In a great piece yesterday at Townhall, John Hawkins debunked the “Romney is the electable candidate” myth being pushed by Multiple Choice Mitt’s apologists in the media and GOP establishment.
Mitt Romney was a moderate governor in Massachusetts with an unimpressive record of governance. He left office with an approval rating in the thirties and his signature achievement, Romneycare, was a Hurricane Katrina style disaster for the state. Since that’s the case, it’s fair to ask what a Republican who’s not conservative and can’t even carry his own state brings to the table for GOP primary voters. The answer is always the same: Mitt Romney is supposed to be “the most electable” candidate. This is a baffling argument because many people just seem to assume it’s true, despite the plethora of evidence to the contrary.
1) People just don’t like Mitt:The entire GOP primary process so far has consisted of Republican voters desperately trying to find an alternative to Mitt Romney. Doesn’t it say something that GOP primary voters have, at one time or another, preferred Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and now even Ron Paul (In Iowa) to Mitt Romney?
To some people, this is a plus. They think that if conservatives don’t like Mitt Romney, that means moderates will like him. This misunderstands how the process of attracting independent voters works in a presidential race. While it’s true the swayable moderates don’t want to support a candidate they view as an extremist, they also don’t just automatically gravitate towards the most “moderate” candidate. To the contrary, independent voters tend to be moved by the excitement of the candidate’s base (See John McCain vs. Barack Obama for an example of how this works). This is how a very conservative candidate like Ronald Reagan could win landslide victories. He avoided being labeled an extremist as Goldwater was; yet his supporters were incredibly enthusiastic and moderates responded to it.
To everybody else on the right, Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama would be a “lesser of two evils” election where we’d grudgingly back Mitt because we wouldn’t lose as badly with him in the White House as we would with Obama. That’s not the sort of thing that gets people fired up to make phone calls, canvass neighborhoods, or even put up “I heart Mitt” signs in their yards.
2) He’s a proven political loser: There’s a reason Mitt Romney has been able to say that he’s “not a career politician.” It’s because he’s not very good at politics. He lost to Ted Kennedy in 1994. Although he did win the governorship of Massachusetts in 2002, he did it without cracking 50% of the vote. Worse yet, he left office as the 48th most popular governor in America and would have lost if he had run again in 2006. Then, to top that off, he failed to capture the GOP nomination in 2008. This time around, despite having almost every advantage over what many people consider to be a weak field of candidates, Romney is still desperately struggling. Choosing Romney as the GOP nominee after running up that sort of track record would be like promoting a first baseman hitting .225 in AAA to the majors.
To read the remaining five reasons Romney can’t beat Obama, some of which we’ve discussed at length in the past, read Hawkins’ entire piece here. I would also add an eighth reason: ObamaCare. Support for ObamaCare has dropped to the high twenties, and to be successful in the general election, the Republican candidate will have to exploit that fact. This will be one of the Republican’s most important arguments. However, with a Romney candidacy the GOP will be forced to leave that issue, one of Obama’s greatest vulnerabilities, on the table. How can Romney credibly attack ObamaCare when his one and only accomplishment as Governor, RomneyCare, formed its basis? He can’t, and his attempts to do so will only cement his well-deserved reputation as a phony, flip-flopping politician who’s willing to do and say anything to realize his decade long quest to be president. Voters know a flim-flam salesman when they see one, and that’s a big reason why the Mittster’s electoral record is 5-22.
Update: This morning on Fox and Friends, Mitt demonstrated why ObamaCare will be off the table if he’s the nominee by defending government required health care mandates as a conservative principle. Video and transcript here.
Update II: Tina Korbe at Hot Air Makes the same point regarding Romney’s ill-conceived comments today: If Mitt’s the nominee, Obama will effectively receive a free pass on ObamaCare as his justification for a government imposed mandate is no different that Mitt’s (emphasis mine):
From the beginning, Romney has not handled the Romneycare topic the way many conservatives wished he would. He could have swiftly disavowed it entirely as one of the failed experiments to come out of those noted “laboratories of democracy,” the states. But, instead, he attempted to make the case that Romneycare made sense on some level.
Are comments like Romney’s today compatible with a true commitment to repeal? It’s very hard to tell.
What is most aggravating about Romney’s comments today, though, is that they make it that much easier for the Democratic National Committee and the Obama campaign to eliminate this issue in the general if Romney is the nominee. Thanks to Romney and Gingrich and their repeated attempts to characterize the individual mandate as a conservative concept, one of Obama’s most vulnerable spots has received a thick coat of armor.
Indeed. An incumbent president, even an unpopular one, is difficult enought to beat. Why make it even more difficult by nominating Romney and thus, removing a key weapon from our arsenal?
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