The following blog post was published in the Laurel Leader Call newspaper (Laurel, MS) on April 24, 2012, a column that stresses the need for conservatives to get behind Romney as a means of replacing Obama:
With the recent withdrawal of Rick Santorum from the Republican presidential nomination race, opposition to Mitt Romney has all but evaporated. It is inconceivable that anyone, neither Newt Gingrich nor Ron Paul, can mount the kind of resistance needed to stop the former Massachusetts governor.
So whether we like Romney or hate Romney, conservatives must rally around him in order to keep Obama out of the Oval Office for another four years.
With the nomination all but won, Mitt Romney must make take several key steps to ensure a Republican victory in November.
First, Romney must raise cash, lots of it and fast. Obama and his political team have boasted for the past three years that they planned a $1 billion re-election campaign in 2012. Because of Obama’s sagging popularity, that outcome seems unlikely, as rich supporters, even in Hollywood, have been less than exuberant this time around. But an incumbent president will have plenty of resources to throw against the Republicans no matter how unpopular he may get.
This makes Romney’s candidacy that much more important. Not only does he have copious funds of his own, he has plenty of wealthy friends and has built a very impressive organization since his failed presidential bid in 2008. After a meeting with affluent supporters last week, the Romney campaign feels very confident in its ability to raise $800 million, plenty of cash to take on the Obama White House machine.
Second, Romney must choose a vice presidential running mate that will satisfy a skeptical base and win over enough independents to defeat Obama. Several big names have been thrown around in the past week – Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, and Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina.
Rubio (my pick) would be very popular with the base and with Hispanics, who supported Obama over McCain in 2008, and would help Romney secure Florida, a state he cannot lose and is currently four points behind Obama. Rubio is articulate and smart, but he, like Sarah Palin, has a lack of national experience, which could cause a problem in the fall.
Senator Portman is from the all-important state of Ohio, which no Republican has ever lost and still won the White House. Romney is currently behind Obama in Ohio by six points. Portman’s national experience is phenomenal – twelve years in the U.S. House, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, and U.S. Trade Representative, before his election to the U.S. Senate in 2010. He would be popular with both the base and independents but he is not flashy or charismatic, giving the ticket two wooden candidates.
Christie is charismatic, aggressive, and tough. One would love to see him debate Joe Biden in October. In several polls in the last week, Christie has been the leading candidate. However, the New Jersey governor has some political stances, like gun control and climate change, which might make the base a bit nervous. And having two Northeasterners on the ticket might also upset some in the new “Solid South,” which Romney must carry in total to have any shot at the presidency.
Governor Haley is beautiful, articulate, and Southern, but has no national experience, which could be another “Palin Factor” to consider. She would help with the important female vote, if the campaign feels that is necessary, but with the Democrats’ “war on women” currently blowing up in their faces, that issue seems less important.
Other names bantered about are Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, and even Santorum, which seems unlikely. The VP pick may make or break the ticket.
Third, Romney must go on the offensive against Obama, put him against the ropes, and not let him wiggle free. He must not repeat the same mistakes McCain made in 2008, seeking to run an “honorable” campaign, a race that sent him back to Arizona. Romney must define the issues of the campaign – jobs, debt, economic growth, gas prices – and not let the Democrats choose them. His campaign ads need to be hard-hitting and aggressive, using Obama’s words against him. In 2008, the “Messiah” made promises he could not, nor ever intended to keep, like cutting the deficit in half in four years. Simply remind voters of his un-kept promises.
Though conservatives are not in love with Mitt Romney, we all must be Romney-ites now. Four more years of an unrestrained Barack Obama with the powers of the presidency behind him should be enough to scare voters into heading to the polls in mass in November. Now is not the time for pettiness.
For more on my political philosophy and policy prescriptions for future prosperity, check out my book, The Last Jeffersonian: Grover Cleveland and the Path to Restoring the Republic.