I was a Mitt Romney supporter in 2008. I am a Reagan Republican who was not happy with the choice of candidates. I liked Fred Thompson, but he wasn't getting anywhere so when he dropped out early, I ended up going with Romney. By the time the Virginia primary came around he was pretty much out but I voted for him anyway since the other candidate was a RINO (no offense, Senator - you later redeemed yourself with a brilliant VP pick).
I'm not a Republican establishment type, but I do like qualified candidates with the right ideology. I felt Romney was qualified. I didn't think anyone in the primary except maybe a weak Thompson had the ideology. Since the ideology I was looking for wasn't available, it was a pick the best guy available for the job moment.
Romney is an intelligent man who has proven he can run businesses and even turn around failing ones. He would bring a strong economic background to the table and he would be a good communicator as much now as he would have back then.
But this time around, there is someone with both the ideology and the right qualifications. Prior to August 29, 2008, no one expected that there would be a game changer for anyone seeking the presidency. Obama's camp immediately reacted with fear and embarked on a smear campaign unprecented in American politics. Romney aides seem to be having the same knee jerk reaction fearing that as Palin's numbers strengthen (she's not there yet, but she is slowly proving to everyone that she is a top shelf contender) it is time to take her out.
That's not going to happen.
The Republicans who are not in the Palin camp need to keep focused on Obama's reckless agenda and get behind the effort to take over Congress. Forget Palin for now. That battle will be fought later. If fought fairly, win or lose, we will all take the shining city together. If it is not fought fairly, Romney surrogates and even the candidate himself stand to be damaged by political fallout that could doom his shot at the presidency. Even if Romney wins the nomination, he has to convince the Tea Party and the Palin camp to come along. That's going to be hard to do if he had his thugs beat her in a rhetorical dark alley.
You get more flies with honey. The only problem for Romney-ites is that you may catch the wrong fly. So they are stuck between the vinegar and the honey wondering how in the heck they are going to stop this continuing evolution and leveling up of candidate Palin. The only thing they can do is hope she doesn't run an effective campaign or, as many Republican insiders keep planting in the media, she chooses not to run and assist the party and its nominee in winning the presidency.
Palin is in it to win it. Otherwise, she'd just sit at home and write checks and let her surrogates do all the work. I'm not trying to knock Romney here, but it is the political reality that Palin has been working her tail off while he's been working quietly behind the scenes dealing with Republican establishment types and making his presence known only when the political science textbook says he should.
As a man with a political science degree, I understand - and under normal circumstances - Romney would be the pre-annointed nominee for 2012. But my political science degree has not been worth the paper it's been written on since John McCain introduced us to Sarah Palin and reminded people like me who thought the Reagan shining city on a hill thing was over that it wasn't over.
When I was a Romney supporter, I was sitting there on the deck talking to my buddy on the phone lamenting about how the country was doomed. The phrase "hell in a handbasket" was used frequently as was "better days are behind us." I wanted to buy a t-shirt that said "I went to the shining city on a hill and all I got was this stupid Poli-Sci degree." My country was about to be flushed down the toilet. The piece of paper with the the little ribbon on it told me that it was over. Ronnie is gone; go watch the tapes.
Then "she" happened.
Nothing against Mitt Romney. He's a good man. History rewarded George Herbert Walker Bush who was in a similar position establishment-wise and financially, but whose shot was ruined by some actor from California who said "well" and "gee" a lot that just happened to strike the right chord and get the right picture of America for everyone. He accused Reagan of "voodoo economics" and the attacks on Reagan were not pretty. The GOP survived that because Reagan was smart enough to unite the establishment wing with his grass roots wing and form a winning coaltion. Bush would become VP and eventually be elected president in 1988.
Do I think the same can happen for Romney? History repeats itself. Obama-Carter, Palin-Reagan, Hillary-Ted Kennedy and Bush-Romney all make sense the way I see it.
Do I think Palin should pick Romney to be her running mate? Or vice versa? No. That's not my call. I'm just saying history has been acting awfully funny lately, funny in a sense that I mean it seems to be doing a lot of the same things it did leading up to Reagan's nomination in 1980.
As for Romney, this is why we have primaries. Let's have a fair fight and not go into 2012 bitter and suspicious of our foxhole buddies when it comes time to take the shining city on the hill. Palin's people are quick to the sword, and we all know why given the way the media and "unnamed" aides have treated her. It would be wise for Republicans to heed Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment and not mess with the Barracuda until you have to.
And when that time comes, the battle will be fought in the arena of ideas, not in the rhetorical back alleys as those who think kneecapping her is the only way to win. If they beat her fair and square, their nominee will be worthy. If they beat her with sucker punches, we may not be happy no matter what happens in 2012.
And if she does win, I think we'll all be happy in the long run. It wasn't until 1984 that everyone really realized that Reagan was the man. In 1980, it was just about beating Jimmy Carter. Now it's about beating Barack Obama.