Elisabeth Meinecke

In 2008, presidential primary hopeful Mitt Romney benefited from conservatives' "anybody but McCain" sentiment. Today, as a GOP front-runner, he's the target of a strikingly similar effort.

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From Townhall Magazine's EXCLUSIVE January feature:

On a frigid Thursday afternoon in early February 2008, hundreds of conservative activists crowded into the Omni Shoreham Hotel main ballroom in Washington, D.C., to hear an address from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor’s campaign was still reeling from a bruising Super Tuesday two nights earlier, when his chief rival—Sen. John McCain of Arizona—scored major primary victories from coast to coast. Following a rousing introduction from conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, who called him “the conservatives’ conservative,” Romney strode on stage to raucous applause. The crowd chanted his name and waved red foam baseball mitts emblazoned with his campaign logo.

But their mood was about to take an abrupt and unwelcome turn.

“If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention,” Romney said, eliciting cheers and shouts of encouragement from the audience, “I’d forestall the launch of a national campaign, and, frankly, I’d be making it easier for Sen. Clinton or Obama to win.”

An uneasy murmur rippled through the room.

“In this time of war,” he continued, “I feel I have to now stand aside.”

Before he could continue, the crowd erupted into groans and shouts of “no!” But the candidate’s mind was made up; the electoral math just wouldn’t work. Romney offered a few rah-rah bromides about fighting for conservative principles, thanked the crowd and left the stage. Shell-shocked supporters grimly filed out of the venue, some in tears. A bitter reality was sinking in. The viable “conservative’s conservative” had bowed out, clearing the path for a man who many among the party faithful regarded as an unacceptable “RINO” (Republican in name only) to capture the nomination.

Four years later, many conservative activists and media figures are again hoping to fend off a potential GOP nominee they see as insufficiently committed to the movement’s ideals. His name? Mitt Romney. ...

Read more of Guy Benson's anaylsis in the January issue of Townhall Magazine, which features:

  • -- prominent conservatives' analysis on whether Romney can win back the Right
  • -- what made him go from the Right's man in 2008 to the man they're trying to defeat

Order Townhall Magazine today to read the full report in the January issue.

 

 


Elisabeth Meinecke

Elisabeth Meinecke is TOWNHALL MAGAZINE Managing Editor. Follow her on Twitter @lismeinecke.