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Romney’s 2008 Problem

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Matt thinks Mittens has a good chance of getting the 2012 nomination:

I think it’s worth recalling that Mitt Romney won National Review’s endorsement in 2008 explicitly on the theory that he was equally conservative as Fred Thompson and more conservative than the others. Rush Limbaugh also endorsed him.

[…]

But even though anti-Mormon sentiment will be a drag on Romney, it’s not obvious that any one person in particular can capitalize on it. So to me it really circles back to whether radio hosts will buy Romney as a conservative, which I think they might.

To me, though, this argument is close to self-refuting. After all, Romney had these key endorsements in 2008…and went to the convention with fewer delegates than Mike Huckabee. So obviously these endorsements can’t be all that important. And it would be one thing if he lost to an overpowering favorite, but he didn’t. It’s not strictly accurate to say that McCain was the Republican Lieberman — he had an (inexplicable to me) charisma and appeal to independents that Lieberman didn’t — but he was viewed as a Lieberman-like traitor by a lot of the Republican base, and of course the talk show host community hated him. (Yes, he for the most part had an orthodox Republican voting record — but in 2004 Lieberman had if anything a more orthodox Democratic voting record.) It was, in other words, a field that was wide open, and Romney — although his health care policy wasn’t yet a liability — still lost it pretty badly. I just don’t see any way that he can beat a plain vanilla conservative who runs a halfway decent campaign.

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