Opinion

Mitt Romney under siege: can the GOP’s one-time frontrunner survive?

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Stewart Lawrence
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      Stewart Lawrence

      Stewart J. Lawrence is a Washington, D.C.-based public policy analyst who writes frequently on immigration and Latino affairs. He is also founder and managing director of Puentes & Associates, Inc., a bilingual survey research and communications firm.

Poor Mitt Romney. He already had one big strike against him — his Mormonism — even before he contemplated his second run for the presidency. But thanks to the Tea Party, he’s also under serious fire for his 2006 Massachusetts health care plan, which his conservative critics liken to Obamacare — dubbing it “Romneycare” — since both plans mandate individual health coverage and expand the reach of Medicaid.

Romney has done his best not to repudiate one of his signature achievements as governor by suggesting that it’s just the kind of “state-based” solution uniquely tailored to local conditions that conservatives should support as an alternative to President Obama’s “federally mandated” plan. But no one’s actually buying that argument. Except, of course, Obama, and his close friend and political ally, current Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who says Romney’s plan is working “brilliantly,” expanding affordable health coverage to nearly 98% of the state’s residents.

The White House, of course, knows a promising “divide-and-rule” strategy when it sees one. Under withering fire from conservatives — and with a majority of independents still opposed to Obamacare — it relishes the opportunity to cite the record of the presumptive GOP nominee as evidence that its own policies, notwithstanding Tea Party charges of “creeping socialism,” are broadly in tune with voter preferences, at least in a state that’s still — Scott Brown, notwithstanding — one of the bluest of the blue.

But as polls show, Romney’s clearly paying the price with conservatives. As the second-place finisher to John McCain in 2008, he’s the GOP’s heir apparent, but, by all appearances, he seems to be fading fast. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who gave McCain and Romney an unexpected run for their money in 2008, besting both in a handful of critical primaries, has been leading Romney in the polls for weeks. And that was before the party’s new gadfly, Donald Trump, entered the fray, pushing Romney to an increasingly distant third nationally, and even lower in some statewide polls.

Romney, from the beginning, has counted on first winning a commanding victory in New Hampshire, then, like the proverbial oil spot, slowly spreading his influence to other states. But last week, in addition to Trump’s surge, he suffered more bad news: his key 2008 New Hampshire political operative, Wally Stickney, has publicly defected to GOP long-shot Jon Huntsman, who’s not only the former governor of Utah and, like Romney, a Mormon, but also Obama’s ambassador to China. The son of a billionaire, Huntsman is perhaps the most moderate GOP candidate currently contemplating a presidential bid — fiscally conservative and broadly pro-life, but still close to Obama and moderate Democrats on issues like cap and trade, immigration, and gay marriage. In fact, he even supported the stimulus package, which is likely to cost him dearly with conservatives.

Still, Stickney’s defection to Huntsman suggests that a shift may be underway among a critical segment of New Hampshire primary voters, who are notoriously independent and unpredictable. McCain won New Hampshire in 2008, but thanks largely to Stickney, Romney did well in and around Salem, which allowed him to finish a close second, earning him GOP contender status. Huntsman, it turns out, is a close ally of McCain and even has friendly ties to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Huntsman was Utah’s governor when Palin was Alaska’s — both had stellar political records while in office — and it was Huntsman who gave the GOP convention speech formally nominating Palin as McCain’s running mate in 2008.

  • agkcrbs

    The writer apparently mistook a week or two of suspicious “writing on the wall”, sandwiched between much longer and more favourable contexts, for a larger trend. I wonder if he feels embarrassed now to see so many of his predictions disproven. Romney continues to poll well across the big and small swing states, and Republicans are realising the hyper-right, starving for power, is perfectly willing to sabotage them into another four years of Obama rule.

    Keep it up, Romney. Many millions of normals who don’t waste time hating and slandering you on these biased venues are waiting for your success next year.

  • kingfish

    MITT ROMNEY, MORMON ILLUMINATI, FORCING CHURCH DIVISION
    http://www.moneyteachers.org/Romney+Splits+Mormon+Church.htm

    EXCERPT
    “Mitt “Illuminati” Romney, is in political partnership with the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers. In fact, the Rockefellers just released a poll that shows Mitt Romney as the only candidate capable of beating Obama in New Hampshire.”

    “In typical Tavistock fashion, Mitt Romney is loved by all things both Satanic and Psychopathic. This is evidenced by the an article written about him by the Illuminati Leadership Council known as the Council on Foreign Relations:”

    “Mitt Romney also stands firmly behind the same policies that are taking these United States into third world status. NAFTA, GATT, Exporting jobs overseas, open border with Mexico. In other words, like Bush before him, Romney is determined to destroy the American Middle Class.”

    “This is the guy that has no problem with letting terrorists, Drug Lords, and child rapists enter the United States through our unprotected border with Mexico. Yet, Mitt Romney helped create “Homeland Security” and child molestation by airport screeners. When it comes to the Bill of Rights, Mitt Romney is silent, unless he is destroying them with his support for the Patriot Act.”

    “Romney has been a proponent of domestic intelligence gathering methods and has called for increased federal funding and participation in such measures. Romney…clearly does not have qualms with domestic spying in general….During his time as governor, Massachusetts opened a “fusion center” for enhanced intelligence analysis within the state. Romney has argued that individual states should play a larger role in domestic intelligence gathering.”

    Romney is a conspiring Globalist openly working towards a slave state where he and his Satanic Psychopathic Allies glut themselves on the labor of former Middle Class Americans.

    Romney…concedes that “climate change is occurring” and that human activity is a contributing factor.” You can’t have Globalism without Climate Change.

  • robb32

    couldn’t care less about his mormonism. However, I won’t vote for Milt Romneycare EVER for two reasons…Rick Perry and Ron Paul…2012
    If the Repubes present Milt as their guy, it’s either third party or four more years of Obamalama, IF the Republic LASTS that long.
    Precious Lord Jesus, come soon!