, there are in fact no winner-take all primaries. Several states allot a chunk of delegates based on the overall winner, and there are several party delegates awarded, but they all basically use a system where delegates are awarded based on congressional districts (three for each c.d. in the state).

    Okay, I have to amend this, because that link just showed how the state is awarded the number of delegates it has. This link shows how each state awards its delegates. Again, though, it looks like Utah is the only state with a true winner-take-all primary. I really don’t know why NJ, MD, and CA are listed as winner-take-all when clearly they are not.

  14. Mike, you certainly are right Governor Romney does well in traditional suburban areas as he did in Ohio and Michigan. However, California, New York and Illinois are a little different. It is my understanding that the Chicago Metro Area as well as the vast Los Angeles and New York metro areas has many more Democratic suburbanites than do most places. Therefore, the GOP is concentrated in other areas of those particular states as I outlined in my previous post, which is why I don’t believe one can say that Governor Romney will win by a hugh margin in those states. Paul, good point about the former Speaker and Sheldon Adelson. Newt seemed to go out of his way to compliment the former Pennsylvania Senator. I read somewhere that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich shared a very pleasant phone call last night after the primary results.

  15. I have not heard anyone talk about it yet but not sure he can pull a win in Pa.

    I believe he was up by a considerable margin last time they released polling numbers, but that was a while back.

  16. Santorum is up by 14% over Romney in PA according to Quinnipiac survey dated today. Now I’m going more carefully through the states, and I guess Delaware is also winner-take-all, as is DC. PA is tricky – it looks like it’s basically winner-take-all as well.

  17. Chris, I just checked Real Clear Politics and the RCP average for Pennsylvania through the month of February (including one poll which included Monday) has Santorum up by 15.5%. Of course, as has already been said elsewhere, this primary season is about as unpredictable as they come.

    I am encouraged by Santorum’s run thus far and if he can do well and stay standing after April 24th (which is a long way off), he will have a very strong case for the candidacy come the convention.

    In the end, I’m not sure that this whole primary season is really hurting the eventual candidates chances at beating Obama. I don’t see any of the problems being brought up concerning who is more conservative being a problem come November. The distinctions will likely be very clear and can be easily made by either candidate. Then again, I am still a rookie when it comes to discussing politics, so feel free to correct me.

  18. I’m not exactly one of those Ron Paul fans you were talking about earlier, however I work at being a true centrist, because I’m sick of the civil war (ineffective government) of the left and right.
    I believe Ron Paul is the best candidate based on his consistent record throughout the years and what he stands for.
    Less government (the government out of our homes and businesses), the constitution, no FED, improve our foreign policy, he believes in liberty and justice and fiscal responsibility, less taxes, etc.
    Obama, Newt, Santorum, Romney…pound for pound are not as good of a candidate as Ron Paul.

  19. There is no reason for Newt to get out. The Republican establishment wants Romney, who is perfectly situated to lose to Obama, when gas hits $5.00+ and then suddenly drops to the low threes, high twos following the Republican convention. If Romney manages to pull it out, then we’ll get a new boss, the same as the old boss – Bush!

    Santorum is only winning because he keeps taking words and ideas from Newt. If Newt wasn’t driving the conversation, Santorum wouldn’t have much to say. Additionally, the Democrats are salivating at a Satntorum candidacy, which is why 20% of Santorum’s numbers from last night came from Democrats at the request of Debbie Wasserman-Shultz. Santorum is the Democrat’s patsy. Wake up people.

    Newt may not be able to win, neither can Santorum and Romney is limping because he’s an empty suit. Newt ensures that Romney can’t gain 1,144 and this goes to convention. After Newt pulls Paul’s people because of his stronger stance on the Fed vis. a vis. the other two, then we’ll have the right ticket. Gingrich/Santorum – the senior and the junior. Rick will be a very effective President of the Senate and can pick up the conservative Catholic mantle in 2020.

    I am hopeful that Newt will win, I am mildly comfortable with Santorum, but I fear that as we approach 40 years of a self-inflicted holocaust, God will give us over to Moloch and Ba’al and we’ll see 4 more years of Obama and an overt persecution of the Church in America. Grab your rosaries, we’re in for a bumpy ride.

  20. Newt has no chance. Zero. And I am glad for that because I think the man is ill-suited to be president. Romney has more in common with Bush I than II, but really is different from either. Bush I’s experience and accomplishments were public sector, unlike Romney’s. And Bush II is much more ideological, whereas Romney is more of a pragmatist. Gingrich’s strong suit is that he is thoughtful, insomuch as he is full of thoughts.

  21. Yeah, that’s the problem. Why would we want a president who can think? The only one of all five in the race with not only the ability to think strategically, but a record of actuating those strategies is Newt. Of course, I suppose we have to acknowledge that BHO has been effective in bringing Christian persecution to America; however, even principled atheists agree that he has gone beyond the pale.

    Newt rising – just wait and see. If not, get on your knees and beg for Mercy.

  22. Santorum is only winning because he keeps taking words and ideas from Newt.

    Amusing, but no.

    Santorum is the Democrat’s patsy.

    Rick Santorum continues to poll evenly with Obama, as does Romney. Even Ron Paul polls well against the President. You know the one candidate that lags all others in head-to-head matchups with Obama? Newt “29% favorability rating” Gingrich. And I say that as someone who far prefers Newt to either Mitt or Paul.

    After Newt pulls Paul’s people because of his stronger stance on the Fed vis. a vis. the other two, then we’ll have the right ticket.

    Yes, their whopping 200 delegates and collective 25% of the vote are gonna take the Republican convention by storm.

    Newt has no chance. Zero.


  23. Why would we want a president who can think?

    Oh, no one doubts Newt can think. He’ll give you 15 different solutions to 10 different problems. I’m just not sure we necessarily want one with ADD.

  24. I’m not voting for a dictator, I want a president who can put forth a strategy, articulate it to the people and get Congress to debate it and send him a bill. Does that require 15 different solutions? Perhaps. Better than a one-trick pony.

    Paul – End the Fed, end the wars.

    Santorum – Rebuild the factories and behave like a Catholic while being casual about the Natural Law.

    Romney – Big Business, just be a good consumer and let the adults run the show.

    Obama – There is nothing we can’t solve by killing more babies.

    Come on, you all know that Newt is the right man at the right time. The clock is ticking and when 40 years are up – so are we.

  25. you all know that Newt is the right man at the right time.

    According to the polls, no, we don’t. But we’ll let you know as soon as we need a guy to berate the press and bluster during a debate.

  26. “Come on, you all know that Newt is the right man at the right time.”

    I have praised Newt several times on this site AK for his elequent denunciations of the manifest bias of the Mainstream Media, and I would certainly prefer him to Obama or to Romney, but he would be massacred in a general election due both to his messed up personal life and to his unerring ability to cut his own throat whenever he appears to be riding high. Newt is one of the most imaginative politicians of our day, and he would come up with a 100 new ideas a day, five of which would even have some merit, and 25 of which would land this country in deep kimchi if ever implemented. He should stick to retirement and writing imaginative alternate histories with William Forschten.

  27. The beautiful thing about our Republic (its still a Republic right?) is that we can each make our choices and God decides the outcome. Sometimes it is good, when I was young and first made it to these shores, it was morning in America. Four years ago we were duped into placing an incompetent man who hates our country in charge. Out of the five choices we have I like Dr. Paul because he brings issues to the table that are too often ignored; unfortunately, he’s a libertarian and that may look good at first, but eventually it leads to disaster and probably along the scale of the death knell of the ancien regime. I like Santorum, but I’ve only met him once and he got pissy and flustered because I accused him and his fellow Republicans of losing site of authentic conservatism and especially their profligate spending (which began as soon as they ditched Newt.) I fear that he is unprepared to defeat BHO and is likely to be managed by the Washington-Wall Street establishment. Nevertheless, he is a strong second choice for me.

    The other two, BHO and Romney, will most assuredly be a disaster and we may not survive.

    Newt can do it. Does he even have a chance of winning? Sure, why not. Stranger things have happened. The fact is that we are, at core, a conservative and Christian people. The last time we ran two conservatives against each other was at the end of the first Progressive experiment – in 1924. Reagan was never ever supposed to happen – but, he did. Newt is not Reagan, he’s Newt and in all reality, Reagan could not secure the Republican nomination today. We are a mess and a bold visionary is what is needed to institute a major course-correction.

    Either way, he needs to stay in the race because he makes all the others, even Romney, better. As far as Santorum supporters go, Newt is helping Rick and hurting Romney. That is a good thing. We cannot see tomorrow. This is a strange primary. The rules are quite different, the lay of the land has never been like this and the insider manipulations have never been worse. I want Newt not only because I think he is the best suited, but also just to upset the current order of Demopublican management of America’s decline.

    This should be a two man race – Gingrich and Santorum. The winner of that contest would obliterate Obama.

  28. This notion that Newt is a man of ideas is rubbish, but his supporters have said it enough that even his critics have begun to believe it. It’s fundamentally baloney, as Newt would say.

    What are his grand ideas and bold vision?

    A flat tax?

    Henry Hyde said it best about Newt, “Him and his new ideas—there are no new ideas!”

    I don’t know who to support between Santorum and Romney, to be honest. Santorum is such a bad campaigner I have my doubts regarding his ability to beat the president, despite what polls right now say. Romney’s marginally better.

    I despair of democracy.

  29. Francis, I pretty much agree with your take, but try to avoid despair, even of democracy — it is still the best form of government save all the others. It’s a fallen world, and we won’t fix that in 2012.

  30. “In Illinois, the adult home of President Obama, he lost more counties in 2008 than he won outside the Chicago Metroland Area (where few Republicans live in the first place.) The bulk of the GOP is in the downstate area and they are hardly the Romney type. Senator Santorum was only by 4 points behind in Illinois, and that was even before he won Alabama and Mississippi.”

    This analysis appears to be accurate. Republicans in Cook County or any of the close-in suburbs have been scarce as hen’s teeth for years, though there were and are exceptions (for example, Rep. Henry Hyde came from a suburban Congressional district).

    Meanwhile, Democrats south of I-80 are becoming an increasingly endangered species; Gov. Quinn and, more recently, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (with his proposal that ALL guns owned by state residents should be registered and the owners charged $65 a pop for that dubious privilege) have succeeded in alienating many of the downstate working-class voters that used to be reliably Dem. And voter registration overall in the Chicago area has dropped precipitously in the last few years.

    I think Santorum COULD pull off a win in Illinois if the more liberal/RINO leaning suburbanites north of I-80 decide to sit out the primary because they like none of the candidates being offered, while the more conservative and motivated downstaters turn out in droves.

  31. I’m currently reading a Romney bio, and based on that I am pretty confident in the sincerity of Romney’s pro-life convictions. As a church leader, he counseled women against having abortions, at one point showing up at a woman’s hospital room to try to talk her out of having an abortion and telling her about how a relative’s child with Down Syndrome had proven to be a blessing for the family. It’s true that he ran as a pro-choice candidate in 1994 and 2002, but when it came to actually governing he wasn’t able to follow through and govern as a pro-choicer. There are issues on which Romney’s personal instincts seem to be moderate, but abortion is not one of them.

  32. “Quite honestly, Romney offers nothing to the GOP electorate other than a warm body and nice hair to put up as an alternative to Barack Obama. Sorry, but given his ACTUAL track record, that ain’t enough to get me to pull the lever for him.”

    See that’s the problem…Conservatives who want Santorum to win can’t wrap their heads around the fact that he’s unelectable. He has virtually no chance of winning. A candidate’s electability is inversely proportional to his enemies desire to see him nominated and democrats would love a Santorum nomination.

    Another way to put it is this way, Santorum would make a fine, trustworthy, and authentically Catholic president but since the American public currently has no appetite for such a man conservatives would nominate one at their and the country’s peril.

  33. The portion of my comment that you quoted was about Mitt Romney and has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with Rick Santorum.

    My position on Mitt Romney has been the same since the first time I ever laid eyes on him in 1994. I felt the same way about him in 2008 – even back then, he was the one candidate other than Giuliani for whom I would NEVER cast a vote.

    And I don’t know where you’ve been during this election, but I’ve been saying the same thing about Romney since the days Santorum was pulling single digits and was begging to get asked questions in every debate. I was saying the same thing about Romney when I briefly flirted with supporting Hunstman. I was saying the same thing about Romney for the 5 seconds I considered Pawlenty. I was saying the same thing when I was on board with Rick Perry. In short, I’d be saying the same thing about Dullard Flip Rino REGARDLESS of who his competition was. Your focus on Santorum in response to the portion of my comment that you quoted is a complete non-sequitur and a big fat red herring.

    See that’s the problem…so-called “Conservatives” who want Romney to win can’t wrap their heads around the fact that he’s the problem – he can’t close the deal because he’s fundamentally flawed as an at-best “moderate” candidate running for the nomination of a conservative party. He has no chance of winning my vote and virtually no chance of winning the votes of countless other conservatives who simply don’t trust him and believe him to be a liberal fraud.

  34. Nice post Jay. You hit (Dim)Mitt Romney right on the head. He is a fake. He is not trustworthy. He is not conservative and sadly, neither is most of the Republican Party; hence why he is the ‘favorite’.

    We are close to a tipping point and Christians in general and Catholics specifically need to be very careful for whom we vote. Persecution is building in our land and it is not from any single man. It comes from a radical secular establishment and they use pawns like BHO and Romney to execute it on their behalf. To avoid this you need a faithful Christian or possibly a libertarian, preferable a Constitutionalist rather than an anarchist.

    Romney will lose the ‘conservative’ vote. I know that I am leaning third party if we are stupid enough to make that empty suit the nominee. I’d prefer any of the other three.

  35. so-called “Conservatives” who want Romney to win can’t wrap their heads around the fact that he’s the problem

    1. THE problem is that the federal government’s net borrowing is around about 9% of domestic product; the incumbent President disregarded the solutions a bipartisan national commission offered to repair the problem and offered nothing to replace said solution; and the competitors for his job have offered no worthwhile plans either.

    2. A secondary problem is that three of the principal candidates to replace them have never supervised anything other than their office staff and the fourth has for 18 years been given to bouts of blatant opportunism and no one knows what he really thinks (though we can be fairly sure he is not a ‘dullard’).

    Wunnerful wunnerful.

  36. “Romney will lose the ‘conservative’ vote. I know that I am leaning third party if we are stupid enough to make that empty suit the nominee”

    He certainly may lose the “cut off your nose” conservatives. Having done that too many times myself I no longer have a nose to cut off.

    This election is neither about Romney nor any bona fide conservative. The election is squarely about Obama and for that we gratefully have the opportunity to replace him. The fact that some replacements are further to the right than others is picking nits with extreme prejudice.

  37. He certainly may lose the “cut off your nose” conservatives.

    No, he is going to lose the “I don’t want to replace Obama with Obama-lite” conservatives.

    You know, Romney backers have had months to make the case for Romney, and in that time all you have managed to say – repeatedly – is that he is better than Obama and he is more electable than the others. The first point might be true – but then again who isn’t? – and the latter point is becoming more and more laughable as each day passes.

    Also, it also not enough to make the election just about the incumbent. There needs to be at least some enthusiasm for the challenger. Otherwise we might be wrapping up President Kerry’s second term.

  38. The entirety of Romney the Very Canny Businessman’s contract with conservatives (of every stripe) reads thusly:

    “Vote for me, and I won’t be Obama.”

    Which he will adhere to to the last letter. Legally and ontologically, he will not be Barack Obama.

    Paid in full.

    Which means that after he gets elected, he will be able to indulge his three proven political principles: pursuit of elective office (in 2016), indulging his craving for bipartisanship, and flinching in the face of/pandering to the left (See Minimum Wage, Indexing of; cf. “Scheme, Perry”).

    Why, he can’t do anything about the fiscal/entitlements nightmare–at least not in an election year, or the year before an election year. He’d offend the volatile swing voters to whom he actually is beholden. So, sorry about that. Ditto social issues, too. But here’s his e-mail to March for Life-rs:

    “Dear You People:

    Abortion is rather less than ideal, as a majority of polled likely voters currently agree, the margin of error being plus-minus three point five percent….”

    But at least as the country careens toward Greece/Weimar, the conservatives who voted for him can accept the solace that he is indeed not Obama.

    If the only thing that keeps the country from careening to Hell is Mitt Romney, then the Republic is dead already.

  39. Its always interesting when conservatives disagree. In principle and on most if not close to all of the issues I rather fancy most everything that is written on this here blog, by you gentlemen. Although however one might agree with such principles, in the end it is the application and the “getting there” which serves as the source of disputes.

    I like Santorum. I don’t like Romney except for his usefulness to ouster BO and will not be an apologist for him, per se. To that extent it is prudential judgment as to who is more electable in any given set of circumstances. Current political climate dictates the authentically conservative Catholic will not win. Its about the economy.

    In any event it would behoove conservatives to stand behind the eventual nominee come the general election if the goal is to preserve our nation from the existing attack from within.

  40. To that extent it is prudential judgment as to who is more electable in any given set of circumstances. Current political climate dictates the authentically conservative Catholic will not win. Its about the economy.

    Again, though, actual results and polling do not bear this out. Santorum polls just a smidgen below Romney in head-to-head matchups with Obama. When you throw in Santorum’s track record of winning difficult elections in his House and Senate races in Pennsylvania, and the fact that he is staying close to Romney in elections despite being outspent by him by several orders of magnitude, the idea that Santorum is somehow certain to lose compared to Romney just holds absolutely no water.

  41. Paul, I respect people who come to a different calculation. If it helps you, prudentially speaking, I live in a State that hasn’t voted for the Republican candidate since 1988. So, my decision on Romney makes no difference.

  42. FWIW, I live in a bluer state than Dale, so ditto for my decision. That said, I don’t know that my calculus would change if I lived ten miles to my west.

  43. Blackadder,

    If Romney is truly pro-life and he chose to run as a pro-abort (I’ve seen his speeches and he was PASSIONATELY pro-abort) then doesn’t that reveal a certain flexibility with principle and a casual relationship with truth? Do we really want to place our trust in a guy like that?

  44. I live in THE swing state, and that fact has absolutely no bearing on my decision. (In fact, in a sort of perverse way, I’m rather relishing the fact that Romney could really use my vote and that I’m going to withhold it from him.)

  45. I too reside in a mainly blue state, to commiserate with Paul Z. & Dale, so this discussion is really for political banter with fellow conservatives. I’d much prefer hearing anyone’s argument here than elsewhere.

    I’m reticent to use polls this far ahead of the election but since you raised the issue Paul Z., Real Clear Politics has Romney beating Obama in at least a few polls whereas Santorum shows no such advantage. What polls are you referencing?

    Also for Paul Z, Dale, Jay or anyone else for that matter, when you watched the debates and see Rick out articulating conservatism how do you view him carrying the conservative banner? Do you think he advances his message convincingly?

  46. If the only thing that keeps the country from careening to Hell is Mitt Romney, then the Republic is dead already.

    I appreciate your point. Just want to point out the following:

    1. He has experience with re-structurings.

    2. George Bush the Elder was quite adept at making himself appear opportunistic and silly. He performed satisfactorily in office, though not without error (e.g. David Souter). He may have been the most able chief executive we have had since Gen. Eisenhower retired to Gettysburg.

  47. when you watched the debates and see Rick out articulating conservatism how do you view him carrying the conservative banner?

    He would have been the optimal choice among the five in 1992 or 1996 or 2000. Now, not so sure.

  48. “He would have been the optimal choice among the five in 1992 or 1996 or 2000. Now, not so sure.”

    Art- hadn’t thought of it that way, but that rings true.

  49. I have about 2 minutes, so can’t look up the source, but I believe it was Rasmussen that had Romney up 2 and Santorum minus 1 on Obama. May have been Gallup. Most of the polls I’ve seen have basically had the races fairly tight.

  50. when you watched the debates and see Rick out articulating conservatism how do you view him carrying the conservative banner? Do you think he advances his message convincingly?

    1. On the whole, yes, he does. With the sad exception of the last debate, where he froze a bit in the headlights. He’s even better on the stump–for example, when my oldest son and I saw him in Michigan in February. A 45 minute speech about the economy as an organic whole, with references to the mediating institutions in civil society–it was a tour de force. Even my 9 year old son remembers the Keystone Pipeline and oil discussion to this day.

    But I will acknowledge he gets distracted and wounds himself needlessly with ricochets.

    2. He does on the stump, unfiltered. His discipline on the whole has gotten better, if still imperfect.

    I’m not going to pretend he was my first choice, or even my fourth. My first didn’t run, and the remaining three flamed out.

    He’s the best of a weak field, and under no delusions that the left can be made to like him, which saves time.

  51. Art:

    The restructuring specialist is the best argument for him, and one I can instinctively buy.

    But then I go back to the fact this is Mitt Romney we’re talking about, a man who has never been a model of walking-the-tightrope political courage.

    In fact, when I keep hearing the Romney boosters’ attacks on Santorum, and to a lesser extent even Gingrich, my rebuttal is “That is a great argument–or rather, would be, if your candidate was Bobby Jindal. But he’s not–your guy is *Mitt Romney*.”

  52. My observations of Santorum have been via the debates with occasional clips of him talking to the media. I either haven’t seen this tour de force side of him or just am looking for something else. Thanks for your observations Dale.

    He will be at my alma mater on Friday evening so maybe having the chance to see and hear him in person will provide another perspective.

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