What does Romney’s problem mean for Brownback?

One reader has gotten sick of watching the Romney car-crash and asks:

Yea, I get it, Romney is toast. OK, I want to hear your thoughts on an alternative to the evangelicals, is it Brownback, Huckabee, or Gingrich? They each seem to have strengths.

And what about Tancredo?

I would make several points. First, I don’t think that Romney is toast. Ross Douthat has made one argument. In the end, Romney has three things going for him which will make him the most important #2 to McCain:

  • Romney may be able to raise as much or more money than McCain.
  • Romney will have all the talent he needs at all levels.
  • He is still the most credible anti-McCain because of 1 and 2.

Simply put, I don’t believe that anyone else can put together a 50-state operation, especially in Iowa, which is what it will take to challenge McCain. Although if Giuliani really cranks out the fundraising and makes more celebrity hires like Mike DuHaime, he might really begin to change my mind, especially with a highly compressed calendar.

A breach here has opened and Sam Brownback is doing everything in his power to fill it. I’ve heard that he’s been on the phone this week contacting leaders who are publicly and privately unhappy with Romney. Right now, conservatives and evangelicals, especially, are looking for a leader who is genuinely with them, not just someone they can rent.

But, in the end, Sam Brownback doesn’t become President, and I don’t think Brownback thinks he will be President. He thinks that either, he becomes VP or he becomes the public spokesman for the conservative Christian movement, in the same way that Pat Robertson’s 1988 race made him the public face. (as a side note, this would be quite a shift. The shift from Robertson to a guy who speaks at Call to Renewal would be dramatic for the evangelical movement)

However, I should note that the rise of a Brownback candidacy does not unite the Conservative Movement as a whole. Matt Lewis, from Human Events, points out that he does not have much to offer small government conservatives who are unhappy with Bush’s "Big Government Conserativism":

In recent years I have become very concerned with the new brand of "purpose driven," mega-government compassionate conservatives (of which Sen. Brownback seems to belong).