How Romney can Supercharge Conservatives
Conservatives will be enthusiastic about the 2012 election, but only in a negative way because of grim danger of a second Obama term. Kerry, Gore, and Clinton were crummy politicians, but compared to the quiet malevolence of Obama, those Democrats were Boy Scouts. The problem with conservatives is that since Reagan left office, we have had nothing to vote for; George H. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, and John McCain treated conservatives like barely tolerated stepchildren.
Will the Republican presidential campaign this time be as condescending and dull? Mitt Romney, almost unnoticed, has done something no other Republican nominee has done before, at least since 1964: Romney has openly described himself as a "conservative" -- indeed, as "severely conservative." Reagan did not do this, and Goldwater really did not, either. They espoused conservative values, but neither man went out of his way to describe himself as a conservative. Romney has also explicitly attacked the media and the "vast left-wing conspiracy" (Ann Coulter reminds us that Romney, for Massachusetts, was conservative.)
Romney's public declarations suggest a candidate who has grasped that America is involved in an ideological civil war and who has determined to take sides. Beyond that, the scornful treatment of Ann Romney by the media may have touched a deep nerve in the otherwise profoundly sedate Romney. The campaign may reveal this Romney more.
But there is one sure way in which Romney could seal the deal with conservatives: if on June 6, 2012, Scott Walker survives his recall election, Romney should choose Walker as his running mate. There would be no clearer way for Romney to signal the direction of his campaign. The Wall Street Journal has called this recall election "the most important non-presidential election of the decade." Conservatives already view the recall election as absolutely pivotal. Walker has been traveling across the nation, giving speeches and raising money. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce gave Walker a standing ovation.
Governor Walker is a strong fiscal conservative, very similar to Governor Christie in New Jersey, but Walker is also a strong social conservative both politically (he recently signed tough pro-life bills) and personally (he is the son of a pastor and a happily married family man.) The governor also has demonstrated that he absolutely will not back down or be intimidated by leftist thugs.
Sarah Palin was essentially an unknown when McCain picked her. Walker, if he survives the recall, will be the most important conservative politician in America. If Romney chooses Walker, then it will be a call of "Charge!" for every conservative in America, and it will reduce the left to incoherent, quivering blobs of rage. The June recall vote will be the last electoral statement of the American people before the November election; if Walker comes out of that bloody fight victorious, he can translate that momentum quite directly onto the Republican ticket.
Moreover, a Romney-Walker ticket against an Obama-Biden ticket could be fairly presented as governors versus senators or as state governments versus the federal government. The Republican bench of governors is huge and strong: Christie, Martinez, McDonald, Daniel, among other stars. Several of these are popular governors of swing states. And several -- Brewer, Haley, and Jindal -- can speak directly to America, as governors, about the incompetence and venality of Obama.
As a Pew Research poll just released tells us, state governments are viewed much more favorably than the federal government, and the gap is growing. Rick Perry tried to tap a deep vein of political gold: our yearning for less Washington in our lives, even if that does not necessarily mean less government. Where Rick failed, Scott may succeed. Governors Romney and Walker would be helped, in such a campaign of contrasts, by the fact that neither of them has had a Washington career. Mitt was a successful businessman before becoming governor, and Scott was a successful Milwaukee County executive.
The decision to select Walker might be affected by the complete outcome of the recall elections. If only Walker survives while his lieutenant governor, as well as the three
Republican state senators up for recall, loses, then that is one story. If Walker wins comfortably; Kleefisch wins, too; and at least one of the Republican state senators survives, then that is a powerful victory which Governor Romney, if he wants to become President Romney, could use to solidly land a conservative, as well as Republican, victory in November.