2012 could be remembered as the year when "procedure, rules, money and tradition" methodically killed Republicans' election bid.
Closing out January finds the Republicans down to two choices. Rick Santorum might yet prevail in a brokered convention but it's unlikely. What we have is Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Neither are promising. Let's start with the "frontrunner."
Mitt Romney's great wealth and how he made it is not the issue. Or, at least, it shouldn't be! America loves a success story. That's why our ancestors came here. It's just that "timing" is rotten for the former Massachusetts governor. And that brings us to our second problem: Conservatives don't trust Mitt Romney!"
Maybe it's because he is from the ultra liberal Bay State. Perhaps it's due to his history of changing positions as readily as the Boston Red Sox have changed closers. Those who know him compare him to two Massachusetts political leaders: Paul Tsongas and William Weld. We look at his campaign crew in Florida and we see a lot of the Charlie Crist people. Not good! To quote Florida Senator and conservative poster boy, Marco Rubio, Charlie Crist represents "the Arlen Specter wing of the party." Definitely not good!
BUT...Romney has a bucket of money. Newt Gingrich found this out in Iowa with the super pac shellacking that he took. He returned the favor in South Carolina and is now catching it again in Florida. He has been denounced by GOP establishment icons Bob Dole and John McCain. These stately gentlemen in the seventies and eighties are still deeply revered by "Dewey Rockefeller types" who continue to control the party machinery. Gingrich crossed the line with his "Bain Capital Revelation." Never mind that he gave the country a preview of the Democrats fall campaign!
Not that the former Speaker is perfect! He isn't! But he is riding point for the conservative wing of the Republican Party. And guess what? Conservatives are furious!
Sarah Palin described the Republican establishment as "Stalinistic." Actually, we can learn a lot from the history of other countries. We might review the USSR in the thirties. Remember Kirov? He wanted to do what was attempted fifty years later: put a human face on Communism. The Lenningrader was Stalin's chief rival for party leadership. We can all guess how that turned out!
The Republican party has broadened it's tent. This was the goal. But with the increased numbers came ideas. The establishment wanted more votes. Relinquishing some of the control was not part of the deal.
To compound matters, the GOP has become a party of the "south, prairies and mountains." The last time an eastern state voted Republican was in 2000. That was when New Hampshire and it's four electors went for George W. Bush. Iowa voted for George W. Bush in 2004. That broke a 20-year Republican drought in the Hawkeye state.
Yet... these two Democrat leaning states continue to greatly influence the Republican nominee selection. As one Rick Perry supporter put it, "we asked "why" Iowa and New Hampshire and all we heard was that's the way it's always been." It is called tradition.
Perry's camp does have a beef! What if the first two states had been Arkansas and Wyoming? Under existing rules Rick Perry would be closing in on the nomination. The present standard leads with states least likely to pick a conservative! Even worse is the establishments' willingness to call the election before the majority of conservatives have their say!
Former Tennessee Senator, Fred Thompson said Sunday that "even after Florida only 10% of the delegates will be wrapped up." Yet the old guard wants to call the election. Their concern stems from the pitched battle that will rage between now and mid-summer.
Gingrich should never have gotten out of Iowa. He has simply too much baggage. The endless string of debates helped him more than any candidate. Conservatives are now realizing that they have "fools gold" in Newt Gingrich. The former Speaker has less chance of election than Ron Paul!
Romney isn't much better! True, he has money and the establishment signature. But he just doesn't relate to American families making less than $200,000 per year. He "was always a weak front runner." said David Axelrod on Meet the Press Sunday. But Mitt has always had his loyal 25%. And, of course, money!
Some Republicans are becoming resigned to his nomination; even though it looks and smells like a loss. Still, if the establishment succeeds in pressuring Marco Rubio to run with Romney, it might make for an interesting election.
Barack Obama would have problems with a Romney-Rubio ticket in recession racked Florida. The question that he will be asked is, "why do you deserve another four years?" Blaming Congress won't cut a lot of ice with these frustrated voters!
The GOP's old guard assumes that the South would prefer Elmer Fudd to Obama as president. They conclude that the Southern psyche will rationalize that "as bad as Romney might appear, anything is better than Obama!" Even a Massachusetts "bean counter" who has been called "Obama lite!"
Romney would probably pick up a couple of small states in the east, namely New Hampshire and Maine. Which leaves the Southwest and Midwest. If the south and Florida are in the bag, what's left?
Real Clear Politics latest poll shows Independents preferring Obama to Romney "51-23." GOP insiders are confident that the margin will narrow by election time. Romney has ties in Michigan. Pennsylvania has a lot of unemployed workers who aren't excited about Obama's relection. Ohio could go either way. Wisconsin is not yet safely in the "blue column."
In short, the Republican establishment has counted the electoral votes. They see a win; if Rubio joins Romney. But what if he doesn't? While sharing Romney's position on defense, there are sharp ideological differences between the two.
The Florida Senator has voiced disinterest in Vice President from the outset. Yet, who could blame him for accepting the appointment! It would be his avenue to becoming president. He can't be spited for looking into the future! Romney needs an energetic force to breath life into his campaign. Not to mention a bonefide conservative who adds balance to the ticket. He found the right guy in Rubio!
But what if Rubio passes? It would be impossible for Romney to find a better running mate. In fact, Rubio is probably the only political leader who could turn a loss into a victory. He would bring Mitt the Sunshine state and it's 29 electoral votes. Without Rubio on the ticket, it will be difficult to counter Obama's message of "a 1% versus 99%."
This is the sad reality. Republican conservatives must swallow another establishment preference. Furthermore, it will take a conservative champion on the bottom of the ticket to give the establishment preference a chance of victory.
What if conservatives refuse to play along? Are there any available alternatives; outside of a brokered convention?
A third party is unlikely. Third parties haven't done well in past times! It's a guaranteed way of re-electing Barack Obama. Everyone is in agreement. Even Ron Paul!
What nobody has dared suggest is "to steal the convention." That's right! When Republicans are gathering in Tampa to nominate Mitt Romney, WHAT IF, conservatives were meeting in Orlando to nominate the "candidate who reflected the actual Republican voters in America?"
The convention would start with a national primary. Each state would be given equal treatment. The two top nominees selected would be voted on the fourth day of the convention. The platform would be a mix of all proposals.
They would range from "Herman Cain's 9-9-9" to Rick Perry's "loser pays" Tort Reform. The Texas idea of "potential free public higher education" loathed by the University establishment would draw Democrats like a magnet. Not to mention Santorum's tax concessions made to companies who return jobs to our shores. Ron Paul's Libertarian desire for less federal government could be targeted. So would Michelle Bachmann's termination of the E.P.A.. Even Newt Gingrich space station on the moon could be included! The defense position would mirror establishments'.
The people in Tampa would be given an alternative: Take our candidate or endure Obama another four years! It's called "chicken." And, amazingly, it might work, depending on the ticket. Just imagine! If Orlando proffered Marco Rubio-Condoleeza Rice and Tampa concluded with Mitt Romney-Nikki Haley, which ticket would be most welcomed in the "red states?"
Would the Establishment Republicans back down? Who knows! The bigger problem would be convincing enough conservative Republicans to abandon tradition and the "old white men" who gave us Barack Obama in 2008.
The fight between the conservative and establishment wings of the party has been brewing for years. It may have come to a boiling point. But with Gingrich on the top of the ticket, many establishment types will do what they did in '08: vote for Obama. After all, even George Soros recently said that "there wasn't a dimes worth of difference" between Romney and Obama. Many of these Wall Street Republicans are hedging their bets, contributing to both camps. They expect conservatives to back down as in '08 and '96. Obama wins. Or, he doesn't. They win either way!
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