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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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December 28, 2011 - 6:42 am

Powerline’s John Hinderaker endorses Mitt Romney for president. Right Wing News’ John Hawkins cites seven reasons that Mitt Romney would make a poor GOP nominee. Such is the state of play in the Republican primary.

Hinderaker’s endorsement includes this curious paragraph:

The “anybody but Romney” mentality that grips many Republicans is, in my view, illogical. It led them to embrace Rick Perry, who turned out to be unable to articulate a conservative thought; Newt Gingrich, whose record is far more checkered than Romney’s; Ron Paul, whose foreign policy views–indistinguishable from those of the far left–and forays into racial intolerance make him unfit to be president; and Michele Bachmann, whom I like very much, but who is more qualified to be a rabble-rouser than a chief executive.

No one is supporting any of the other candidates on their own merits? All of the other candidates depend for their support on not being Mitt Romney? If that’s so, what does that say about the candidacy of Mitt Romney, at this late stage?

Speaking for myself, I ended up endorsing Romney in 2008 but I’ve been interested in the candidacies of others in the current race not because they’re “anybody but Romney,” but because they have strong conservative records as governor of their state or in other offices. Romney also chose to run a more moderate campaign this time around than last, opening himself up to questions yet again of just what does he really believe and how would he really govern? He ran to Ted Kennedy’s left in 1994, to John McCain’s right in 2008, and is running to most of the GOP field’s left now. As for the other candidates, they have stood for conservative principle, won important battles and helped moved their states or the country to the right. Noticing that is “illogical?”

Here’s what I look for in a candidate for the presidency, in no particular order; executive experience in the private or public sector, plus a proven ability to advance the conservative cause, plus a strong and sane foreign policy, plus strong personal character. The presidency is no place for flakes or rookies. Mitt Romney has personal integrity and executive experience and is fine on foreign policy, but has no record of advancing the conservative cause. He presents conservative plans and proposals now, which is great, but was at best a moderate to slightly left of center governor. Massachusetts is no less blue now than it was before Romney’s tenure.

Unless the nominee is Ron Paul, whoever they are will have my support if they win the GOP nomination. I suspect most Republican voters feel the same way, more or less. But we’re not at that point yet. We have had three candidates in the race who best fit my criteria, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman. A fourth, Newt Gingrich, has a solid record while in office but a less conservative record afterward, and carries significant personal baggage that would certainly cause problems for him as nominee. Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum have both been strong conservatives in Congress but lack serious executive experience.

Gov. Huntsman was a strong conservative governor but has run a terrible campaign, insulting Republican voters as “anti-science” and all but obliterating his own record. Gov. Pawlenty helped move a blue state red and was a tax cutter and a bad bill veto king. Gov. Rick Perry’s tenure in Texas has seen the state leave the Democratic Party of its past behind while Texas has become the nation’s economic engine. He fought Obama’s policies while the president was still popular and many Republicans were tempted to move left. Perry stood his ground. As president, I don’t doubt that Perry would move the conservative cause forward and do everything he can to roll back the damage Obama has done without fear or apology. Both he and Pawlenty have been serious and committed conservative leaders in ways that Romney simply has not been.

None of that has anything to do with these candidates not being Mitt Romney, and supporting them or most of the others (Ron Paul excepted, though his support isn’t due to his not being Romney either) is far from “illogical.” Not a single vote has been cast, and polls still show that about half of the GOP’s voters haven’t made their minds up yet. If after watching him for five years they’re not sure that Mitt Romney is the candidate who can defeat Obama and undo the damage this president has done, then maybe it’s because Romney just isn’t that candidate.

 

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.
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