<em>NR</em>: From Pat to Mitt in 15 Years ...

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Dec 20, 2007 9:40 AM


Yesterday, National Review hosted a conference call to explain their decision to endorse Mitt Romney for president.  I was fortunate enough to be on the call. 

The fact that a conference call was necessary probably underscores the point that their decision was a bit controversial.  The call was also nearly hijacked by an anti-Romney gadfly named Brian Camenker.  Camenker runs a group in Massachusetts called, "MassResistance."  He asked numerous questions during the call, and at one point, Kate O'Beirne angered him by noting that she didn't find his group terribly credible. 

But I digress ...

Regarding Romney's supposed "flip-flops," Rich Lowry said: "It just comes down to whether you believe Romney -- or not -- and we do."  He also noted that "... everyone has moved right in this race." 

Ramesh Ponnuru, who has written favorably and extensively about John McCain, noted that most of McCain's wounds were "self-inflicted." He also referenced Romney's business and executive experience as a reason why Romney was the better pick.  When a candidate has never "run" something before, Ponnuru explained, you pay special attention to the way they run their campaign.  McCain's campaign, of course, had plenty of problems, and thus, Ponnuru lost confidence in his ability to run other things. 

(McCain would probably argue that he was a military leader responsible for the lives of others, and that should trump running the Olympics, at least.)

Regardless of whether or not you like Mitt Romney, his endorsement is a clear signal that National Review has evolved into a more mainstream publication.  Their endorsement of Romney says: "Our guiding principle has always been to select the most conservative viable candidate," but as John Seiler notes, in 1972, NR endorsed John Ashbrook, and in '92, NR endorsed Pat Buchanan over President George H.W. Bush. 

Mitt Romney is a long way from Pat Buchanan ...