Will Willard Mitt Romney actually fulfill the Republican tradition of nominating the next man in line for a run at the Presidency? Probably. Will Romney ever have the full hearted support of the rightest wing of the Republican Party? Probably not. It’s been pretty clear from the get-go that a whole bunch of the GOP members have wanted “anyone but Romney”. Most of the evangelical Christian Right and much of the TEA Party have been willingly, nay eagerly, throwing their support behind one candidate after another as long as they were not Romney. Maybe it is the “Mormon” thing. Maybe it is the “wooden” thing. Maybe it is even the “central casting” look. It is probably all of the above and some other things too.
But I think the key “thing” is something that the Party members find missing in Romney; the red meat- go for the jugular thing. Romney shows no real tendency or inclination to go for the most visceral approach to attacking his opponents. He will challenge any of his opponents within the Party as being too much of a Washington insider or professional politician versus his short term, almost amateur career in politics. He will say that his private business experience makes him more suited to take on the job of top professional political insider than those who have spent a lifetime developing their skills in Washington. But he does so in an almost teasing rather than attacking fashion. Even when he goes after President Obama; Romney is more likely to call him a European style big government socialist type then condemn him as the “food stamp President”. Romney rarely tosses out gratuitous red meat to the crowd and never goes for the jugular.
But all the other “not Romney” candidates have and do. And that is what a big chunk of the Rep Party members seem to want, nay crave. Before the primaries even started it was Sarah Palin spouting the standard right wing anti-big government harangues that the broad base of the GOP just loved to hear. Then it was Donald The Trump who popped to the fore with his birther based bid to gin up the crowds. Then there was Michelle Bachman with her one-trick-pony act of; “I’ll fight Obamacare”, which she repeated over and over, no matter what the issue; without telling anyone exactly why she was against health care being made more accessible. After her came Rick “the Hair” Perry making a lot of cowboy wind about how he was going to shut down three cabinet departments; if he could have remembered which ones he had in mind. Then there was Herman Cain with his famous “if you aren’t rich, it’s your own fault” line that reinforces the kind of libertarian unwillingness to be generous to those viewed to be undeserving as put forward by Ron Paul. Rick Santorum got to near the top by mouthing 1980’s conservative Christian lines about taking away women’s reproductive and health care choices and banning same sex marriage because his interpretation of his particular Christian Bible. Huntsman was the only one not considered for number the one spot; because he blended right into the walls and was too much like Romney.
Absent the ability to throw out the red meat on subjects such as race, food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, Social Security and any other program for either the young, old or poor; Romney is never going to win the hearts and minds of about 2/3’s of the Republican base of voters. Even after he has almost won Iowa, triumphed in New Hampshire, and came in kind of close in South Carolina, the Reps are still looking for a stop Romney candidate. And they have seemed to find themselves one. Rising up from the down, out and dead, Newt Gingrich seems to have captured the hearts and minds and mostly the guts of all the parts of the Rep big tent that Romney can’t seem to get to warm up to him.
The Main Stream of the GOP, a combination of well off Main Streeters and the very well off Wall Streeters, seem exceedingly content with Romney. They believe that he understands their fears and aspirations. He shares their (the 1%) fear of losing any more of their money to taxes and have it used it give the non-rich (the 99%) some economic assistance like; unemployment benefits, food banks for hungry children, shelters for those with nowhere to live. But compared to the real red meat candidates who are appealing to the working class and poor of the Republican mob; Romney’s economic package it considerably less Draconian. He only wants to maintain the excessive economic advantages that the rich already have. The Red Meaters want to extend and expand the give-aways to the rich, including eliminating their taxes entirely; while sharply decreasing the volume and kind of services provided to the not-so-rich, including eliminating some of them entirely. The Red Meat plans will not help the vast majority of Republicans, in fact it will have a significant negative impact on many of them. But despite that, they believe that taking from those who they believe to be the undeserving poor and giving to the even less deserving rich, will help them. Because that’s what the throwers of Red Meat say to them. And because that’s what they want to hear; that’s what they falsely believe will happen. They believe these promises of an improvement in their economic lives, like they have believed the promise of banning abortion for the last 30 years; even though the GOP never makes it happen.
So Romney finds himself in a stiff uphill battle against the ultra-right promises, to capture the prize he and his backers thinks he deserves. Fortunately he and his backers have suitcases full of money. And money is the critical, essential, indispensible thing needed to, if not win hearts and minds, to win votes of the GOP rank and file. Thanks to the Citizens United decision, the very wealthy have no limits on their ability to use their wealth to try and pick and elect a Republican nominee who will do everything in his considerable power, should he win the Presidency, to make sure they are repaid for their investment in him, many times over. At least that’s what the men behind the curtain hope. The traditional big business board of directors which run the GOP also believe that a real Red Meater, might be more popular than Romney; but has a much lesser chance of actually of beating Obama. So while the T’s and Evangelicals who like to hear their nominee call Obama everything but a Democrat; the real power (money) in the Republican Party want someone who has the best chance of representing them in Washington, and that person is not a Red Meater.