Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Romney About to Take Off

Weekly Presidential Politics - 11/07/07

I tried to tell you. I did. I tried to tell you in April, and I tried to tell you in August. Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States.

Although the national polls will not reflect this certainty until the end of January, and although his nomination will not be sewn up until the month after, this is the week where Mitt Romney turned the corner.

Paul Weyrich, who with the passing of Jerry Falwell is perhaps the foremost figurehead of evangelical Christians and social conservatives, has endorsed Romney.

And why not? With Rudy Giuliani’s national lead in Republican polls not diminishing, the conservative bloc is in danger of their party nominating a social liberal who’s pro-choice, pro-gay, and compared to the rest of the Republican field, unfriendly to the second amendment.

So how do they slow the Giuliani train? Quite simply, they cannot. That is, unless they can unite behind another candidate. All year, the paramount problem of Republican voters was the lack of a clear cut conservative alternative who was not only in lockstep with the right, but also whose legitimacy was not limited to their home state. Brownback, Hunter, Tancredo, Tommy Thomson and Gilmore were conservative but had no chance (as stated by this blogger numerous times). Huckabee was intriguing and the most talented candidate of the second tier, but didn’t have the money (also stated numerous times by this blogger). Paul was talented and entertaining but the party could not let a dovish Republican get nominated (yup). Thompson had been out of politics and was clearly a paper tiger (hit on the head by this blogger numerous times). The Right’s problems with McCain are notorious. Romney’s a Mormon who pandered to Democrats in Massachusetts.

So the Republican Party was splintered. A clear plurality were satisfied supporting the foreign policy and quasi-fiscal conservative former mayor of New York City, while ten other candidates divvied the constituency who said they could get at least that type of conservatism from nearly any Republican candidate.

Soon, however, it will be time to unify. For the Republican base to find their perfect candidate, it only takes one leap of faith, and this leap of faith has nothing to do with religion. Has Romney truly changed his mind on abortion? Running for Senate and Governor of Massachusetts during the 90's, Romney came out as a pro-choice candidate. Since then, however, Romney has said he's seen and learned some things that have changed him into a staunch pro-life advocate. The question for Republican voters: Do you believe him? If so, that's your candidate.

That is Mr. Weyrich's conclusion, and that decision will go a long way in convincing conservatives to pledge their allegiance to Romney. After all, Romney is a Protestant, as 41 of the 42 men to hold the office of POTUS have been. Sure, he's a different kind of Protestant than Protestant Americans (52% of the country and 2/3 of American Christians) are used to, but he's stressed that Mormonism will not impact his decisions as chief executive. If you recall, Catholic John Kennedy made a similar plea in 1960, and Kennedy's mea culpa made his Catholicism all but a non-issue in his victory over Richard Nixon.

All of this, combined with his unparalleled Republican money, not to mention his enormous lead in Iowa and New Hampshire, will propel him to a very strong showing on the fifth of February (SuperDuper Tuesday). After taking the first two states, effectively eliminating every candidate but himself and Giuliani, everyone leaning Romney will run to Romney. By the middle of February, Giuliani concedes and Mitt Romney becomes the Republican nominee.

I tried to tell you.


Stephen said...

NY Times Magazine recently profiled the changing state of evangelism in America. The article is at

Evangelicals burned the Democratic Party in the past two elections. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice...

The article begins with an example of a right-wing pastor being booted out of his own church. The article goes on to cite similar examples across the country, a general disillusionment with support of a certain political party. "When you mix politics and religion," one leader said, "you get politics."

I liked this passage:
Most conservative Christian leaders have resolutely supported Bush's foreign policy. Dobson and others have even talked about defending Western civilization from radical Islam as a precondition for protecting family values. But on the eve of the Iraq invasion, Hybels preached a sermon called "Why War?" Laying out three approaches to war — realism, just-war theory and pacifism — he implored members of his congregation to re-examine their own thinking and then try to square it with the Bible. In the process, he left little doubt about where he personally stood. He called himself a pacifist.

Hybels traced the "J curve" of mounting deaths from war through the centuries. "In case you are wondering about this, wonder how God feels about all this," he said. "It breaks the heart of God."

Noting these developments, I don’t think the Paul Weyrich endorsement means so much as Falwell’s did four years ago.

darren said...

I think these early and large leads for Rudy & Hilary have inflated their egos. Both are definitely moving towards the center (i.e. Hilary voting to approve measure authorizing President to act on Iran and Rudy remaining pro-choice). Neither are playing to the bases of the parties, they're campaigning as if the general election has started already. Once again Ian, you have provided us with wisdom.

IC said...

Stephen, while I appreciate and admire your research, your conclusion does not take into consideration that the Weyrich situation does more than just attract some conservatives into camp Romney, but also serves as an example of what many Republicans will end up doing: run to the conservative alternative that will block a Giuliani nomination.

Darren, I hear you on the moderation of the poll leaders. However, barring a miraculous Iowa run by Edwards or Obama (unlikely, but not impossible), Hillary can't be stopped in the primary. It's the Giuliani nomination that is not sewn up.

Connecticut Man1 said...

I had to laugh when Pat Robertson came out and endorsed Rudy. Rudy was leading the polls in CT(for the wingnut vote and last time I checked), but with backers like that he may lose what little bit of ground he had. And he just doesn't have the cred to make up that little loss with wacky christianists in the bible belt no matter how many Robertsons bless him.