In the wake of Fehrnstrom’s gaffe, the stock price of Etch-A-Sketch has soared. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have been bringing the classic children’s toy to campaign stops throughout Louisiana.
Once again, Mitt Romney has to address concerns that he is a flip-flopper who will revert to moderate positions once again in the general election.
The slip has overshadowed good news for Romney this week. After winning the Illinois primary, Romney has approximately half of the delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination. This week, he received an endorsement from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and a virtual endorsement from U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) who practically recommended that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich withdraw from the race.
The Republican establishment is rallying behind Romney more than ever. The insiders and power brokers in the party want the nomination contest to end, so the party can focus on beating President Obama in November. While the party bosses see the contested primaries as negative and preventing the electorate from uniting behind Romney, their favorite candidate, who they favor as the eventual nominee, the majority of Republican voters disagree. A prolonged contest allows voters in all states to participate in nominating a candidate, not just the early states like Iowa and New Hampshire.
Conservative voters continue to be distrustful of Romney and for good reason. These voters comprise the majority of the Republican electorate and they want a candidate who stands firm on principle and will not be swayed by the liberal media or the institutional forces of political correctness. What they see in Romney is the direct opposite of this ideal. On practically every issue, he has changed his position. He is campaigning as a conservative now, but called himself a “progressive” when running for office in Massachusetts. Today, he claims to love Ronald Reagan, but while campaigning in Massachusetts he vowed never to “return to Reagan-Bush.”
When he finished his term as Governor, he left Massachusetts with a big deficit after raising taxes and supporting liberal policies such as abortion, cap and trade and socialized medicine. It makes no sense for the Republicans to nominate a person who held similar positions to Barack Obama on a range of issues. In the fall election, all Obama needs to do is revisit Romney’s previous record and show his obscene policy changes. He will tell voters that Romney’s healthcare plan was his model. He will say that he agrees with the Massachusetts version of Romney, the one who believed in abortion, gay marriage and global warming.
It is really amazing that 16 months after the Tea Party ushered into power a Republican Congress, the candidate with the fewest ties to that group is being pushed toward the nomination by party leaders.
In the interview, Fehrnstrom was being candid about his boss. Governor Romney will say anything, do anything to be elected. If he is nominated, who knows what he will espouse in the general election. If he is elected, who knows what he will do as President. There is no confidence he will pursue a conservative agenda in the White House.
Nominating Romney is a sketchy strategy for conservatives who want one of their own on the campaign trail. Nominating Romney is a sketchy strategy for a party that needs to present a clear contrast to Barack Obama. Nominating Romney is a sketchy strategy for a party that wants to win in November.