On February 5th, 2008, Super Tuesday helped clearly define the Republican presidential field. After successful victories in California and much of the northeast portion of the United States, Arizona Senator John McCain will most likely be the presidential nominee for the GOP. While it may seem that Senator McCain is the proverbial driver’s seat, much will be written about the impact of Governor Romney and what the future holds for GOP.
Governor Romney’s campaign by most accounts was a well built machine exemplifying the talents of a man successful in business, government and in saving the Salt Lake City Olympic Games. His critics, both within the GOP and in the mainstream were quick to point out his “flip flops,” on key issues like abortion, gay rights, guns and stem cell research. This was in addition to the countless questions about his Mormon faith, a religious scrutiny that has escaped most, if not all, the candidates in either party. No candidate, save Mayor Giuliani, needed to answer questions about his intimate relationships or give speeches to clear up their personal philosophies.
A man of great conviction and a tireless campaigner, he did not duck any debate or opportunity to speak to the people. A virtual unknown too many outside the northeast and the political world, his campaign started slow with most of the attention focusing on Rudy Giuliani as the most popular nationwide candidate in the GOP. Romney would continue to focus on the states to build his case for the presidency.
Despite these efforts, early defeats in Iowa and New Hampshire began to place a strain on a campaign that had been heavily funded with the former Governors own fortune. Then he attained his first major victory in Michigan. Speaking in more relaxed, yet excited tones with hair a bit undone, Romney bristled with passion about the broken nature of Washington policy makers and the broken promises from those on Capitol Hill. The governor found his proverbial voice addressing the many issues facing a rapidly crumbling economy.
The victory did not boost him enough to take South Carolina or Florida but the message was clear. There was one true conservative in the race and Governor Romney was that man.
Leading into the Super Tuesday contests conservative talk radio, avoiding a full endorsement to maintain objectivity, drew a fine line between him and McCain. While not drawing direct comparisons to GOP ideologue Ronald Reagan, he had won the admiration of those in the conservative media while drawing the ire of Senator McCain and next closest rival former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
Weathering brutal attacks from John McCain labeling him as someone more interested in profits instead of patriotism, the former governor stood out for his integrity. Answering bumper sticker slogans with the grace and vigor of a well reasoned scholar he brushed off the attacks leading to victories on Super Tuesday. The irony is that in the end those victories were not enough.
With the Christian Conservative vote going to the former Arkansas Governor and social conservatives gravitating towards him as well, Mr. Romney could not drum up enough support to fight on.
Two days later, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, Romney surrounded by a throng of supporters and thunderous cheers announced his withdrawal from the campaign for president. Claiming that he would not stall a national campaign in a time of war to suit his own ego, he would do what was necessary to prevent a Clinton or Obama presidency. Only a man of high character, one which was questioned throughout, would give up his own goals for that of the nation.
Now the attention turns to 2012 and the comparisons to Ronald Reagan circa 1976 have already begun. The goodwill the governor has engendered will be remembered but as a politician he must make his claims stick. If he is going to fight for conservatism he must learn to unite a party heavily divided amongst its traditional pillars: social, economic and national security conservatives. He must avoid the flip flops that came back to hurt him early on in the campaign and in debates. Multiple positions don’t play to a conservative base hungry for a forceful leader that is true to his or her convictions. Most importantly, he must believe in conservatism, it isn’t enough to claim the mantle of someone but it must come through absolutely. Governor Romney left a mark on everyone who voted for him, but like Reagan in 1976, it now becomes about building the Romney Coalition and bringing to light the change we so desperately seek in Washington.
(c) Copyright–Alejandro Rodriguez III All Rights Reserved Worlwide