December 15, 2005

Catcher's Mitt

Hatched by Dafydd

In a Captain Renault moment, we were all shocked, shocked when Mitt Romney announced that he would not run for reelection in 2006 as governor of Massachusetts... thus freeing himself to run for the presidency in 2008.

The New York Times has a longish analysis of his various feathers and black eyes. He has been moving to the right on a host of issues lately, clearly trying to challenge other Republican contenders (former Virginia Gov. George Allen, former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani, possibly Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and of course current pain in the butt from Arizona, Sen. John McCain) from the right. But Romney's earlier, more socially liberal positions may cause a problem, unless he confronts them head-on and explains why he recently changed his mind on, e.g., abortion, stem-cell research, global warming, drilling in ANWR, and other hot-button issues.

The NYT article tries to stir up some religious hatred (AP doesn't mention it):

Analysts said Mr. Romney's business background and telegenic qualities are politically appealing, while his changes of position on issues like abortion and his Mormon faith, a religion that some evangelical Christians dismiss, are vulnerabilities.

This is nonsense; the idea that evangelical Christians would refuse to vote for a conservative Republican candidate simply because he's a Mormon is nothing but anti-Christian bigotry in the mind of the NYT reporter (Pam Belluck); and the fact that she felt compelled to outsource the bigotry to some unnamed "analysts" tells us that she was uncomfortable with the slander even while making it.

There are some advantages and disadvantages to Romney's campaign that the Times doesn't mention:

  • Because he hails from a liberal Yankee state, Massachusetts, some Southern voters may be somewhat leery... particuarly when a fellow Southerner (George Allen of Virginia) is running against him in the primaries.

    If Romney wins the nomination and ends up running against Gov. Mark Warner of VA, this could be a problem; but I think the only Southern state that Warner might win against Romney would be Virginia, and even that is a big maybe. When it comes right down to it, although Southern states are willing to vote for Democrats at the state level (Warner himself, for example), they tend to be very reluctant to vote for them for president.

  • But by the same token, a conservative Republican from Massachusetts will probably do better in the Midwest than a conservative Republican from the South; while I'm extremely skeptical about religious bigotry on the part of "evangelical Christians" (on the part of liberals is another story), there is no question that regional bigotry is alive and well.

    But there were a number of states in the Middlewest (or thereabouts) that narrowly went to the Democrats in 2004, including Michigan (17 ev), Wisconsin (10), and Minnesota (10), any one of which would replace Virginia (13 ev, if that went to Warner) and still give Romney the win.

  • And speaking of Michigan, it can't hurt that Romney's father, George Romney, was a twice-elected governor of that state in the 1960s.

This primary season will put me into a quandry I haven't had before in my entire adult life: there will be on the Republican primary ballot not one, not two, but three candidates (at least!), each of whom I think would make an excellent president: Romney, Allen, and Pawlenty (I think Tim Pawlenty is still a possibility; he hasn't officially said no, has he?). In addition, while I'm not all that wild about Giuliani, I don't despise him the way I do McCain. So who to vote for?

Of course, in reality, I won't have this dilemma... since I live in California, by the time our primary is held, the nomination -- and possibly even the general election -- will already have been decided!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 15, 2005, at the time of 4:04 PM

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The following hissed in response by: stackja1945

A Mormon or A Clinton? Easy answer!

The above hissed in response by: stackja1945 [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 15, 2005 5:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: Steven Den Beste

Well, we've had our share of Democratic presidential candidates from Massachusetts (at least four in my lifetime) so a Republican from Massachusetts is certainly an interesting change.

The above hissed in response by: Steven Den Beste [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 15, 2005 6:38 PM

The following hissed in response by: Kent

I think the religious issue is hotter than you think. While it may or may not be important in itself, it will be a springboard for (unfounded) accusations that Romney is a racist.

The above hissed in response by: Kent [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 16, 2005 9:05 AM

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