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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Romney misses opportunity in Georgia

Apparently former republican Massachusetts governor and presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney decided to endorse Karen Handel. This was a missed opportunity.

It's well known, that Romney has a conservative credential crisis. His time as a Massachusetts governor forced him to make some difficult decisions on social issues - decisions that forced him to choose between winning conservative approval nationwide (before he was even a national candidate) or appeasing his liberal constituency.

However, all of his actions as governor are justifiable in a conservative's eyes through federalism - that is, the belief that these issues ought to be decided on a local and state levels.

Insofar as Romney contends: "My votes regarding gay marriage, abortion and health care were based on my belief that - as a federalist - my primary responsibility as governor was to give the citizens of my state the services they wanted," he can easily oppose the liberal position on these issues at the national level by pointing out that what can and should be decided and applied at the state level does not work as one-size-fits-all national legislative mandate.

That's the beauty of federalism - that the government closest to the people governs best.

Which brings us back to the governor primary in Georgia. Romney can only use Federalism as an "out" to avoid being skewered by the massive base of Republican conservatives on social issues IF he remains disentangled from these issues OR if he takes the opportunity to bolster his conservative credentials by supporting social conservatives.

His endorsement of Handel accomplished neither of these.

The remaining days of jockeying before the Georgia GOP primary runoff will no doubt focus on Handel's associations with the Log Cabin Republicans and the fact that she was the only GOP gubernatorial candidate that Georgia Right to Life did not endorse. As a result, Romney's endorsement of her both re-entangles him in these social issues, and puts him on the side of the fence that will most assuredly cost him the presidential primary in this national political climate.

More Americans describe themselves as “pro-life” on abortion (51%) than “pro-choice” (42%) for the first time since Gallup began asking the question in 1995. It's not exactly the best time to be labeled as (or endorse) the "anti pro-life Republican" in a primary.

Republican support for gay marriage sits at just 35%. So, again, not the best political climate to be (or endorse) the Log Cabin Republican.

What's more... Deal has consistently polled the best against (D) Roy Barnes. So, it's not as if Romney simply went with the flow here and picked the sure thing...

More than any of that, Romney missed the Mt. McKinley of political opportunities by not juxtaposing Sarah Palin's endorsement of Handel. For a change, he'd find himself on the side of the far right, and Palin would be pigeon holed with the moderate alternative.

If nothing else, it would have provided him cannon fodder for presidential debates and interviews down the line. At best, he'd have had an opportunity to start whittling down the horde of social conservative republicans standing between him and the White House.

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