WILL GOP BAIL ON ROMNEY?
By Scott I. Williams
Communications Director, 5th District Democrats
The old man from Kansas is still mad about it. Bob Dole is still angry that his Republican party abandoned him in 1996, when it opted to save its control of Congress and let Bill Clinton take the election.
That was almost two decades ago. However, what happened then – party elders bailed on Dole and opted to put money where they felt it was best spent – could happen today. It’s simple economics. Don’t put your money behind a loser.
As Republicans find themselves faced with the increasingly unpopular option of backing Mitt Romney – a candidate that many people flat out dislike – they also will be looking at an even tougher choice. Should they give in to fate and admit that they do not have a candidate who can beat Barak Obama? Should they, instead, throw their effort into making sure they hold the House, and, perhaps, win the Senate?
It’s not a new strategy for Republicans. They did it in 1964, too, when they deserted Barry Goldwater in the face of overwhelming odds.
Already, some Republican stalwarts are bailing out. Michael Steele, former Republican Party chair, admitted on MSNBC as Super Tuesday results were rolling in, “They are just not buying what Romney has been selling.”
That quintessential Republican columnist, George Will of the Washington Post, writes: “[T]here would come a point when … conservatives turn their energies to a goal much more attainable than … electing Romney or Santorum president. It is the goal of retaining control of the House and winning control of the Senate… [C]onservatives this year should have as their primary goal making sure Republicans wield all the gavels in Congress in 2013,” according to Politico .
Sure, there is still a race going on. Rick Santorum thinks he can win, against the odds. So do, apparently, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. No one ever said Republicans were good at facing reality.
Talk is fading that Mitch Daniels or Chris Christie or Jeb Bush (or Sarah Palin!?!) might come in as a white knight to save Republicans’ hopes for the White House.
Sure, I am future-tripping a bit, here. The Republican establishment might all jump on the Romney bandwagon and he’ll sail through the remaining primaries to nomination, without a brokered convention. Yeah, and the earth will turn backwards tomorrow.
Let’s look at the Romney-Dole comparison a little more closely. It was 1996 (a leap year). Hamas and Israel were fighting. The Greek government was in turmoil. Osama Bin Laden declares jihad on Americans in Saudi Arabia. A whole boatload of Republicans squabbled over their presidential candidacy. At one point or another, Dole, Steve Forbes, Richard Lugar, Phil Gramm and Lamar Alexander, Alan Keyes, Bob Dornan, Pete Wilson, Arlen Specter, Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Morry Taylor and Pat Buchanan were among early presidential possibilities.
Dole won the free-for-all and wound up trying to unseat Clinton, a hugely popular president. Dole had plenty of experience in the federal government – something Romney does not have. And he got crushed by Clinton, 49 percent to 41 percent.
So how is Romney supposed to fare any better? He just got crunched in the Deep South. If Romney can outspend his main opponent 10-to-1 in Ohio and still only beat Santorum by a hair, if Romney can only win the most important state on Super Tuesday by a slim margin, how can he possibly beat a sitting president who is winning in the polls without even launching a serious campaign?
The answer is simple: He can’t. Even this far into the primaries, Republicans are looking for an alternative. Why? Because Mitt Romney is a loser. He has no pizzazz, no soul. He campaigns like a web mop, yesterday’s leftover mashed potatoes.
Already, Romney and the party have alienated women, Hispanics and many Independents. After Super Tuesday, add to that the fact that the blue-collar vote, conservatives and evangelical Christians are torn. The vote in the Deep South for Santorum only reinforced that trend.
Republicans are only agreed on one thing: Their main guy cannot win. To expect the big Republican money to keep supporting him all the way to the November is flying in the face of history.