My choice for President is Mitt Romney.
I just shuddered at that statement.
But there it is. There is the reality that 13 debates, months of bickering and intrigue, and countless discussions with conservative brethren have brought me.
It is kind of a sad reality. Is this the best conservatives could do?
So here has been my calculation for who I would support, from the beginning. First, the candidate must be electable and able to defeat Barack Obama, both electorally and intellectually. Second, they must broaden the base of the Republican Party, both on the conservative and moderate sides. Third, they must be economically intelligent and have a pro-growth plan that will overturn the Obama economic disaster. And fourth, because of the Obama experiment, they must show some executive level experience.
If you look at our current crop of candidates, the Congressional candidates (Paul, Bachmann, Santorum) all lack significant executive experience. Newt Gingrich could be argued to have some executive experience as Speaker of the House, but that is stretching the definition to the breaking point.
I think all of our candidates have more of a pro-growth plan than Barack Obama.
As for broadening the base, this is the one I had the hardest time with. For example, Mitt Romney. He would definitely appeal to independents and moderates who like a milquetoast candidate. Could he broaden his conservative wing? I think he could, but that is a hard slog for him. Could Newt Gingrich, who has years of baggage and is relatively well known, broaden his likability among moderates? Doubtful. Can Rick Perry overcome his stumbles and convince non-conservatives that he is intelligent? Unlikely. In short, I am not sure any of our candidates significantly broaden the party.
As for electability, as time has gone on, it is clear that Paul, Bachmann, Santorum, and Cain would have great difficulty defeating Obama, both electorally and intellectually.
So after all of that angst, you are basically left with potential candidates Romney, Perry, and Gingrich.
But after Perry’s stumble after stumble in the debates, I can see him getting torn apart by Barack Obama in debates, in a style reminiscent of what Reagan did to Mondale. I really wanted to like Perry, but he has never risen to the occasion. His brightest moment was when he presented his tax plan, and he never showed another policy initiative as grand. And he still appears more a caricature than the man that longtime supporters of him describe.
The best qualified candidate of the remaining opposition to Romney is Newt Gingrich. All things being equal, Gingrich would get my vote. But all things are not equal. Every time I think Gingrich can leave his past behind, something comes up. He cannot seem to keep his mouth out of the way of his campaign. And he has been on top for about a month, and I am already fatigued trying to defend every new story about him. I can’t imagine what another year of this would feel like. Gingrich, ultimately, is a paper tiger. He is the most well spoken of the group, bar none. But is he really a conservative? Is he, for that matter, even more conservative than Mitt Romney? I am far from convinced of this. And ultimately, he was the decisive argument for me between the two: while Gingrich’s sacrifice of conservative principles largely came while he was in his own think tank with no outside pressures whatsoever, Romney’s betrayal came while surround by a horde of liberals looking to take a piece of him at every turn in the most liberal state government in the Union. It is not an excuse for sacrificing his conservative ideals, so much as an explanation that makes far more sense than Newt sitting on a bench with Nancy Pelosi.
It comes down to this. I have been waiting for the better part of 4 years for someone, anyone, to show me to be the standard bearer of the Conservative revolution initially started by Ronald Reagan 3 decades ago…and these group of candidates have failed. I was waiting for a Mike Pence, John Thune, even a Jeb Bush to step forward and take the helm. They all took a pass, for one reason or another. And so we are left with the current crop of candidates, despite all of our objections.
The last debate in December was a sort of epiphany. That epiphany was that none of the non-Romney candidates was going to turn into Ronald Reagan. Ever. Maybe this wasn’t an epiphany so mach as facing up to the reality. Oh, sure, there are a few Perry fanatics and Bachmann lovers still out there. They will probably hold on until the California primary. But both have stumbled too many times, and too consistently, to be considered serious any more. Bachmann’s Politifact nonsense from the last debate was the last string for me. As for Perry, if he was this good in debates in August and September, he would be the leader. But it just seems to be too little, too late. Too many missed opportunities, with too much of his buffoonery now baked into the social consciousness. Santorum has never made the sale. And Ron Paul is…Ron Paul. Fascinating on pure market economics and libertarian views, but he lives in an alternate universe on foreign affairs. Jon Huntsman is a non-entity.
Almost makes you wonder if Tim Pawlenty, who was my early leader, left the race way too early, no?
So we are left with Willard Mitt Romney.
I know. My friends that read here will say this is a sellout. Maybe it is. But logically, without any knee jerk reactions, I don’t see any way around this. I have for months begged others and myself to come to a conclusion that is different. But I simply can’t.
But here is, ultimately my logic.
I don’t think many people will rationally argue that Romney is unelectable. He certainly is. His record as governor is admirable for one of the bluest states in the union, and he has been in politics long enough to be adequately vetted.
Romney would likely pull a lot of independent voters. My really concern is, would he broaden the conservative bloc? I am far from sure about this. My conservative brethren have a deep and well developed distaste for Romney, and I am unsure if Romney can overcome it. But I think ultimately, our hatred of Mr. Obama’s liberal policies will unify the right.
Romneycare is the biggest hurdle. Will Romney really stand for states rights? I honestly believe he will. I don’t think he will ever be the opponent to government health care we want, so don’t even propose such a thought. But our goal is to end the mandate on a federal scale. I believe Romney will be an ally in this small, marginal victory.
Economically speaking, Romney actually is the most well spoken and practical of the bunch. Although he does not support more radical reforms in D.C. such as Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan, he also has a more traditional approach put forward, which would do a lot of good in rolling back Obamanomics. Romney likely would support a more radical conservative agenda for the economy if we can show there are votes in Congress for such a plan.
Furthermore, Romney has really show increased maturity on the campaign trail over the past few months. What was a wooden caricature earlier in the year now shows some humor, fraility, and joviality. His recent Fox News Sunday interview with Chris Wallace showed a comfortable, relaxed, and human Mitt.
Last, and certainly not least, we found under George W. Bush that even a relatively well intentioned President needs to be reigned in by Congress. A Republican Congress failed to do that for Bush…it needs to learn its lesson, and keep Romney on a tight leash. Without that, no man sitting in the Oval Office can be trusted completely.
So, after all that explanation, I endorse Mitt Romney. I am not happy about it, and can’t believe it has come to this. And I am sure a lot of my friends on the internet will wonder if I have lost my senses completely. But Romney is a good man, a better man than the one sitting in the Oval Office by far. And if he wins the nomination, it is time for Republicans unify, even if it is for this flawed candidate.