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Viguerie on NPR – There’s No Conservative Case for Romney

Today I had the pleasure of appearing on National Public Radio’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook to discuss “the conservative case for Mitt Romney” with Tom, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson and for the last half hour of the show, Ryan Hecker, formerly with the Houston Tea Party, now Chief Operating Officer of FreedomWorks of America.

It was a good conversation, not only because Ashbrook, Gerson and Hecker had some interesting observations about the current Republican presidential nomination process, but because the callers confirmed one of my major concerns about the potential nomination of Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate for President -- namely, that many conservatives and Tea Partiers would be unlikely to vote for Romney in the general election.

Of the dozen or so callers who spoke on the show, only one said he was for Romney, and the rest, when asked, either equivocated or indicated they would not vote for Romney even against Barack Obama.

While this seemed to be something of a surprise to our host Tom Ashbrook -- it was no surprise to me, or to Tea Partier Ryan Hecker, who predicted Romney would get “zero” Tea Party support in the primary, and here’s why.

Romney has been stuck in the mid-twenties for the entire five years he has been running for President. This is about the same number of Republicans who do not self-identify as conservatives.

The 75 percent or so of Republican primary voters who back one of the other candidates already know Romney, and they don’t like what the see. It's not because Romney doesn’t have the skills to be President, but because Republican primary voters don’t trust him to govern according to conservative principles.

Romney fails the conservative “trust test” for a number of reasons.

First, because of his record in Massachusetts, where he was behind the coercive health care law, raising taxes and abandoning the conservative social agenda. Second, because he has flip-flopped on these and many other issues, bringing into question his character. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, because personnel is policy and Romney’s team is at best a group of establishment Republicans, and at worst a group of big government technocrats -- both of whom will never make any effort to fundamentally reform Washington’s culture of spending and crony capitalism.

And the importance of personnel as policy should not be underestimated. When Ronald Reagan ran for President, conservatives could look at his team and see people they had known from the conservative movement for 10 or 15 years. We conservatives knew Reagan would govern as a conservative because we knew the people who he would bring with him -- but when I once put the question of who were the conservatives on his team directly to Governor Romney, he blew it off.

Michael Gerson and Tom Ashbrook’s answer to this criticism was first to try to make the case that Romney did indeed have conservative advisors. The problem is, his list was made up of corporate lobbyists and Wall Street-types who actually proved my point -- if the next Republican President enters the White House surrounded by Fortune 500 CEOs, then conservatives will once again have won the election for the Republicans, but lost the battle to reform Washington.

Another interesting element of our discussion was the extent to which both Gerson and Ashbrook seemed to buy into the notion that the way to win an election is to run a content-free campaign aimed at the mythical “center” of the American electorate.

As I heard Michael Gerson, it seemed that he was saying to win, Republicans needed to focus on competence, not ideology -- and that Romney was the perfect vessel for this sort of content-free campaign.

This concept of content-free campaigns is why Republican presidential candidates, from Jerry Ford, to Bob Dole, to the Bushes, to John McCain, have been at war with the conservative base of the Party for most of the past 40 years.

Tom Ashbrook, on the other hand, seemed incredulous when I pointed out that Barack Obama and the Democrats do not run as centrists -- they run as unabashed liberals who want “fundamental change” for America, and are not shy about saying that change should include more government, more spending and less individual choice for average Americans.

All-in-all, it was an interesting discussion. I think Michael Gerson made a great case for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney being an establishment Republican, but failed to offer much evidence that Romney is a conservative -- or that he would govern as a conservative -- and the callers to On Point and Ryan Hecker of FreedomWorks of America certainly seemed to agree.

As I noted on the show, Republicans, like the Biblical Jews, have been fated to wander in the desert until the generation of flawed leaders that brought them to the brink of annihilation has passed away. Conservatives and Tea Partiers have brought the Republican Party back to the point where the promised land of an historic wave election is in sight, but that opportunity may be lost if the GOP hews to the old establishment ways and old establishment leaders.

Voters don’t want pale pastels; they want bold colors that will draw a clear contrast with Obama and the big spending, big government liberalism he represents.

In Mitt Romney, Republicans have an intentionally content-free presidential candidate who can garner no more than 20 to 25 percent of the primary vote, and who is at war with the conservative base of the Republican Party. But for the first time in 40 years, Republicans have abolished the winner-take-all primary system until April 1st, and given the new system’s potential for lengthening the nomination process, other candidates can and very likely will come back. With Romney stuck in the twenties, the Republican nomination may not be decided until the convention. This means Romney is not “inevitable,” and there is no reason why conservatives and Tea Partiers have to once again settle for an establishment nominee.

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Romney

Romney is NOT my kind of conservative! ! !

Romney

A Romney nomination will ensure an Obama victory.  The Republican Party lost its way long ago.  It seems we are destined to get back to a Constitutional Republic THE HARD WAY...when it's either that or the complete destruction of the U.S.

There is NO way I can vote for another RINO!

After signing far too many left-oriented (of course, with our lopsided legislature, there was never anything else to sign...but he could have vetoed them if he wanted to show he had any values!!!) Mitt left us MA citizens in the lurch - his short 'visits' to the governor's office were NOT anything to brag about!  His term was spent campaigning for national office and there is NO way I will hold my nose and vote for him.  I will stay home first!

Same Destination

If Romney is the nominee, I will vote for Obama. Same destination. Obama will just get us off the cliff faster. Then we can start over. 

As they say...

Dead nuts on! Ron Paul is the only non establishment type running and the republocrats are earnestly pushing as hard as they can to get him out of the running... so why not re-elect Obummer and let the revolution begin sooner! LOL I kind of like the way you think!

Let's Grow the Party - Not Meld Into Oblivian.

Pat Buchanan has done a great servie to the party by showing us where it is headed unless we make fundamental changes.  If we are truly the party of limited, constitutional government we have a good shot at attracting and retaining new members.  If we simply choose to be a War party vs. a Welfare Party and spend like the Socialist-Democrat party we will fail.  If we reject the segment of  college youth of America that also want a limited, constitutional governement we will fail.  Our message should be uplifting and full of hope for the future.  We need to paint a picture indeed.  A picture of a free and open society where any one can make it without having to rely on the government.  This is a vision we can sell, we can sell Liberty.  No matter the true intent of the current Republican establishment, our competitors can simply label us:  The Party that wants endless wars and hates poor people.  Again, I am not saying that IS the truth, only that it will be all to easy to sell.  Obama offered "real change", a further movement toward his socialist ideal.  We need to offer real change, a further move toward a nation that values Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Hapiness by the Individual, free of increasing government control.


Cleveland, Ohio


 

Romney

As a committed conservative I will vote for whichever candidate that leads the pack vs. Romney. If he gains the nomination I will either vote for the libertarian candidate or the constitutional party candidate. In no way would I vote for Romney. He does not represent a change of direction for the country, only a slowing down of the change in the same progressive direction. That is how we got to where we are today and four more years of disaster under Obama would, in twenty years, be less harmful.

Presidential Qualifications - Not

Those of you that post that the Conservatives running for president do not have the qualifications to be president forget how low that bar was set when Barack was elected.  Unfortunately the bar can now be walked over, so that is no argument.  But, I believe that the founding fathers had it right when they said elect moral people that have proved themselves in the private sector first.  Then when the cream rises to the top, skim it, and ask these people to serve their time.  Then go home.  We have good candidates that are preaching Constitutional Fundamentals that Love America.  That qualifies them.

New Book: Mitt Romney's Deception - Gay Rights & Gay Marriage

Don't ignore Romney's violation of the Mass. Constitution when he implemented "gay marriage" without legislative authorization? He kowtowed to an illegitimate Court ruling, against the clear separation of powers laid out in the Constitution. He supported Kevin Jennings' "Safe Schools" programs in the Mass. schools, including his own "Governor's Commission on Gay & Lesbian Youth" - even issuing proclamations for GLBT Youth Pride events. And much more documented in MITT ROMNEY'S DECEPTION:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwwcAa6nHm4

http://www.amycontrada.com/Romney_book.html

I'm a fiscal, defense, and

I'm a fiscal, defense, and values conservative.  My top issue priorities among the many I care about are middle and upper middle class private sector jobs creation and government spending within our means.  I strongly support Mitt Romney.


I'm surprised you can't make a conservative case for Romney.  I can.  Romney does as he campaigns.  What you hear from him is what he'll do.  He's a man of impeccable integrity.  So when he talked about his conservative "3 legged stool" 4 years ago--he meant it.  With certain issues taking precedent having changed in priority since then his focus has shifted bue he's campaigning consistently with 4 years ago.


Can you tell me any issue now or 4 years ago he's campaigning as a liberal or moderate?  On values he's stated he'll nominate original intent conservative justices--Robert Bork leads his legal team currently.  He took the traditional marriage pledge.  On economics he's a tax, government regulation, and mandate cutter looking to take a scalpel to government spending as he did in Massachusetts understanding why so many companies are offshore outsourcing jobs overseas trying to correct it.  He's for increasing defense spending--only candidate to state so--wanting our military to be the best on Earth in the face of a growing Chinese military.


So here's where you guys have missed the mark.  Romney governs as he campaigns, or more conservatively.  He's a principled man of his word.  When he tells you he's going to do something, he does.  He's a turnaround specialist doing so with the Olympics and Massachusetts.  He donated back his entire Olympics salary to the Olympics, and paid himself $1 dollar as Governor of Massachusetts his 4 years there bringing in his own furniture.


I'll vote for whoever the GOP nominee is.  But our best chance of electing another Ronald Reagan--the reason I became a Republican as a Reagan Democrat--far and away is Mitt Romney.  What he campaigns on, he does.


Bill

Romney is the best choice

I'm a fiscal, defense, and values conservative.  My top issue priorities among the many I care about are middle and upper middle class private sector jobs creation and government spending within our means.  I strongly support Mitt Romney.  Withough quality private sector jobs creation in the US, we're done as a country.


I'm surprised Tea Partiers/Conservatives can't make a conservative case for Romney.  I can.  Romney does as he campaigns.  What you hear from him is what he'll do.  He's a man of impeccable integrity.  So when Romney talked about his conservative "3 legged stool" 4 years ago that Rush said he was the only one running on Reagan's conservative mantle--he meant it.  With certain issues taking precedent having changed in priority since then his focus has shifted bue he's campaigning consistently with 4 years ago.


Can anyone state any any issue now or 4 years ago he's campaigned as a liberal or moderate?  On values he's stated he'll nominate original intent conservative justices--Robert Bork heads his legal team currently.  He took the traditional marriage pledge.  On economics he's a tax, government regulation, and mandate cutter looking to take a scalpel to government spending as he did in Massachusetts understanding why so many companies are offshore outsourcing jobs overseas trying to correct it.  He's for increasing defense spending--only candidate to state so--wanting our military to be the best on Earth in the face of a growing Chinese military.


So here's where you guys have missed the mark.  Romney governs as he campaigns, or more conservatively.  He's a principled man of his word.  When he tells you he's going to do something, he does.  He's a turnaround specialist doing so with the Olympics and Massachusetts.  He donated back his entire Olympics salary to the Olympics, and paid himself $1 dollar as Governor of Massachusetts his 4 years there bringing in his own furniture.


I'll vote for whoever the GOP nominee is.  But our best chance of electing another Ronald Reagan--the reason I became a Republican as a Reagan Democrat--far and away is Mitt Romney.  What he campaigns on, he does.


And if the Tea Party/Conservatives are so provincial as to sit it out helping Obama win next year, you'll be in my sights as I'll fully blame you for behaving as children.


Bill

romney

romney blew it in Mass. he would do no better in DC. i do not know anyone who will vote for him.

Who Then?

The notion that anyone on the candidate list, save Romney, is qualified to be president is an interesting assertion.  Richard is right, Romney is surrounded to the usual suspects.  In foreign policy they are, at best, the second or third team from the Bush administrations with a few exceptions.  The several that I know are simply incompetent.  But if not Mitt then who?  Newt is presidential?  Qualifications are more than experience.  They are wisdom and judgement in managing people, something that Newt fails utterly.  Pizzaman?  Come on.  Commerce Secretary maybe.  Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachman?  Too extreme, so unelectable.  Huntsman?  Great guy, but 2% in the polls.  Rick Perry?  The best you can say is a work in progress.  The worst is what he is a corporate sellout (a Texan's words, not mine but remember the bad math on some corporate buyout).  So who?  Give me a name, and this is to Richard more than any commentator.  Richard you wrote the article, give us an answer.

Romney

The most interesting part of the above attack on Ronmey is the back-handed admission that he is, in fact, qualified to be President.  With the exception of Newt Gingrich, no other active Republican candidate comes close to that status.  Conservatives can complain all they want to about Romney's middle-of-the-road politics, but would any seriously suggest that he would be worse than or no better than the current president?  Swallow some of your concerns, fellow conservatives, and start working for what really matters -- the election of a qualified Republican candidate to defeat Barak Obama about a year from today.

If no different, why vote for him.

Romney does not appear to be any different to me than Obama, other than he is listed as a Republican. That being the case I will not vote for him... period. I will either not cast a vote or I will vote for a third party person. Quite frankly, I don't even care if the person is qualified.  Perhaps we will get lucky and get a "Dave" as in the movie where the impostor Dave replaces the president. 

Mitt Romney

I would NOT vote for Mitt Romney for all the same reasons you posted.  He was not my candidate in 2008 and definitely not now. My vote will go to Herman Cain with only one other candidate being my choice as a second runner.  I can also say this, if Allen West would have ran, he would have been my choice because he could win over Obama, hands down. He is a very intelligent man and knows more about foriegn and domestic policies than any one running.   I do feel Cain can win over Obama but he will need an inside person as his VP and he knows who.  Cain has the qualifications and we need a fresh all-American man for our Country. 

Amen RV

"Michael Gerson and Tom Ashbrook’s answer to this criticism was first to try to make the case that Romney did indeed have conservative advisors. The problem is, his list was made up of corporate lobbyists and Wall Street-types who actually proved my point -- if the next Republican President enters the White House surrounded by Fortune 500 CEOs, then conservatives will once again have won the election for the Republicans, but lost the battle to reform Washington." RV

Amen to that brother. And here's another dimension. Our Fortune 500 CEOs are MAJOR under-performers today in terms of growth and innovation, with large commitments to offshoring in China and elsewhere, and a cultural orientation consistent with multicultural decadance (Comcast pumping porn into the home 24/7). So there's no upside to kowtowing to them. They are barely even Americans today.

If you want to see what will happen in Romney vs. Obama look into Whitman vs. Brown in CA. Romney was involved in the background of that campaign and she lost in the last 2 weeks around the offshoring issue and her inability to mobilize the CA conservative movement. Brown let her rise in the polls with her shiny commercials about 'business experience' (eBay) and then suckered her first on hiring illegals (phony issue) and then once he had everybody's attention, he rolled out the 'outsourcing jobs' gun. She folded fast.

If Romney wants to get conservative votes he needs to bash a few of his banking cronies for their foreclosures, not keep telling us government is the only problem. It's not. The absence of American values in the C-suite of major corporations, their Kissinger-like embrace of third world slave states in the name of free trade, would earn a denunciation from Reagan.

God....how did the GOP come to this in 2011. One word. Bush.

Republican candidates

Richard, I agree with you on Romney but is anyone on the present list of candidates who should be supported by conservsatives?