Richard Viguerie, the stalwart tea party supporter and chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, says conservatives are markedly unenthusiastic about the GOP’s field for 2012 and are “sitting on the sidelines.”
Conservatives have been increasingly restless about their options, following decisions by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and business mogul Donald Trump not to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.
“As of today, because no top-tier, principled, small-government conservative is in the race or about to get in it, most conservatives are disappointed and sitting on the sidelines,” Viguerie tells Newsmax.
Nor does Viguerie think former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s ability to raise gobs of cash — the former Wall Street executive raked in $10 million in a single fund-raiser Monday — will give him much cachet with grass-roots conservatives.
“Romney’s deep pockets have nothing to do with his ability to get conservative support,” Viguerie says. “Conservatives don’t make their decision for president based on someone’s ability to put a few million dollars into a billion dollar campaign.”
Viguerie’s direct-marketing techniques, including his pioneering use of direct mail for political fundraising, are often credited with helping to revitalize the conservative movement in the 1970s and ’80s.
He recently told CNN that the “dream candidate” for conservatives is GOP Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Viguerie says he expects to see a “draft DeMint” campaign begin soon.
If Romney did win the GOP nomination, “he would have a steep hill to climb to get the base of the GOP on board and an acceptable conservative vice president along with him,” Viguerie says.
Even if Romney recruits a conservative running mate to rouse the base, as Arizona Sen. John McCain did in 2008 with his choice then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Viguerie says he would have a lot more work to do to win the support of the party’s movement conservatives.
“He would have to satisfy conservatives in a number of areas, primarily that he would govern as a conservative if elected, that he would select mostly conservatives to run the government, and that he would only appoint conservative judges,” Viguerie says.
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