The Tea Party News Network has released their endorsement editorial just four days before the 2012 presidential election. Their choice? No one. The group is strongly opposed to another Obama term, but remains skeptical of Mitt Romney, despite knowing he is the best choice in this race. The trust but verify approach is being taken towards a Romney presidency.
"We have watched the candidates closely over the past year and are convinced that four more years of an Obama presidency would be disastrous for this country's economy and for the cause of small government," Todd Cefaratti, editor of the Tea Party News Network, said today. "We considered an endorsement of Governor Mitt Romney, but concluded that his record raises too many questions about the level of his commitment to conservative principles and limited government. The Tea Party has been burned too many times by Washington Politicians who promise change but don't deliver once elected. As the voice of Tea Party conservatives across America, we are not comfortable endorsing either major party candidate this year based solely upon hopeful rhetoric. Our approach echoes Ronald Reagan's advice on the Soviet Union: "Trust by verify.'"
"Unlike other media outlets that purport to defend the cause of the tea party, this organization is not going to fall in line behind any candidate simply because they call themselves a conservative," added Scottie Nell Hughes, a member of the editorial board and News Director of TPNN. "We have kept track of the promises made by both President Obama and Mitt Romney. Neither has yet convinced us that they truly will bring the kind of revolutionary changes to Washington that the Tea Party has demanded." Hughes took issue with the return of so-called 'Moderate Mitt' in the campaign's final weeks, a reversal of his stance during the primaries. "We saw what happened during the George W. Bush administration when Constitutional conservatism was confused with the interest of the Republican Party. They are not one and the same."
While praising Romney for articulating the case for smaller government, the News Network also pointed to a number of issues that have raised "concern" about Romney's commitment to the Tea Party agenda. They include his movement away from across the board tax relief, recent refusal to stand behind comments to reform FEMA and return more control to local governments, and a top aides notorious "Etch-A-Sketch" comment in regard to Romney campaign promises. Romney's earlier record as Governor and as a political candidate also provided cause for viewing him with "ambivalence."
Todd Cefaratti today said he understood that a vast majority of Tea Party members will vote for Romney as the best choice among the available alternatives. And he held out hope that the organization might endorse Romney in 2016. But he also vowed to release a list of Romney's campaign promises and to serve as "vigilant watchdog" of the Romney administration should it come into power. "Starting on day one of a Romney administration, as with the Obama administration, we'll be vigilant watchdogs for the Tea Party and for the conservatives across the country," he said.
I'm not really sure it's fair to start comparing a Romney presidency to Reagan's approach to the Soviet Union, but I do appreciate the skepticism of TPNN even for a Republican candidate and possible president.