Here’s a test to apply to the names of all potential Republican vice presidential candidates: if the Washington Republican establishment, like the GOP congressional leadership, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, defense industry lobbyists and Capitol Hill political consultants, all applaud the name, Governor Romney has picked the wrong candidate and is in danger of losing the election.
It is not a done deal yet, but if you look past the front page articles on the Olympics and the latest crime news, you will find articles reporting that Governor Mitt Romney is on the verge of announcing the name of the vice presidential candidate he wants to join him on the Republican ticket.
And the names that are floating around sound like Governor Romney is all set to unite the 25% of GOP voters who constitute the Bush-Romney wing of the Republican Party.
That leaves behind the 75% of grassroots conservative Republican voters who backed Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann in the primaries.
Many of these activists still haven’t forgotten -- or forgiven -- the carpet bombing campaign that Romney ran to destroy first one conservative challenger and then another during the primary election season. And they have seen nothing from the Romney campaign that indicates the Governor has an inclination to move beyond the smears to embrace any of the conservative ideas their candidates ran on.
While the media and establishment Republican insiders float names like Condoleeza Rice, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ohio’s establishment GOP Senator Rob Portman -- conservatives are seething.
Because it looks like conservatives are being shut out, not just of the process of selecting a running mate, but even of speaking at the convention.
Moderate GOP Senator John McCain, Bush family acolyte Condoleeza Rice, and big government conservative Fox News personality Mike Huckabee are all speaking -- but none of the high profile speaking roles announced so far are going to small government, constitutional conservatives.
Governor Romney and his establishment Republican advisors and consultants seem to think that the boogie man of four more years of Obamanomics is enough to energize conservatives – it is not.
This is a “base election” where the result will be decided by which Party’s base is most energized. That’s why Obama has embarked on his class warfare campaign, endorsed same-sex marriage, issued an Executive Order to implement the Dream Act (to pander to Hispanics) and why he continues to sit on the Keystone Pipeline to curry favor with environmentalists.
Governor Romney, on the other hand, has done nothing to appeal to conservatives, even when he was handed 20 million conservative supporters through Mike Huckabee’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day he ignored them, by saying, “That’s not something that’s part of my campaign.”
Governor Romney and his campaign team just don’t seem to grasp that all the energy in the Republican Party lies with small government constitutional conservatives and Tea Partiers, and to win they need to energize conservatives, not just get their votes on Election Day.
To energize conservatives, Mitt must choose a vice presidential nominee who conservatives see as a conservative, not one the establishment thinks is safe, but one who conservatives will accept as one of their own – a small government constitutional conservative.
In 2006, some 4 million conservative voters stayed home because they were turned-off by the outrages of the Bush-era Republican establishment leaders – many of whom are now Velcroed on to Governor Romney – and Republicans were wiped out at the polls.
In 2010, the Tea Party and small government constitutional conservatives became the face of the GOP and Republicans won an historic – perhaps even realigning – election.
So-called moderate Republicans are, at best, 25% of the Republican vote, and when moderate establishment Republicans were the face of the GOP, Republicans routinely lost presidential elections and were a powerless minority on Capitol Hill.
Now the three-legged coalition of Ronald Reagan has been broadened by the addition of the constitutional conservatives of the Tea Party. Working together, the four legs of this new conservative coalition have created a powerful political movement whose energy won what should be a 21st century American political realignment – the 2010 elections.
Conservatives look to Governor Romney’s choice of running mate as an indication that he shares their commitment to small government constitutional principles and will campaign and govern as a conservative. Establishment figures like Tim Pawlenty, Condoleeza Rice, Ohio Senator Rob Portman or New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are no conservatives and are recipes for a demoralized conservative base!