Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Will the Real Mitt Romney Please Go Viral?

(Update below.)

Yes, if I can help it.

Please go viral, please go viral. (h/t Slate.)

Bonus point since I've got your attention -- and not completely off-point: Romney's troubles don't end when he clinches the nomination.

The conventional wisdom has long been that, like most presidential candidates, Mitt Romney would tack to the right to get the nomination and then pivot and head back to the center for the general election. I've always thought the entire exercise was pointless because most voters would know the tactic inside and out by now and account for it. The above video depends on two things: that most Americans know that Mitt Romney is nearly the greatest practitioner of the tack-right--pivot-back maneuver and that most Americans get that Mitt Romney has, at best, a sincerity problem.

Today's announcement by Paul Ryan, the Republican Party's go-to guy for fiscal matters, of his 2013 budget proposals demonstrated that Mittens will receive no such lucky break. How does Romney move away from radical conservatism? First, the party is so far right and so constantly testing the loyalty of both the members of Congress and its leaders that Romney may find it impossible to pivot to the center (what center?). And second, those who feel that there's trouble down-ticket because of Romney's weakness as a candidate will use their own tactics to get reelected whether or not it's to the detriment of the top of the ticket. Thus Mitt Romney will jump out of one frying pan into another one. Paul Ryan's budget, though remarkably unpopular with establishment Republicans nevertheless throws down a marker that the Tea Party Caucus will embrace, although the far right have indicated that Ryan's radical plan doesn't go far enough!

Mitt Romney ignores these little -- and repeated -- tests at his peril. It hardly matters if gadflies like Santorum and Gingrich go away. As a matter of fact, after the way Romney and his Super Pac money have treated them, how do they sidle back up to the nominee who treated them so brutally? Maybe they don't, which also breaks with tradition.

Exit polls in the various primaries show that many in the Republican base are uneasy with Mitt Romney. How do he keep excitement going for his candidacy? He won't manage it by pivoting to the center, a center that just might not exist anymore.

Update. Top Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom spoke on CNN and said that of course Romney can hit a "reset" button after the bruising primary battle:

For the reasons above and the batshit crazy that seems to be driving GOP conservatives down their path moving forward, I have a hard time believing Romney gets of the hook. Can't blame a campaign for trying.

(h/t Atrios)

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