Hat tip goes to my friend Francesca Chambers of The Washington Examiner and Red Alert Politics for her scoop on how Mitt Romney lost his endorsement from Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine to Rick Santorum due in large part to a rude e-mail about Dewine that one of Romney’s people accidentally sent to Dewine.
While Romney did indeed win Ohio in the end, the contest should have never been close, much less force Romney to mount a come-from-behind victory. Last year, long before a insurgent Rick Santorum would recast himself as a pseudo-working class hero and social warrior, I predicted Santorum would be a novelty candidate who would finish last in the field with less than 1% of GOP support.
That Santorum is giving Romney a run for his stacks of money is akin to Mike Gravel seriously challenging John Kerry for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2004. If you want to be the best, you have to play the best. This GOP primary is not strengthening Romney as a candidate because his opponents are not heavyweights like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It is exposing him as a weak candidate because his primary challengers are weak.
Returning to Chambers’ article, we learn that Romney lost his endorsement from Mike Dewine because Dewine was insulted by Romney’s team member who dismissed Dewine as not worthy of their time after Dewine endorsed Romney. Dewine, despite public statements otherwise, most likely did not switch his endorsement to Santorum because he felt that Santorum was the better candidate. He switched his endorsement as a response to the disrespect he felt from Team Romney.
This falls exactly in line with why I am extremely hesitant to support Mitt Romney despite having plenty of good reasons to do so. People want to participate in campaigns that are open, welcoming, and inclusive. Unless they have a penchant for self-flagellation, people will not participate in campaigns that disrespect them and are exclusive.
As for me, Team Romney has always been hostile to the motivations and inspirations of this working class Sarah Palin Democrat who voted Republican for the first time in 2008 and put in a ton of sweat equity for Republican candidates since 2009. By extension, despite all the hard work I put in and the care for which I craft my work for Republican candidates and officeholders, I get the same rude, dismissive, inhospitable, and negative treatment from self-described “Rockefeller Republicans” when they learn that it was Sarah Palin who inspired me to contribute my talents to Republican candidates.
Why associate yourself with people who, after seeing the invaluable contributions you have made to the team, continue to denigrate your background and worldview? That is not a healthy relationship.
These moderate Republicans practice the same hardline, retaliatory, ideological politics they accuse the Tea Party of practicing. The roots go back to the bitter, fractious battles between Nelson Rockefeller and Barry Goldwater in the 1960s and 1970s. Only the names have changed. I am a fan of neither.*
*[I have a different set of problems with hardcore conservatives which I will expound on in a future article. Choose one - moderate Republican or conservative Republican? I'd rather be a Blue Dog Democrat (Heath Shuler, Dan Boren, Charlie Melacon, etc.) and I was for most of my life until I was excommunicated by the Democrats on one single issue. Yes, they have problems too.]
Political factions, even political parties themselves, talk a good game about being “big tent” so they can garner the numbers needed to win the election or take over the party, but in the end, they are just as likely to react against welcoming new people with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints into the fold because it will dilute their internal influence and subject their power to more internal competition. It is all about power.
Mitt Romney already has inherent weaknesses in attempting to relate to the struggles of everyday working class Americans. His challenges are further exacerbated by the exclusive, elitist attitudes of many of his hardcore supporters. While I reemphasize that some of my closest friends in politics are allied with Romney, three out five of my encounters with Romney supporters are very unpleasant. That is a lot to overcome and judging Team Romney’s performance nationwide, I believe I am not an isolated case.
Team Romney will need a wholesale cultural transformation internally in order to be in the best position to win.