Love him, hate him, or feel ambivalent toward him, Mitt Romney was “right about everything,” and that is standing him in good stead with the GOP. Indeed, Politico is reporting that Romney is “working to rid the GOP presidential primary of the mayhem that marked his own race”:
Mitt Romney is working with an unlikely collaborator — Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul who bankrolled Newt Gingrich’s 2012 campaign — in the hopes of ensuring that the GOP primary produces a mainstream conservative without any of the mayhem that marked his own race.
The two, who speak monthly, aim to convince the wealthy contributors bankrolling various candidates to work together to avoid the kind of primary election chaos that Romney believes laid the seeds for his defeat in 2012. The former Massachusetts governor is also considering endorsing a candidate to achieve his goal.
They’re unmistakable signs of Romney’s newly assertive role in the Republican Party but also of his determination to guarantee the GOP an unbloodied nominee with broad-based appeal.
I can’t help but wonder if Romney is actually right about what went wrong in his own race, though, because there is a lot of push back from the base when it comes to “mainstream” Republicans who have “broad-based appeal.” We typically don’t see them as viable conservative candidates (to put it mildly). The idea of the need to rush to center (or center-left) with a “moderate” “electable” candidate to win a general election is misguided.
Yet following his 2012 defeat, Romney claimed that he lost, in part, because he didn’t get enough of the Hispanic vote. This seems a misread of the results, including the number of conservatives who didn’t turn out for him (though Karl Rove disputed this).
Conservative author Ann Coulter says Republicans shouldn’t count on picking up Hispanic voters if Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., becomes the nominee, and instead says the GOP should focus on expanding the universe of white voters.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner media desk, Coulter said the white vote is key, even as the party has made an effort to reach out to more minorities, whose political influence has increased.
“Drive up the white vote,” she said. “You don’t see Democrats thinking, ‘How do we get more of the evangelical vote? How do we get more of the gun owner vote?’ No, they know that isn’t their base.”
She has a point. Progressives are great at getting Republicans to do counterintuitive things, and one example is getting them to focus on voters they have no hope of winning over. Ever.
With this in mind, Romney may not be the best person to become the figure-head of the Republican Party. And as Politico reports, that seems to be the idea:
For a failed nominee who waged a presidential bid that many in his party found disappointing, Romney maintains a striking degree of influence. In part, it’s because of his unique mix of business acumen and political skills, but it’s also a recognition of his deep access to the complex, jungle-like world of super PAC donors. In a party that lacks a unifying figure, he’s eager to fill the void.
“I think he realizes he has a good role to play,” said Ron Kaufman, a longtime Romney friend and adviser who is a Republican National Committeeman. “He can be a senior statesman.”
As the Democrats move further and further left, Romney Republicans seek to fill that center-left void. The “mayhem” they seek to avoid is a serious primary challenge by a Constitutional conservative, so setting Romney up as a “unifying figure” of the Republican Party seems a bit of a stretch at this stage of the primary process.
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