The Spectacle Blog

On a Wing and a Prayer

By on 12.11.06 | 11:37AM

Noam Schieber's New Republic story on the conversions of Sam Brownback--from evangelical Protestant to Catholic and from moderate Republican to conservative--was actually much more interesting and sympathetic than I expected. But I'm not yet convinced by this bit: "If everything breaks right, and social conservatives are particularly aggrieved over their party's standard bearer, Brownback could end up on the national ticket. "

It's not inconceivable, especially if Mitt Romney's overtures to evangelicals and other social conservatives fall flat. Social conservatives don't trust John McCain and disagree with Rudy Giuliani. Brownback would be a purer alternative. Maybe a Giuliani-Brownback or McCain-Brownback ticket would keep the values voters from staying home.

Yet the question conservative boosters of both Romney and Brownback need to ask themselves is whether the grassroots support is there. The Beltway right has rooted for conservative heroes in the Republican primaries before--think Jack Kemp in 1988, Phil Gramm in 1996, and, to a much lesser extent, Steve Forbes in 2000. At the ballot box, these candidates went nowhere.

And Brownback faces a second obstacle. Where does he stand in the "invisible primary" decided by fundraisers and Rolodex men, Pioneers and Rangers? Mitt Romney has a foothold there. Does Brownback?

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