Romney and Rallying the Right - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Romney and Rallying the Right
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The biggest problem with Mitt Romney as someone who can rally conservatives to John McCain is that there are large, even indispensable, segments of the right that never warmed to him. Evangelicals and Southerners, important and often overlapping categories, are the two most obvious examples. Romney started to see some improvements after Fred Thompson dropped out and perhaps he would have improved further if Mike Huckabee had left the race at the same time, though the exit polls strongly suggest otherwise. But whether it was the Mormon problem or the Massachusetts problem (which led to all the flip-flops), Romney never really emerged as the consensus conservative candidate.

Romney is typical of a lot of VP choices you see bandied about in blogs and articles by conservative writers. These potential running mates tend to be popular with conservative elites, but less popular or even completely unknown at the grassroots level. Nor is this the first time this has happened. In 1996, Phil Gramm was the favorite of Beltway conservatives. When the votes were counted, however, Pat Buchanan ate Gramm’s lunch, in no small part because he was a conservative celebrity well known to the grassroots.

I don’t really know who to recommend based on this observation, since McCain isn’t likely to pick Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. There’s also no reason the conservative press couldn’t help the rank and file get excited about Bobby Jindal, Chris Cox, or whoever. But if there is a Ronald Reagan figure who is as well known and beloved at the grassroots level as among establishment conservatives, I’m not coming up with his name off the top of my head.

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