Gillespie to Newsmax: Social Conservatives Eventually Will Embrace Romney

Wednesday, 07 Mar 2012 06:42 PM

By Martin Gould and Ashley Martella

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Evangelical Christians — who have largely supported Mitt Romney’s opponents in the GOP presidential race — will ultimately embrace the former Massachusetts governor once he is the party’s nominee, former White House counselor Ed Gillespie tells Newsmax.TV

They and other social conservatives will forget the divisive primary season and unite behind Romney, who Gillespie believes will be the eventual nominee.

“This is a tough fight with Republican-on-Republican violence,” Gillespie said in the exclusive interview. “But once there’s a clear nominee and if it’s a clear choice between the Republican nominee – who I do believe is likely to be Gov. Romney at this point – and President Obama. And the clear contrasts in his record versus what the Republican nominee is running on, you will see a changed dynamic almost overnight.”

Gillespie said it is not so much that conservatives are turned off by Romney as having other choices. “I don’t know that it is an issue with Mitt Romney so much as a preference for other candidates in the field. That’s the nature of a four-way contest.”

He said even tea party supporters will turn to Romney if he is up against Obama. “Rick Santorum’s message, Newt Gingrich’s message, Ron Paul’s message seems to be resonating more strongly with self-identified tea party voters than Gov. Romney’s message is. But if the choice is not Rick Santorum or Gov. Romney, but Gov. Romney or Barack Obama, those tea party voters would have a different view.”

Story continues below video.

Gillespie said Romney suffers because he is not “vocally conservative.” But he said if Romney is the eventual candidate, conservatives will rally behind him because “there’s no-one as liberal on social issues as Barak Obama.

“Gov. Romney had a record in Massachusetts of supporting traditional marriage and opposing government sanction of same-sex marriage. The Massachusetts Right to Life Committee is very favorable toward him from his time as governor, so he will be able to appeal to those social conservatives if he is the nominee and taking the fight to Barack Obama.”

Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said he recognizes that negative ads and a constant barrage of attacks among the candidates has hit all of their favorability ratings. But he said he does not believe that the damage is permanent and said by the time of the general election, matters such as healthcare, the stimulus, debt, religious freedom and foreign policy would all adversely affect Obama’s chances.

“A president running for reelection faces a referendum and this will be a referendum on President Obama’s failed leadership and his failed policies,” said Gillespie. “Whoever is the Republican nominee is going to have a very strong case to make against this president who will be running in a very difficult economic environment.

“There is a lot of talk about things getting better and maybe they are getting marginally better – I’m glad to see Americans starting to find work again – but there are 3-5 million Americans who have left the labor force since President Obama took office.

“If they begin to come back in looking for jobs, the unemployment rate is likely to stay above 8 percent through November and that’s a tough environment for an incumbent president to get reelected in.”

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