I am supposed to like Mitt Romney. Some of my GOP friends refer to me as a “squishy Dem” which is actually true. My closest friends and clients on the GOP side are all solidly behind Romney from day one. (The vast majority of them are much more conservative than Romney which begs the question regarding his supporters; dyed-in-the-wool supporters or cold political calculation?) I am expected to fall in line. I am the exact kind of voter a candidate like Mitt Romney is supposed to attract.
Except, that is not the case. There are two major reasons.
First, Mitt Romney does not stand for anything. The easiest way to explain this is to refer you to this article right here. I am not for ideological purity (I’m pro-life, but I was a Bob Ehrlich supporter…and a Hillary Clinton supporter. More on that later.), but I am for authenticity. Don’t run your talking points by a focus group or a poll before you adopt them as your own. If you are a liberal, don’t be ashamed of it. If you are a conservative, let that be known. However, don’t try to be cute with it and have it every single way possible. A friend to all is a friend to none.
I met Mitt Romney in person once. He did not impress me. He came off publicly as stiff, scripted, aloof, and manufactured. John Kerry, much?
Second, a good number of Mitt Romney’s supporters take offense to my political allegiances. I have always regarded Romney’s base of supporters as elitist, entitled, and exclusive, especially inside the Beltway. The easiest way to see this play out is to mention that you are a supporter of Sarah Palin as I am (I’m not that conservative, if at all, but there are are many non-political and political reasons as to why I’m a fan of Governor Palin.). The reaction you get from Romney supporters ranges from tepid to visceral.
When I am in a room full of Romney supporters and I hear disparaging remarks about Sarah Palin, I kindly mention that if it were not for Sarah Palin, I would still be a Democrat today and would not have likely did all this work for GOP candidates, some of whom have become like family to me (the family ties are priceless). Many of these Romney supporters, knowing the sweat equity I have put in for GOP candidates since ’09 and understanding the need to build the party, would just as gladly see me excommunicated from the GOP along with Sarah Palin and the rest of the Palinistas. It is insulting and unwelcoming.
It is all about power with Romney and his supporters. “Big tent” they are not.
Here is my one single bit of advice for the Romney camp. As much as I don’t fit in with Romney supporters and neither do they want me, Mitt Romney as an individual out of the spotlight, is actually a good guy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with playing up the character and personal qualities of the candidate to the point where it rivals issue positions. In fact, that is my modus operandi as a consultant and I know it works.
It is far too late in the game for Romney to change course however. Instead of running as a role model and a uniter from the start which would have been a safer and more steady strategy, he has been running as anything that looks good in the polls. Romney’s recent iteration before a conservative CPAC crowd is being “severely conservative” despite a public record to the contrary.
I am “severely convinced” that Mitt Romney will not earn my vote.
Cottle, Michelle (Jan. 14, 2012). Mitt Romney: The GOP’s Own John Kerry, or Is He More an Al Gore? The Daily Beast. Retrieved from http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/01/14/mitt-romney-the-gop-s-own-john-kerry-or-is-he-more-an-al-gore.html
Thier, Dave (Feb. 1, 2012). Mitt Romney is the John Kerry of The GOP. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2012/02/01/mitt-romney-is-the-john-kerry-of-the-gop/