By Mark Rhoads -
I admit at once that I must write now as a conservative first and only secondarily as a Republican who supports that party only if and only when it might on some occasions serve to support the cause of individual freedom and the Constitution. But as a conservative, of course I also want to see Obama defeated and here is the very brutal truth that Repulicans of all stripes must now confront.
Now that Santorum has left the field and Gingrich and Paul are dead in the water, my biggest worry is that the GOP will still blow this election with mostly RINO Mitt Romney as the nominee because so many people, and not only very conservative voters, just do not trust or like Mitt at a basic level compared to Obama, as outlandish as that must sound to some IR readers.
On a CNN ORC poll taken two days ago, Romney trails Obama on every likability factor measured. There are other horse-race polls hat show Romney in a better position but in almost all he trails well behind Obama with women and not just single career women. I believe that gender problem overlaps the Romney problem on trust in general and is not due to anything Santorum said many weeks ago. Romney's problems are his own right now and not due to any active GOP competitor for the nomination.
I understand the desire of GOP first party loyalists to unite the party behind Romney as the presumptive nominee. After all, Romney spent more than $120 million to beat up his GOP competitors and buy more than half of the 1,114 delegates he needs to win in Tampa. But there are only so many elderly white rich country club members in the general population compared to suburban-dominated GOP primaries in otherwise blue states like Illinois. When you spend that much to buy the nomination, you are not likely to just step aside for the good of the party because of bad poll numbers.
But it would also be very difficult for Romney to now in a few weeks re-invent his cold and calculating personality that he has spent a lifetime building. There is not enough time to buy that. All those wannabe Establishment party elders and potential VEEPs who endorsed Romney are not likely now to back away from the RINO they bet the farm on. But there are just far too many You Tube clips out there from Romney's flip flop past since 1994 that are finally catching up with him to reinforce the image that Romney not does not believe in any core values beyond campaign rhetoric and his business resume.
So the GOP has a bad problem that leaves the party and the country some bad choices. For me and for many IR readers the worst choice is the re-election of Obama. But the presumptive nomination of Mitt Romney leaves little hope that he can reach anywhere close to 270 Electoral Votes in November without any entusiasm from the Tea Party or religious conservatives who drive GOP turnout even if they cannot vote for Obama. A conservative GOP VP choice even it it were Santorum himself could not fix that problem for Romney.
So it is time for more traditional GOP delegates to take a radical step and think for themselves in a creative way to see if there really might be a broad consensus candidate who could use common sense to unite the party and who does not have the past baggage of Romney or Gingrich. They Estalblishment hates Rick Santorum or any other conservative they cannot control and most other "papabilli" have jumped in the tank for Romney. There are still consolation prizes such as Secretary of the Treasury for Romney or Interior Secretary for Gingrich or Fed Chairman for Ron Paul or HHS Secretary for Rick Sanorum where they could all do much good. But for president? If I cannot have Ronald Reagan due to his present condition, my guess would be that a draft for Jeb Bush who is likable despite his family name might have a long-shot chance if as few as 100 delegates signed up quickly to start the ball rolling. Otherwise, we might be doomed to four years more of Obamaism with few effective brakes from Republicans in Congress who Romney could drag down with him. I did not create this problem so please don't shoot the messenger because I would love to be wrong about all this.