Republican conservatives across the country fear that Mitt Romney will be another John McCain, and that 2012 will be a replay of the last GOP presidential primary.
Specifically, conservatives fear that a squabbling, divided field will now enable a center-right contender like Romney to march up the middle and claim the nomination, according to Politico.
Time is running short on activist Republicans who have long yearned for a unifying Mitt Romney alternative in the race – leading some to worry that if they don’t stop him in Iowa on Tuesday, they may not be able to stop him at all, Politico reports.
Some are calling for the conservative base to rally around whichever conservative does best in the caucuses on Tuesday.
“I could see the conservative movement coalescing around somebody that comes out of Iowa strong and sort of becomes the conservative candidate out of Iowa and into New Hampshire,” said conservative strategist Greg Mueller, a onetime adviser to the Pat Buchanan and Steve Forbes campaigns.
“You could see conservatives nationally start to call on the movement, which is not a monolithic thing, to encourage their supporters to get behind the one candidate who might have a shot at winning.”
Nevada conservative activist Chuck Muth predicted to Politico
that whoever wins Iowa, “there’s going to be conservative bloggers and conservative leaders from various organizations and tea party groups that just cannot come to grips yet with Mitt Romney as president.”
David Lane, an influential and low-profile Christian conservative, wrote in an email to associates Friday that he feared a redux of 2008, when Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee split the conservative vote to give John McCain a crucial win in South Carolina.
“We have Fred Thompson to thank for McCain as the Republican nominee in 2008,” wrote Lane, who said he sees Santorum playing a similar role this time by undercutting better-funded opponents.
There’s still a faint hope among some conservatives that a new savior will miraculously sweep into the race, taking advantage of the unsettled field – and Romney’s own shortcomings – to mount a last-minute drive to the convention in Tampa, Politico wrote.
“Maybe another candidate will emerge, perhaps Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. A lot of people are looking for candidates whom they like more the longer and better they know them,” said Morton Blackwell, the longtime conservative activist and Republican National Committee member. “Maybe he would run if Perry drops out.”
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