Political Hay

Romney Hasn’t Earned the GOP Nomination

How can he be declared victor before a single primary vote has been cast? Though that's not the half of it.

By 10.18.11

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Notwithstanding the fact that not a single ballot has been cast in any of the Republican primaries, there seems to be a concerted effort by the liberal media to bestow the GOP nomination upon former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

According to the Detroit Free Press, "Mitt Romney's steady-as-she-goes campaign for the presidential nomination is beginning to look inevitable." The Washington Post tells us that Romney "is suddenly attracting new support from major donors and elected officials… as people across the GOP grow more accepting of the presidential contender as the party's standard-bearer." Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times declares, "It's beginning to look as if the former Massachusetts governor will win the nomination almost by default."

Isn't it peculiar that Romney is "beginning" to look like the inevitable, Republican nominee at the very moment that Herman Cain is resonating amongst conservatives and surging in the polls? Can the liberal media (and for that matter some GOP donors and elected officials) really be this spooked by Cain? Well, he sure does mess up their "Tea Partiers hate having a black man in the White House" narrative quite nicely. It's kind of difficult for the liberal media to credibly cast Republicans as racist if they nominate a black man. In fact, casting such aspersions against Tea Partiers would look really, really stupid. Without the Tea Party there would be no Cain surge.

As for Romney, let's just say he has long way to go before he earns the respect of the Tea Party. At best, Romney is tolerated, as was the case when he received a lukewarm reception at a Tea Party Express rally in New Hampshire last month. At worst, Romney is viewed with outright hostility and suspicion. Back in May, FreedomWorks, a Tea Party umbrella group, stated they were looking to thwart Romney's path to the GOP nomination. Their communications director Adam Brandon said at the time, "Romney has a record and we don't really like it that much." In June, a Tea Party group led by former Alaska GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller launched a "Stop Romney" campaign in New Hampshire. As Miller put it, "We will never get behind Mitt Romney. On issues like gun rights, gay rights, abortion, immigration, and health care, Romney has flipped more than John Kerry flopped." Earlier this month, another Tea Party organization (this one led by gospel singer Lloyd Marcus) launched its own campaign to "Stop Romney." Clearly, Romney has his work cut out for him and it's going to take more than one speech for Tea Party activists to embrace his candidacy.

But this is hardly Romney's only problem. Even if Romney were to triumph in Iowa and New Hampshire, no Republican worth his salt can win the nomination without winning the South. According to the most recent poll taken in South Carolina, Herman Cain leads the Palmetto state by a two to one margin over Romney (32% to 16%). (10) Romney can say Boeing and the National Labor Relations Board until his voice gets hoarse. It is difficult to imagine South Carolina, much less the rest of the South, opting for Romney over one of their own.

So why is there such a strong resistance amongst conservatives towards Romney? It could be summed up in three words: lack of authenticity. This is hardly a revelation. It was the core of his problem in his 2008 presidential run and little has changed since. Here is how I put it in December 2007:

Mitt Romney's presentation looks and sounds very much like his use of Power Point – very smooth and slick. But how many people are like this in real life?....This isn't to say that Romney isn't the genuine article. No one should expect Romney to start sporting dreadlocks and telling people he listens to Wyclef Jean. That would be equally inauthentic. But as long as Romney comes off as a used car salesman, game show host or, dare I say, television Evangelist, his candidacy is doomed because people will only see style without substance.

While Romney may have tremendous financial resources at his disposal, he has a deficit of authenticity. Herman Cain, on the other hand, has a surplus of authenticity. What you see is what you get. You know where you stand with Cain on the issues. Authenticity won't guarantee Cain the GOP nomination but it will take him a very long way. The same simply cannot be said for Romney. After all these years, conservatives don't know where Romney stands from one day to the next. So long as that is case, how can Romney expect conservatives to support him? As one conservative, Catholic blogger bluntly put it:

Go ahead, GOP. Nominate this health-care regulating, pro-abortion, flip-flopping liberal, phony, RINO stiff. But believe me when I say that I will NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, EVER vote for him.

The liberal media might want to call off the coronation. After all, we don't elect kings. Republican voters might like to have their say as to who becomes their nominee against President Obama. At this point, Mitt Romney simply hasn't earned the GOP nomination.

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About the Author
Aaron Goldstein writes from Boston, Massachusetts.