This isn’t about who is the most conservative candidate. The question is: Who will bring about the dramatic roll-back of government size, power and spending that’s required to avoid that iceberg? But there’s nothing in Romney’s past, or his current rhetoric, that leads me to believe he’ll do what is necessary to right the ship.
Mitt’s caution is understandable. He has the money and establishment support to outlast his opponents in the primaries if he avoids serious errors. But avoiding errors does not indicate the level of boldness we need now.
Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are fighting as if their political lives depend on it – because they do. Gingrich and Santorum spend time with the press whenever possible – in part to try to overcome Romney’s incredible monetary and establishment advantage. Meanwhile, Mitt does scheduled interviews almost exclusively.
In 2008, the campaign of then-Sen. Barack Obama made it nearly impossible for even the friendliest of media outlets to get in an unscheduled or unscripted question. At the same time, Republican nominee John McCain avoided conservative media like it was a hooker with an open lip sore. Only at the end, when desperate times required it, did McCain open himself up to national and local talk radio. It was too little, too late.
Why McCain avoided talking to radio shows with the very audience he needed to motivate, I don’t know. Maybe he thought picking Sarah Palin as vice-president was enough. He’d never been that conservative. He presented himself as a “maverick” progressive Republican, and the media ate it up – until it suited the media’s needs to throw him under the bus.
I see much of that in Romney. And it worries me. When I hear him in 2002 say he’s a moderate, that his views are “progressive,” it worries me. Again, that was 2002, not exactly a lifetime ago.
He says he’s the only electable candidate, but he’s just 1 for 3 in the Republican primaries. And, yes, he’s spent most of his life in the private sector, but that’s only because he has been unable to win most of the races he has entered.
He’d be a much better president than Barack Obama, but would he be the president we need right now?
Of course none of this will matter if Newt Gingrich wins the Florida primary next Tuesday. If that happens, Romney will have no choice but to remove some of his bubble-wrap suit and make himself more accessible. He’ll either move to the right and give more specifics about why he should be president, or show his truly “progressive” colors, which will mean he differs from the current administration only in method.
I like Newt. I’ve warmed to Santorum. Even Ron Paul has his charm (but only on spending issues), and I want to like Mitt. But after years and years of him running for president and being in the public eye, I still know little about him beyond sound bites and platitudes. Electing someone simply because he wants to be president is as foolish as electing someone with no experience and no record simply because he gives a good speech. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…