Romney Edges Closer to Run; I Say, "Go Ahead"

With the conservative base of the Republican Party still largely skeptical about John McCain and likely reluctant to back a social moderate like Rudy Giuliani, there is still room for someone to run to the right of the pack and pick up the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. A couple of years ago, it looked like Rick Santorum might be the man, but that ended quickly. For the better part of the last year it appeared that George Allen would be the frontrunner for that slot, but macaca and his subsequent defeat at the hands of Jim Webb nixed that. Now, a cadre of relatively unknown and/or unpopular Republicans, including Newt Gingrich, Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee and Tom Tancredo, are vying to occupy the right and thus take the nomination. So too is outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. And according to Scott Helman of The Boston Globe, Romney has already picked out his campaign headquarters.

Governor Mitt Romney, erasing any doubt that he intends to make a White House bid in 2008, is laying plans to run his presidential campaign from a three-story waterfront building at the edge of Boston's North End, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the proposed deal.

[...]

Romney's campaign team has not finalized a deal for the space yet, the sources said, but an agreement is expected soon. Romney has said he intends to make an official announcement after the first of the year about whether he will run for president in 2008.

Aside from the fact that polling indicates that Romney is the third most unpopular governor in the countryand additionally that it would be difficult for any member of the Mormon faith, Mitt Romney included, to win a presidential election, there are a growing number of reasons to believe that Romney would be a weak candidate in the general election should the Republicans back him during the primaries. As I have noted before, federal prosecutors are investigating whether the Romney administration actually performed the safety inspections it said it did on the Big Dig tunner, the partial collapse of which killed a woman this past summer. What's more, Romney's record on healthcare, upon which he is supposed to run, is much less impressive than he and others might have you think, with throwing mental patients on the streets being one of the more tangible examples of the failure that is the Romney administration.

But that's not all. Aside from winning a gubernatorial election in Massachusetts, a state that at the time tended to elect Republican governors, during a Republican-leaning year, Romney has proved a rather feckless campaigner and political strategist. On November 7, Romney's appointed heir Kerry Healey lost the Massachusetts Governor election by more than 20 points, and across the country, Republican efforts to protect their majority of governorships -- an effort that was headed by Romney as chairman of the Republican Governor's Association -- ranked somewhere between a complete and an utter failure, with Republicans unsuccessfully trying to pick up a single Democratic-held governor's mansion and losing a net six positions overall. The Hill's Aaron Blake has details about the unhappiness among Republican operatives about the poor record of the RGA under Romney's watch.

But despite the apparently overwhelming odds against them picking up seats in such places as Kansas and Oklahoma or holding outgoing Gov. Mike Huckabee's (R) seat in Arkansas, Republicans in those states are expressing discontent.

"If there was a message sent to the national party, (it was that) for a few weeks on TV in those states, I'm not going to promise victory for the Republicans, but the outcomes would have been drastically different," said one Kansas GOP operative who is "legitimately annoyed" with the national party.

"They seemed to be focused on states they maybe shouldn't have been focused on," the operative said, referring specifically to New Mexico and Michigan, where the governors association supported Dick DeVos, who lost to Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) by 14 points despite spending $18 million of his own money.

The operative said a lot of Republicans in the area are disappointed with the governors association.

The nomination of Mitt Romney to be the standard bearer of the Republican Party in 2008 would be an unmitigated failure for the party. Boy, would I love to see him try and go up against almost any Democrat considering a run at the White House (with the possible exception of Mike Gravel -- but then again, who knows, even the very unknown Gravel might be able to beat him...).

Tags: 2008, Mitt Romney, Primaries, Republicans (all tags)

Comments

24 Comments

Huckabee

Now, a cadre of relatively unknown and/or unpopular Republicans, including Newt Gingrich, Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee and Tom Tancredo, are vying to occupy the right and thus take the nomination.

In that field, Huckabee is the threat.  He's pretty talented politically but mostly unknown at the national level, which should give Democrats a chance to define him if they get started right away.  He's left the door open with that wedding registry snafu.

by fwiffo 2006-11-29 05:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Huckabee

I think if Huckabee emerges he could be one of the strongest candidates the GOP could have as the nominee. Romney, Rudy, McCain all have problems with the base.

by robliberal 2006-11-29 08:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Romney Edges Closer to Run;

I agree.  Romney would struggle to get above the 40% mark nationally against almost anyone (except maybe Kerry) and would lose his home state by 30 points.  A Romney nomination is most likely a best case scenario for the Democrats.  Even Santorum would be a more formidible opponent because he would be difficult to defeat in any red states, although Santorum would probably lose his home state as well by about, oh, 19 points...

by NJIndependent 2006-11-29 05:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Romney Edges Closer to Run;

Of course he would lose Massachusetts. That's part of what he is banking on.

by Joe Gabriel 2006-11-29 10:38AM | 0 recs
California

One governorship remained in GOP hands - California.

And only because Angelides was a piss-poor Democratic candidate, and because Ah-nold ran more to the left than is acceptable for ReThugs, but acceptable to Democrats wanting other alternatives besides Angelides.

by Political Junkie 2006-11-29 05:53AM | 0 recs
My money...

is still on McCain. Falwell/Dobson/Perkins etc. know he's their best shot at keeping the WH, and that he'll need them to win both in '08 and a re-elect in '12. So they'll come behind him, just as Bush, Rove & Co. have already done.

The only real question is who will we nominate to defeat him?

by LiberalFromPA 2006-11-29 05:58AM | 0 recs
Re: "Go Ahead"

I've said all along that the woman getting killed by the collapsing tunnel kills Romney's fairly low chance of winning ... after a GOP administration that gave us such deadly incompetence, a few ads based around that pretty much finishes Romney, imo. If he were stronger otherwise, it wouldn't be enough to kill him, but as it is ... goodnight.

Interesting, though, that the two states the GOP operatives are complaining about are somewhat Presidential swing states (one with a potential Democratic candidate), while Romney ignored safe red states ... was there any personal agenda there, hmmmm?

by BriVT 2006-11-29 06:22AM | 0 recs
I talked someone out of supporting

Romney in all of 20 seconds.

Just mentioned his flip flop on abortion and he was a Mormon.  

It took 30 seconds to talk them out of Rudy G.

My money is on Huckabee.

by demiowa 2006-11-29 06:29AM | 0 recs
Re:McCain bet

My money's on him, too, and I predict Jeb Bush as VP nominee.  I think they want to give him a chance to redeem the family name, unless they have enough money and control that they don't even care about their "legacy" anymore.

by dksbook 2006-11-29 06:36AM | 0 recs
Don't be too confident.

Romney will be a very formidable candidate if nominated. He is making it very clear to evangelical voters that he believes in Jesus Christ and that might be all that he needs to assure them with. He has plenty of money, he is very conservative, and his investment group just purchased clear channel, which could help his campaign. His father was the former gov. of Michigan which could help him in the general election. Say what you will about him but he has appeal and a chance to win. What did you think in 1998-1999 when the bumbling gov. of Texas was thinking about running for the Presidency?

by Houston Dem 2006-11-29 06:38AM | 0 recs
The Mormon grass-roots are dangerous

One lesson I learned from a "Jack-mormon" Republican campaign consultant is, "don't fuck with the church."

Of my seven campaign losses (of 30), one that sticks in my ribs with particular poignancy was a special election race where a Mormon candidate roared out of what we thought was fourth place in a multi-candidate field to win.  Only at the end of the campaign did the incredible precinct-walking energy of his Mormon troops become visible.

One characteristic of Mormon political action is that they never introduce themselves as Mormons but rather, as "Dr. So-in-so, an opthamologist at your medical center," and "Mrs. So-in-so, who is the head of the home-and school club" and so forth.

These hard-working, prosperous, and clean-living people are fucking dangerous. Their numbers, always small, produce big dollars in fundraising and enormous energy and productivity in volunteerism.

The anti-choice Mormons are a big part of the shock troops the GOP count on for their 72 hour program and year-round activism.

That said, it is true that most other people, especially in the West, hate them. They are feared for their strange heresies--they believe the Book of Mormon has equal authority to the Bible and that Jesus was not the only prophet--their sanctimoniousness and proslytizing and their history of polygamy.The great 49-er quarterback Steve Young is only one of literally thousands of Youngs, all descended from the horny prophet Brigham.

Nevertheless Mitt's daddy, George Romney entered the 1968 Republican primaries a front-runner despite his heritage and was derailed by a gaffe, not religious prejudice. I do believe, however, that bias against Mormons made his lead more fragile than it otherwise would have been.

That said, I agree that Romney would be a comparatively weak candidate. For one thing, the younger Romney, like the younger Bush, ain't half the man his father was. George Romney was a man of parts, having led General Motors before entering politics.

Still, I promise you this: Get into a campaign, esp. at the local level, against a Mormon candidate and you're in for the fight of your life. If you value your won-loss record, "don't fuck with the church."

by stevehigh 2006-11-29 06:47AM | 0 recs
Re: The Mormon grass-roots are dangerous

They're scientologists of the 19th century. If you procreate enough, you can validate any sci-fi religion.

by bobestes 2006-11-29 07:05AM | 0 recs
I'm no fan...

...but they make excellent neighbors.

If you wish to drag up 19th Century shit, don't forget the Mt. Meadow Massacre where they slaughtered non-Mormon settlers, including women and children, while cravenly dressing up in war paint and feathers to blame the butchery on Native Americans.

I guess you could say, when it comes to Mormons, I am one prejudiced son-of-a-bitch.

Although I'm not proud of it.

by stevehigh 2006-11-29 07:17AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm no fan...

Try living in Utah for a while ...

Utah's an unbelievably beautiful place, blessed with almost any outdoors experience you could want, but lordy, is it a tough place to live if you aren't Mormon. Or even if you're Mormon but not white (I knew a Japanese girl who was Mormon and she couldn't stand Utah).

And I could go on and on about the eccentricities (and worse) of Mormon faith and history.

I agree with you on the energy of the Mormon base. They're generally prosperous, non-threateningly white and suburban, and absolutely dedicated to taking orders and doing the bidding of authority figures. If you wanted to design people to do your precinct walking and general volunteering, you'd come up with the Mormons. Which is exactly the way the leadership of the LDS Church likes it.

by BriVT 2006-11-29 10:05AM | 0 recs
Plus...

...I don't think Starbucks is a big hit there.

by stevehigh 2006-11-29 09:12PM | 0 recs
No

They're scientologists of the 19th century. If you procreate enough, you can validate any sci-fi religion.

I don't think that's fair at all. As someone with a few Mormon friends (both in and out of Utah), I'm familiar with some of the stranger LDS teachings. But to call them a "sci-fi religion" is inaccurate and unfair. The events of their founding are no more ridiculous than any other church, just more recent.

Mind you, I've got no problem making fun of religion from time to time. My own Catholicism is the target of plenty of my own jabs, and I think it's best when people recognize that every belief system has its share of odd beliefs. But calling it a "sci-fi religion" is too much for me.

Unfortunately, Mormons get a bad reputation for either isolated incidents or events 100+ years old. I actually enjoy reading about their history and beliefs (and the copy of the Book of Mormon that was given to us). The better you understand other faiths, the more clearly you can understand your own faith (or lack of faith).

by Fitzy 2006-11-30 12:57PM | 0 recs
He's the rich guy candidate

One thing to keep an eye on is the network of ex-Bain Capital/Bain and Company associates who throw in with Romney. This is a comparatively wealthy class of people, many of whom became venture capitalists and other business elites themselves. They can throw virtually unlimited amounts of money to Romney and/or into independent expenditures.

Romney has the reputation, whether deserved or not, as some kind of business genius. Look for lots of stories about the Salt Lake Olympics and how Romney "saved" it.

My take is that the money manager class had enough of the incompetence and batshit insane religious right. Romney may be Mormon and may have flipped on "values" positions, but he's not insane.

He'll take care of the executive class well enough should he become President. Another flop on social issues is a small price to people making millions and billions of dollars. This is a class thing, not a social values thing.

by jondevore 2006-11-29 07:17AM | 0 recs
Re: He's the rich guy candidate

This is right! Billionaires have done very well indeed by Bush, but they couldn't care less (as a class) about issues like abortion or prayer in schools or gun control. A few of them as individuals care, just as a few multi-millionaires care about aids or global warming.

But, as a group they couldn't care less about any of that stuff. What they DO care about is business deregulation and lowering taxes on billionaires -- and Republicans have delivered.

As far as immigration is concerned they are actively hostile to doing anything that would actually increase the cost of labor by slowing or eliminating illegal immigration, so they opposed to the right's position on immigration. They probably don't mind useless gestures like the border fence that will accomplish nothing, but anything like puting more pressure on employers is a no-no.

But, it's all about power. They have no problem with a hard-right president like Bush, but they get nervous when that fanaticism breeds resistence and starts people organizing and talking about increasing corporate taxes and fining polluters.

They'd rather have a consensus Republican who would be a social moderate and fiscal conservative (i.e. more corprorate tax breaks).

McCain is probably their man, but Romney would work too.

I would think they'd prefer McCain because he's more likely to win.

Although frankly, I don't think either Hillary or Obama would do anything to offend any of these people, they're also likely to try and close the deficit and that might mean raising taxes on the rich, which they wouldn't like.

by Cugel 2006-11-29 10:14AM | 0 recs
figure of speech?

what exactly is 'between' a 'complete' and a 'utter' failure?

by john in california 2006-11-29 08:22AM | 0 recs
Re: figure of speech?

A computer failure. Or complutter. I haven't the time to look it up.

by sxp151 2006-11-30 12:58PM | 0 recs
Don't Discount Romney

You should not discount Romney's chances in a general election.  CA Pol Junkie's grand unifying theory of presidential elections is as follows:

The winner of the presidential general election is the candidate who would be elected prom king.

This is based on low information voters going "with their gut", which means voting for the guy they like.  The more charismatic candidate has won every election going back to at least 1976, and Romney has more charisma than any of the Democrats (except maybe Obama if he runs).

by CA Pol Junkie 2006-11-29 08:22AM | 0 recs
Romney is Just a Stalking Horse For McCain!

Now Brownback is a true-blue right-winger who could capture the hearts of the base.

But Romney will just fold like a cheap suit.

If Brownback gets in that means the wingers are serious about making some noise in 2008.

Frankly, I don't see why not. They think that the Republican party lost support because they "betrayed" conservative values, so obviously the thing to do is nominate a true wing-nut for 2008.

But, the Republican party is a business party and they aren't interested in ideological purity, they are only interested in power.

So McCain is their man becuase he can win. Nothing else matters and the wing-nuts will just have to forget about it.

I don't know how they can stand it. McCain is the Republican Leiberman. He's talking like a rightie now but how will he govern?

Will he really nominate another fascist for the S.Ct if he gets the chance even if Democrats control the senate (which is likely) or will he "compromise" like Gerald Ford did with the nomination of John Paul Stevens. Righties weren't too happy with that.

by Cugel 2006-11-29 08:43AM | 0 recs
Sure, why not?

The GOP already has a Moron candidate with his hat in the ring (Duncan Hunter). That should work to Romney's benefit, since the distinction will help him clarify that he's not that, he's the Mormon.

Ye gods, talk about underwhelming candidates; a clueless San Diego-area fan of Cunningham, just barely to the left (I think) of Hitler, and one of the nation's least popular governors.

Unless Romney can make a firm peace with the Dobson claque, I think he's not got a chance.

by ogre 2006-11-30 11:28AM | 0 recs
2004 state races

Let us not forget the 2004 race for the Massachusetts state legislature, where Romney spent unprecedented amounts of money and almost all of his personal political capital to elect Republicans to the statehouse, to help defeat the marryin' o' the gays.

The Republicans LOST seats in the state legislature that year.  It effectively killed the GOP in Massachusetts politics.  How dead are they?  In 2006, the Green-Rainbow Party fielded more candidates for statewide races than the GOP did.

Romney doesn't have a chance.

by BarmyFotheringayPhipps 2006-11-30 12:44PM | 0 recs

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