The Left Needs Romney to Lose

A lot of liberal news sources and bloggers (Andy Sullivan, that's you) have been publishing a seemingly endless torrent of anti-Romney articles and posts in the last several months. Interestingly, many of them are trying to sell the idea that Romney isn't all that conservative and is a flip-flopper on social issues. They're trying so hard to convince conservatives that he's not their man, yet many of them aren't rooting for a Republican White House in 2008. What's the motivation?

It occurred to me why they're fighting so hard against Romney: Democrats, regardless of who they nominate, can't go head-to-head with Mitt and win. Here's the angles that I see on this one.

#1 – McCain or Guiliani would be easier opponents. McCain is very moderate, and Guiliani is pretty liberal by Republican standards. Either of these candidates could drive away conservatives to third parties, a crucial tactic in close states. If Hillary Clinton cinches the Democratic nomination with her new-found moderate packaging, the candidates would be so much alike that voters in the middle could swing either way. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has very clearly defined himself as a fiscal conservative and has been growing into a social conservative these last few years. He's well-liked within his own party whereas McCain is a loose cannon and Guiliani is hardly accepted within the party.

#2 – Romney as president would strengthen the Republican Party. Given Romney's track record on fiscal issues, he'd be likely to reign in the budget and get us back to surpluses  by the end of his first term. This would be a major win with most Americans, especially the fiscal conservatives that have been given back seat status during Bush's tenure. With a win like that, he could re-establish the Republicans as the small government party from 1994, and most Americans (to the chagrin of the big government types) are fans of fewer feds.

#3 – Romney's squeaky clean personal life could clear the air. Republicans are in a funk after so many of their party had been caught red-handed in scandal after scandal. Romney's biggest skeleton is saying the words "hell" and "damn" when someone cheesed him off during the Olympics. He's also the only major Republican contender who's not been divorced. (As so many have noted, funny that it would be a Mormon given the legacy of polygamy.)

Americans already voted to "throw the rascals out" this year, and Mitt could very well sell himself as a morally upright and fiscally capable outsider. Hillary can't do that, Obama probably isn't going to run, and the rest of the names being floated are either also-rans or unknowns. Why else would there be desperate stabs from the left that Romney isn't a "true conservative"? Why else would so many liberal bloggers spend all of their time spreading FUD about Mormonism? It's desperation because they know Hillary can't take him and yet she's determined to get that nomination.

With such a vested interest in trying to knock Romney out of the running, you can bet the attackers are going to try and find anything they can to make him look bad. The attacks on Mormons will escalate as well (as if Andy Sullivan's pictures of Mormons wearing garments wasn't tasteless enough), making John F. Kennedy's anti-Catholic hecklers look relatively tame. It's going to get very, very ugly, and there's a good possibility that the underhanded and low-brow tactics will backfire.

Watch your back, Hillary. That negative campaigning on your behalf will bring you down.

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10 Responses to The Left Needs Romney to Lose

  1. Jeremy says:

    What is it about Romney that has convinced you that he is a fiscal conservative? I have not studied the guy a whole lot so I’m asking you in good faith what hard data you have to support the contention made several times throughout this piece that he is a guy we fiscal conservatives can trust.

    I’d rather support someone with a proven record of taking personal political risks in an effort to bring fiscal conservatism to our government than someone like Romney who has shown his willingness in the past to tell constituents whatever he thinks they want to hear in order to get himself elected.

  2. Jesse says:

    Well, he did turn a big deficit into a surplus and record rainy day fund in short order. He’s also been proposing both tax and budget cuts, demanding that the budget stay balanced and not depend on loans from Massachusetts’ rainy day fund. Mitt did a good job on reversing fortunes for the Olympics and has a proven business track record. It seems that the main barrier for him getting more conservative financial policies in place has been a legislature all too willing to override his veto.

  3. Krispy says:

    Funny. I was just talking with a friend last night about Mitt. I think I could be tempted to not vote 3rd party…

  4. Bill Fox says:

    Please tell me who other than Newt is more conservative than Mitt. If Newt is an option, I’d vote for him in a heartbeat. If Newt doesn’t run I’d much rather have Mitt than Rudy with McCain bringing up the rear. I’m just glad Frist isn’t running as he would do worse than my sister and I don’t have a sister

  5. Dan says:

    Jesse,

    It would help if you could share which “liberal” bloggers and news sources want to see Romney lose. (and no, Sullivan is conservative, as much as you hate him).

    From what I’ve seen, most of the talk about Romney is between conservatives. News sources focus not on his religion, but on his politics (which I think you want them to do, right?).

    Oh and I just learned recently that Mit Romney voted for Paul Tsongas back in 1992. I’m starting to really like the old Romney. Tsongas is who I wanted to win in 1992. 🙂

  6. Jesse says:

    All it takes is a quick search for “Romney” on DailyKos to see how they’re hammering his changes on social issues while entirely ignoring the financial turnaround he’s orchestrated in his state. The underlying current? They want to sell him as a sleazy opportunist that’ll probably change again. The Huffington Post has gone so far as to ask if he’s a coward or a racist.

    Unsurprisingly, the gay media has been skewering him for his stand against gay marriage, and liberal sources like the Boston Globe and Salt Lake Tribune have been trying to undercut him. It seems kind of a waste to ask for sources when so many can be found so readily (I found mine within 2 minutes) unless the question was rhetorical.

    As for Paul Tsongas, I’d probably have considered voting for someone who’s a fiscal conservative and social liberal. Gay marriage will never pass at a national level, and it has never passed at a state level when the voters have a say. Abortion laws are so well entrenched that I sadly think we won’t see any changes one way or the other on that front except for small advances here and there. (It’s kind of like the front lines of WWI in that sense.) People who are serious about stem cells have already found non-controversial sources that aren’t embryonic. In the meantime, I think that cutting back the federal budget and letting states take the reigns will take care of many of our problems. I see the fiscal issues as more important than the social ones right now. Maybe Romney did too.

  7. Dan says:

    Jesse,

    You’re right, they do hammer at him and his social policies in Massachusetts. The question is, are they, on Daily Kos, equal in their attacks on McCain, and Giuliani as they are on Romney? For your post to have validity, Daily Kos and other liberal bloggers would have to be fairly silent in their critiques of McCain and Giuliani. After all, according to your logic, they would want either Giuliani or McCain to win, and thus their Democratic candidate would have a better chance of winning. But if you go around the liberal blogs (which I do), they bash McCain far worse than they do Romney, by far. They don’t bother with Giuliani, because they know that while Giuliani is a pretty popular guy for the way he handled himself on 9/11, that’s all he’s got. They know that Giuliani will have a very rough time explaining his very moderate stances on abortion and gay marriage to conservatives in South Carolina. Not only that, but come full national exposure, his time before 9/11 will come to full light. Giuliani will have a rough time going through that. So they don’t bother.

    I’m sorry, Jesse, but I just don’t see this conspiracy among liberal bloggers to single out Romney, so that Romney loses and McCain can become the Republican nominee.

  8. Jesse says:

    It’s not so much a conspiracy as it is a matter of groupthink. He got seen as a rising star in the primaries and out of the frontrunners and he has the most conservative public image. Combine that with being from a not-so-mainstream religion, and he might as well paint a big red target on himself.

    With a conservative message, he’s going to do a pretty good job at the whole “energize the base” thing while drawing in swing voters with his list of public service accomplishments. That makes him a pretty strong candidate, flip-flopping accusations aside.

    We all pretty much know that Hillary is planning on taking the nomination one way or another, even if it means causing a lot of internal party strife in the process. Those kinds of bloody battles are the ones that keep the base at home on election day or switching to another party. I think it’s going to end up happening that way, and I think a lot of Democrats know it too. That’s what makes Mitt dangerous for them: he won’t cause as much internal party strife as McCain or Guiliani will. With Republicans keeping a somewhat unified base and Democrats splitting theirs up, it would make for a very tough campaign.

    Again, no conspiracy, but I think the groupthink on this one is pretty strong.

  9. Dan says:

    I just don’t see liberal bloggers focusing anymore on Romney than they do on any other Republican candidate. They are certainly not singling him out because of religion, like right-wing bloggers have done.

  10. Cameron says:

    That’s what makes Mitt dangerous for them: he won’t cause as much internal party strife as McCain or Guiliani will

    From what I have read to this point, Romney will cause strife within the Republican party mainly because of his controversial social issues stand.

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