Uninspired Conservatives Begin to Settle on Romney

Monday, 14 Nov 2011 11:36 AM

By Dan Weil

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Conservative Republicans continue to lack passion for front-runner presidential candidate Mitt Romney, but are starting to see him as almost a sure thing for the nomination, Politico reports.
Romney has helped his standing among conservatives by repeatedly and loudly promising to overturn last year’s healthcare law. And with social issues relegated to the back burner, he hasn’t suffered from his reversals on abortion and gay rights, according to Politico.
“I don’t know if I’d make it inevitable, but when you take everything into consideration, it’s likely he’ll get the nomination,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola — whose group has consistently criticized the former Massachusetts governor — told Politico.
Chocola cited the campaign missteps of Herman Cain and Rick Perry in contrast to the safe but steady path of the Romney effort.
“He has started to be a little more bold, which is what we’d like to see out of him — a little more consistency and a little more boldness in his policies,” Chocola said.
In a Romney contest against President Barack Obama, “I don’t think there’s gonna be any level of excitement for anything other than beating Obama,” he said.
Sarah Huckabee, who worked for Tim Pawlenty’s brief campaign and for her father Mike Huckabee last time around, emblemizes that sentiment.
“While I remain genuinely undecided, the only candidate on my ‘anybody but’ list is Barack Obama,” she told Politico. She said she is impressed with Romney’s discipline, saying the Republican race in his hands.
That discipline has given Romney a gravitas that the other candidates lack.
“[For] most of the other candidates, maybe except for Newt, the biggest problem is the believability factor, of ‘can I see you being president of the United States,’” Bob Vander Plaats, an Iowa social conservative leader, told Politico. “Most people can envision Mitt Romney being president of the United States. He’s cleared that threshold. Now he needs to convince people that they can trust him if he’s elected president of the United States.”
The Romney camp says conservative opposition to him is exaggerated.
“There’s not really an anti-Romney vote, because Romney doesn’t have high negatives,” Romney adviser Stuart Stevens told Politico. “The test of that is when you see Romney against anybody one on one, what happens? He shoots north of 50 [percent] or he beats everybody.”
But there are some Republicans who strongly oppose Romney. RedState.com founder Erick Erickson is one of them.
“Mitt Romney will be the nominee because the other candidates, right now, are a pretty pathetic lot,” Erickson wrote last week.
Erickson urged conservatives not to trust Romney. “Don’t delude yourself into thinking he will take conservatives seriously,” he said. “He got the nomination without them, and he’ll only use them when it is opportunistically convenient for him.”

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