By Steve Baldwin
The GOP establishment and some conservative pundits, such as Ann Coulter, are in full defense mode, claiming that Romney is not responsible for losing to an incumbent responsible for perhaps the most damaging fiscal crises in our nation’s history. Don’t believe it. Romney IS responsible for wasting a billion dollars carrying out an issue-free campaign full of simple-minded platitudes. Indeed, Coulter is leading the charge with her recent column titled, Don’t Blame Romney. It’s sweet to watch Coulter defend her darling Romney, but let’s get real.
The reality is that Romney was one of the worst GOP presidential candidates in modern times. He was not the first choice of most conservative voters but he managed to rise through the ranks in the primary due to conservatives being split 4-5 ways, but also due to a slew of endorsements from conservative leaders and groups that had no business endorsing him – such as Ann Coulter. Repeatedly, Coulter assured conservatives that Romney was one of us and that he would be the “best possible candidate” to face Obama. But as any conservative from Massachusetts knew, Romney was a liberal at heart who, as Governor, led the nation in passing three of the left’s most sacred issues: Same sex marriage, Cap and Trade, and government control of health care.
But the Romney forces were clever. Beginning in 2004, they created a half dozen PACs to give money to conservative and GOP entities all over the country. I’ve reviewed these disclosures and hundreds of GOP and conservative entities benefited from Romney’s largess. In other words, he bought the support of many “conservative leaders” and used that support to give himself “cred” among conservative voters. It was a phony image though and it’s shameful that so many conservative leaders went along with this ruse.
As a result, Romney’s liberal record on taxes (yes, he taxed the corporate world in Massachusetts), Cap and Trade (first in the nation!), gay marriage, gay rights, quotas, gun control, immigration, etc., was little known outside of Massachusetts because many of America’s leading conservatives decided to portray him as someone he wasn’t. Even a number of prominent right to life and national pro-family groups and leaders made a decision to remake Romney as a conservative even though they knew he was not. I should know; I briefed many of them about Romney’s record. Had the conservative leadership told the truth about Romney’s record as Governor, it’s likely he wouldn’t have won the GOP nomination.
And why is that relevant? Well, Romney’s liberal record so compromised him that he was unable to attack Obama on a whole range of issues due to fear of Obama using his own positions from just a few years earlier to make him look like a hypocrite. Whether its Cap and Trade, ObamaCare, gun control, gays in the military, religious freedom or even illegal aliens, Romney took these issues off the table because his own record on these issues was not dissimilar to the Obama record.
Coulter goes even so far as to claim Romney lost because “he was too conservative” on immigration issues. What? Romney never even hit Obama on his unconstitutional action to grant amnesty to two million illegal aliens because, as governor, he endorsed McCain’s amnesty legislation. Indeed, despite his phony attacks on Gov. Rick Perry’s immigration record during the GOP primary, Romney’s actual record on immigration was quite liberal. Coulter seems oblivious to this and concluded that his phony primary rhetoric reflected his actual record. It didn’t and Obama knew it. See my piece on Romney’s real immigration record in here: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/291860/romney-conservative-immigration-steve-baldwin
The fact is liberal Republicans do not win presidential races. The obvious reason for this is that RINOs do not offer much of a contrast to a Democrat, or at least a contrast so weak it does not motivate voters to support them. You would think we would have learned this lesson from the McCain and Dole debacles. To make things worse, Romney even agreed with Obama on numerous occasions during the debates, missing great opportunities to instead attack the president. With the economy collapsing all around us, voters were simply not looking for Obama-light.
Moreover, Romney’s strategy of looking presidential but saying nothing controversial was an asinine strategy. All one has to do is watch the old Reagan/Carter debates to see how Reagan strived to showed contrast with Carter at every opportunity. While Reagan was always civil in the way he stated things, he tore Carter’s head off every chance he got.
The list of explosive issues ignored by Romney goes far beyond those that Romney himself was weak on. Take, for example, the Fast and Furious and Benghazi scandals, both of which involved the deaths of Americans and a subsequent cover-up by this administration. The latter scandal, especially, was ripe for Romney to exploit, given the new evidence that Obama refused to assist Americans under attack and then lied to the American public about the reason for the attack. This is an impeachable offense but Romney chose to ignore this issue altogether.
Romney also ignored, for the most part, a whole pattern of Obama cronyism that permeated TARP, the stimulus program, and many government contracts. Similarly, Romney ignored the details of exactly how Obama was destroying the oil, gas and coal industries. He stuck to generalities instead of hammering on issues such as how Obama gave millions of tax dollars to Brazil to drill for oil while harassing our own oil companies to the point they ceased operations in the Gulf.
The Romney team also chose to ignore the lessons of 2010. Here we have a number of stunning congressional upsets inspired by issues such as ObamaCare and the deficit, but Romney’s campaign team acted like 2010 never occurred. The movement that drove the 2010 victories was, of course, the Tea Party movement, but Romney decided he wanted nothing to do with this powerful movement. I’ve spoken with a number of top Tea Party leaders who all were willing to help Romney but were never able to establish any kind of relationship with the campaign. If the Romney campaign had half a brain, they would have featured key Tea Party leaders in prime spots at the GOP convention. Instead, they were hidden in the closets in the back of the convention hall.
Ditto for the Ron Paul movement. It was outrageous how the Romney team refused to sit a number of pro-Ron Paul state delegations at the convention, all because they didn’t want Ron Paul to be nominated so that Romney could enjoy an unanimous nomination. The stupidity of this move was astounding. Romney already had the votes to win the nomination overwhelmingly but his team was so fixated on the appearance of a perfect nominating convention that they decided to disenfranchise the entire Ron Paul movement. Romney lost tens of thousands of Ron Paul supporters for that action alone.
As someone who has networked with conservative activists for 35 years, I know for a fact that large segments of the Tea Party and Ron Paul movements did NOT vote for Romney and I also know that many evangelicals refused to support Romney as well. They knew that Romney was, deep down, a big government, socially liberal Republican and believed that electing Romney would set conservatives back decades. They believed that he would – under the mantle of “conservatism” – carry out a big government agenda instead of taking bold action to tame the deficit or get our economy growing again.
We can debate until we’re blue in the fact about such a stance, but I believe their fears are legitimate and that their motives are sincere. They had many solid reasons to feel this way – Romney’s actual record being Exhibit #1.
When news broke two months ago that Romney had invested in Stericycle, a medical disposal company that contracts out to abortion clinics to dispose of baby parts, that information went viral among the pro-life movement. Many of them, suspicious of Romney to begin with, kept the top line on the ballot blank. Pro-lifers take their issue seriously and the one thing they detest the most are politicians who claim to be pro-life but engage in actions to the contrary.
Likewise, on the gay issue, when information surfaced that Governor Romney actually signed gay marriage into law even though the court never ordered him to do so, and then in the last few months of the campaign announced his support for gays in the military, gays in the Boy Scouts and ENDA-type legislation, that was the final straw for many social conservatives. They simply didn’t see how electing an alleged “conservative” to destroy what’s left of America’s Christian culture would be more beneficial than allowing Obama to remain in the White House.
Indeed, statistics are now showing that at least 2.5 million fewer Republicans voted for Romney than did for McCain. Who were these people? I can tell you who they are. They’re both fiscal conservatives from the Tea Party and Ron Paul movements and social conservatives. Romney went out of his way to anger the Tea Party and Ron Paul movements and then tried to con social conservatives he was one of them. These three groups are the biggest sources of votes and volunteers within the GOP but they were totally disillusioned by the Romney candidacy. And Coulter believes we shouldn’t blame Romney? Perhaps we should blame her and other party leaders for trying to pass off a phony conservative to people who knew better.
Moreover, Romney’s refusal to even address social issues caused him to miss many opportunities to portray Obama as way out of step with Americans. Obama’s support for infanticide and partial birth abortion would have been an excellent target for Romney with 90% of all Americans in opposition to those procedures. Moreover, these issues are excellent bridges to the socially conservative Hispanic community whom Romney apparently wrote off. Similarly, on the gay marriage issue, the vast majority of blacks are very conservative on this issue. However, black voters never found out how radical Obama was on this issue because the Romney campaign took this issue off the table. It apparently never occurred to them how this issue could have been used to break off some of the black vote.
Then there’s the Mormon issue. The GOP establishment has for years had access to polling data showing that 15% – 25% of evangelicals would not vote for a Mormon. We can debate the ethics of that stance forever but that’s not my purpose here. Evangelicals are one of the GOP’s main bases of support but the RINO wing of the party decided their views were irrelevant and continued full speed ahead on the suicide mission of nominating a Mormon. But it gets worse. In many of the key swing states there were super PAC ads running that featured the LDS history of racism, a history that continued even during the years Romney was a LDS bishop. Did the powers that be within the GOP not know that Obama would exploit this issue?
The other big canard showing up on the talking head shows is that “we’re at the same place we’re at before” and “nothing has changed.” Hannity has expressed this view. But let’s get real here. The re-election of Obama will not just continue the status quo; it is far worse than that. ObamaCare will be implemented over the next two years and with all the new mandates on coverage, premiums will skyrocket. Moreover, there are numerous surveys showing that between 20% and 30% of doctors will retire early rather than practice under ObamaCare. This means long waits and the rationing of care. Over the next four years, we will witness the complete destruction of the world’s greatest health care system. The history of socialism in Europe demonstrated that once the government controls health care, the march to socialism accelerates quickly in all other areas of the economy. In other words, it may be over.
Moreover, the “poison pill” tax hikes Obama placed into the ObamaCare legislation are all set to go into effect on January 1st, the same date all the Bush tax cuts expire. This fiscal hit will send our economy into a recession, something even Obama’s CBO’s says will happen. Our economy is already at the tipping point so further tax hikes will devastate job creation. Indeed, we can expect not only a return to recession but perhaps even a depression. Expect GDP to go down, unemployment to go up and the percentage of Americans living in poverty to explode. We should not also forget that a slew of new regulations on oil, gas and coal are set to go into effect this year. Such regs will finish off these industries, thus dramatically driving up the cost of gas and electricity. So no, it’s not going to be the same as the last four years . It will be far worse. Prepare for economic collapse and expect riots in the urban areas.
This election was a turning point in American history and undecided voters were looking for new leadership but Romney’s history of flip-flopping on over 30 different issues didn’t give them the confidence they were looking for. Romney was a liberal Republican pretending to be a conservative and that phoniness was detected by the voters. So yes, Ms. Coulter, Romney does share much of the blame. And so do you.
Steve Baldwin is a 35-year veteran of the conservative movement. He is the author of From Crayons to Condoms, the former executive director of Young Americans for Freedom, the former executive director of the Council for National Policy and a former California state legislator.