GOP Establisment choice, Mitt Romney is easy enough to fathom. While professing to be a Washington outsider, he definitely knows his way around K street!
Washington D.C.'s K Street is where the power brokers reside. These political insiders are investing heavily in a Romney-Obama match in November. In fact, in a recently published Newsmax article, it was reported that nearly 390 registered lobbyists and lobbying politcal action committes had contributed $1.5 million to Restore our Future. This super PAC has backed Romney and been the source of millions of negative political ads targeted at other Republican candidates.
Many Romney donors represent the healthcare and financial services sectors. These included familiar names such as Merck, Medronic, J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America. One of the power players is Charles Black, Jr. who lobbies for A.T.&T. and Wal-Mart. Another is Wayne Berman, who represents Pfizer Inc. and Visa Inc. Then there is Ed Rogers, who lobbies for defense contractor Raytheon Co and drugmaker, GlaxoSmithKline PLC.
When Rick Santorum says that his "donors come from grassroots America while Romney's largely come from Washington lobbies," he's telling the truth! Santorum has received less than $20,000 from these sources. Newt Gingrich received slightly more(about $93,000). Ron Paul received a whopping $750!
Reality is, many of these same big players are likewise contributing to the Obama campaign. They are effectively hedging their bets! You can't say the same with Santorum's $20 givers!
Which brings us back to the original question: "Can the establishment successfully cram Romney down the throats of Republican conservatives?" Their primary weapon has been the same one used in 1980.
We recall the assumption that Ronald Reagan was too conservative to win the general election. His opponent, George Herbert Walker Bush was the moderate with a grand resume. Bush backers touted his electability. He had everything in his favor, the state primary sequence, the money and the establishment's blessing. But Reagan had one thing that Bush lacked: passion. He connected with America. We know the rest of the story.
We should not forget the lesson of 1980. Not that Reagan won the nomination as much as how decisively he defeated Jimmy Carter. For those who remember, they recall that Carter made a huge judgment error. He allowed the environmental movement to effectively "break line," placing their agenda ahead of the unions. The country was regulated to the hilt. Don't look now, but Obama is making those same mistakes!
The opportunity was perfect for a real conservative to win and Reagan took advantage of it. Would Bush have capitalized in the same manner? Probably not! A devout "Keynesian, Bush called Reagan's supply side theories "voodoo economics." True, he likely would beaten Carter. But the badly needed course change wouldn't have happened!
Like Bush the elder, Romney is a "Keynesian." Unlike Bush, he has two major hurdles. One is healthcare. His plan is simply too close to Obama's for comfort! He also has major problems with Hispanics.
Rick Santorum can pick up on this, even more so than Newt Gingrich. "Romneycare" allows Santorum to present the contrast between himself and the President. Romney loses this card. Plus, Latinos will unquestionably gravitate to the "son of immigrants, from a blue collar family." It certainly doesn't hurt that he's a Roman Catholic!
Assuming that Santorum is insightful enough to choose a Hispanic running mate, he could eclipse the 44% Latino vote tally that George W. Bush won in 2004. Romney will be fortunate to receive 30%(he's currently polling at 14%) of the Hispanic vote. That could tip the scales in Florida and key southwestern states in favor of the Democrats.
"Where" his money came from will enter the picture. Class warfare will be Obama's strategy. Romney will be positioned as "Fortune 500 Mitt," the candidate of Wall Street, the big banks and K street lobbies. Voters will be reminded of his historic friendliness to "offshore outsourcing." This, in itself is hypocritical. But "blue collar" Democrats will buy it!
Somehow, the brightest minds in the Republican party are slow to reach for their history books! The position taken is "the polls indicate that Romney would do better in the general election than the other candidates." A closer look shows that these polls include New York, Maryland, California and Connecticut? The fact that Romney might lose 53-47 as compared to Santorum losing 59-41 in New York won't matter in the final electoral count.
The real test is whether Romney can energize the base. The establishment thinks that he can. But indications suggest "tepid acceptance at best." The hope is Evangelicals will vote against Obama while holding their noses! Yet the party "bluebloods" may be overestimating Mitt Romney's electability. Or, underestimating that of his opponents.
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