South Carolina not buying Romney

Or so says NRO’s Byron York in a great article. There are a bunch of really important parts to this article. The first is about how Romney is using his religion to cover for his record:

Oran Smith, pro-life, questions Romney’s explanation in a more subtle way. In talks with conservative Christians, Smith points out, Romney has often addressed the issue of his Mormon faith by saying something to the effect of, “Our faiths are different, but they bring us to the same positions on the issues.” But by all accounts, Romney was a faithful Mormon when he was solidly pro-choice, and he is a faithful Mormon today when he is solidly pro-life. How, precisely, did his faith bring him to different positions, then and now? “Christians generally like for someone to have a conversion experience and a mea culpa moment,” says Smith. “But he doesn’t have that to turn to. He can’t say, ‘My faith changed, and therefore my views changed.’ That’s the normal thing with Republicans who move to the right on some issues — they claim to have had some spiritual transformation.”

In other words, Romney raises the issue of his religion to imply he’s a conservative (when he or his staff doesn’t just lie about it outright) I have said before that it is better for Romney to talk about Mormonism than it is to talk about his record. Article 6 Blog tried to sell this same proposition today by saying that Mormons and Southern Baptists have more in common, politically, than people who share similar theology, like Southern Baptists and the Sojourners crowd. Romney’s problem is that his politics haven’t been driven by his belief, as the quote above demonstrates.

The other just speaks for itself. Remember, Romney’s conversion is not that he’s changed positions but rather that his stem-cell conversion experience made him stand up for what he believed in more. But that’s not what one pro-choice activist saw:

Pro-choice activists who interviewed Romney at the time remember an unmistakable commitment to abortion rights. “He was very clear about wanting to make clear that he was pro-choice,” recalls Melissa Kogut, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. “He clearly was convincing us that he was pro-choice, and he was aggressive about it.

In the end, the real point is:

When it becomes a pattern, that’s what causes people to be fearful,” says Oran Smith, head of the pro-life Palmetto Family Council, who has not committed to any candidate in the race. “The Reagan thing, the abortion thing, the gay thing — if you mix all of that together, is there a pattern?”

A number of people have commented that Romney is lucky that this is happening now, but I’m not so sure. His supporters are detecting that there’s a pattern, and I have heard rumors that people are beginning to bail in California and Michigan.

Romney’s staff lies about abortion in South Carolina

In an article in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal (SC), a spokesman for Mitt Romney’s Commonwealth PAC is quoted:

"Gov. Romney has always stood on the side of life, he’s been a fierce defender of the sanctity of marriage, and will continue to fight for those conservative principles. Gov. Romney is a person of faith, and that’s important to most Americans. He leads by example with character and integrity, and has been married to the same woman for more than 30 years," said Young, who notes that he is a Southern Baptist and Bob Jones University graduate.

This is a lie. Redstate has documented this well in response to an interview in which Romney himself said something similar. And LifeNews describes Romney as "recently became pro-life".

Indeed, just today, Romney’s hometown paper, the Boston Globe, published a list of  Romney’s "Changing Views". On abortion it said:

Abortion

Then: In 1994 and 2002, Romney expressed strong support for abortion rights. "I respect and will protect a women’s right to choose," he wrote in a 2002 NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts questionnaire. "This choice is a deeply personal one. Women should be free to choose based on their own beliefs, not mine and not the government’s."

Now: Romney said his education on stem cell research led him to reevaluate his position. "I’m committed to promoting the culture of life," Romney said in an interview with the National Review last week. "Like Ronald Reagan, and [former Illinois congressman] Henry Hyde, and others who became pro life, I had this issue wrong in the past."

"Always stood on the side of life"? He lies. And when he’s caught, he calls it a conversion.

California GOP money getting lined up

California’s Flash Report has two posts (here and here) about the GOP money that is getting lined up in California. A summary below:

John McCain: Jon Fleishman calls Donald Bren "the biggest prize in the sweepstakes for prominent figures in the California Republican finance community". One California consultant told me that when Bren’s name was released by McCain, "a bunch of Romney’s solid commitments were suddenly uncommitted." Don Bren is one  of the leaders of The New Majority, a donor group in Southern California. Shawn Steele, former Chairman of the State Party, notes that McCain is investing an awful lot of infrastructure of California.

Mitt Romney: Romney has been on the ground everywhere all the time in California, and in the process, he’s got some great people. One is Hadi Makarechian, also a New Majority leader. Romney also brings from RGA a strong fundraiser in Anne Dunsmore. Clearly a quite formidable team.

Rudy Giuliani
: The Mayor has Bill Simon, former candidate for Governor and son of Nixon’s Secretary of the Treasury. In addition to raising lots of money, Simon can give Rudy some street credibility with some

Boston Globe sends Romney a warning: Stop blowing us off

The Boston Globe says that Romney used to be accessible and responsive and ever on message. Now not so much:

But as Romney prepares to leave office… [h]e has entered a brush-past, sorry-got-to- run, talk-to-my-office stage.

Romney has, for the most part, successfully avoided the press in Boston and elsewhere in recent days, even as questions mount about his past comments on gay rights, his conservative credentials, and the timing of his expected announcement about his 2008 presidential run.

However, as his Great Disciple pointed out, he didn’t ignore her. In fact, he used her interview as a strategy when he was otherwise running from the press. This fact did not escape the Globe either:

He granted an exclusive interview this week with the conservative magazine National Review, but has carefully choreographed the waning days of his Beacon Hill tenure to spend … even less time fielding questions from the news media.

Consider Wednesday’s annual Christmas tree and menorah lighting ceremony …  the governor breezed past reporters waiting outside his office. "Merry Christmas, guys," he said with a smile.

Outside, once the tree and menorah were glowing, the carols sung, and the revelry over, Romney avoided reporters again by taking a different route off the second-floor steps.

Now the Disciple’s interview was published the same day as an AP article in which Romney clearly blew of f a reporter. And the AP reporter, Allison Hoffman, even mentioned it:

At a Republican event in downtown San Diego Monday night, an Associated Press reporter tried to approach him with a question. "Thanks, I have other people to talk to right now," Romney said.

And so the story goes with a litany of times that Romney ignored and ran from the press. The reporters that I talk to are angry at Romney. If he treats them like this, it is going to get worse for him, not better.  The Boston Globe has already indicated that it is willing to investigate a Presidential candidate. But if the reporters turn openly hostile, it is going to get harder on Romney.

Romney “Flip-Flopper” meme sticking in MSM (update)

Update: Drew Cline from the Union Leader corrects me. He says:

Some anti-Mitt Romney outfit calling itself eyeon08.com has included me in a list of “MSM” members down on Romney for flip-flopping on abortion and marriage. Not so. I haven’t made up my mind about Romney yet. Nor do I have to. It’s a long way to the primary. Heck, I haven’t even interviewed him yet. But I do like his hair.

I hope that I didn’t over-characterize his statement which I quoted. And I’d like to not so much think of myself as anti-Romney as just a rubber-necker, looking at the car crashes with perverse interest. In any case, my apologies for lumping. I think that Mr. Cline did make some statements that bear some similarities with the other sources I quoted.

Original post:
Well, for starters, Drew Cline, editorial page editor of New Hampshire’s very important Union-Leader calls Romney’s flip-flop a "change of heart" and says that he is "not sure a lot of conservatives will find" the explanations "convincing".

AP ran a story today that Fox News titled, "Gov. Mitt Romney Denies ‘Flip-Flop,’ Says He’s Opposed to Gay Marriage and Abortion."

DaveG from Race42008 notes Bob Novak’s column on "McCain Inc." and says:

Second, this is the first time in a long time that I’ve seen Mitt tagged with the “former social liberal” problem by the MSM.  It looks like the fisking Romney’s been getting on the blogosphere is working its way into the CW.

Never mind Novak saying, "The combination of this and his abortion flip-flop could strangle his candidacy in its crib."

Dick Morris didn’t think that it stopped there. He even called it a "flip-flop-flipped":

Since Romney has flip-flop-flipped, going from pro-life to pro-choice to pro-life, he is unlikely to gain traction on the right.

CBN puts Romney’s “pro-gay letter” on TV!

In day 4 of Pat Robertson’s offensive on Mitt Romney, the Christian Broadcasting Network ran a segment on TV about Romney’s Log Cabin letter entitled "Romney’s Pro-Gay Letter". Watch it here. Some tasty quotes:

It could be a big problem. It really depends on whether he comes across as credible on this in what he says and what he does.

A group in Massachusetts, the pro-family MassResistance has long been criticizing Romney, questioning his sincerety on this issue. They say he has an anti-family position on certain subjects like homosexual adoptions and gays in the Boy Scouts.

It will be interesting to watch to see how Governor Romney gets out of this one with especially with Evangelicals. These are voters he needs in the worst way if he’s going to win the presidency. You know he’s Mormon, so for some Evangelicals that’s strike one right there. Now this letter. Strike two. Is strike three just around the corner?

I hear that as a message. In other news, it appears that Romney has flip-flopped, according to Hotline, (which refers to K-Lo as "his National Review admirer") on gays in the military. Before he appeared to be extending that. Now, not so much. And same for ENDA.

The Calendar, Compression, and who it favors

Jerome Armstrong, at myDD, and Kos have started to write on the primary calendar. They have both argued that, to some extent, it favors John McCain. Two points should be made.

First, it won’t be as compressed as it looks. There is strong evidence that New Hampshire will move up to January 7 on the principal that:

  1. The only primary or caucus that can proceed it is Iowa.
  2. They will 7 or may days in front of any other contest.
  3. They will skip Iowa if they have to
  4. They will be on a Tuesday

My understanding is that this is the public position of Bill Gardner, NH’s Secretary of State. And all that has to happen in NH to fix the day is Bill has to write a letter. That day would be Jan 7. And I don’t think that Bill Gardner cares what Howard Dean would do. The showdown at the DNC when the Credentials Committee strips New Hampshire of its delegates because of a 90% position in the electorate of NH would be amusing, to say the least. My understanding is that this is all conventional wisdom now in New Hampshire.

So what would Iowa do? Move up too. Not to December 31st or 24th, for obvious reasons. So…. The 17th? The 10th? Of December? 12 months away? Yup.

So my prediction is:

  1. Dec 17th for IA
  2. Jan 7th for NH
  3. Jan 28th for SC
  4. Feb 5th for everyone else

With a strong chance that Michigan tries to move up to the 28th.

Now on to the question of who this favors. If there’s 3 weeks between Iowa and New Hampshire and 3 weeks between New Hampshire and South Carolina (and no one else moves up) then an insurgent winner in IA could have a chance in NH and SC. But the wall on February 5th is hard to climb. It costs a lot to compete in Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri, and New Jersey. Name ID will have to be purchased. And people on the ground now (or almost now) will matter. That puts a premium on money and organization now. That’s why poor insurgents like Sam Brownback and Newt Gingrich will shape the debate but it is still a 2 or 3 person race.

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).

Novak: Blogosphere “deflated” on Romney?

Bob Novak’s review of 2008 candidates had little to say about Mitt Romney other than he’s gotten creamed this week:

The key to Romney, though, seems to be that he shifts his positions on issues important to Republican primary voters. The Log Cabin letter was cleverly released by someone while Romney was in Japan, and he did not respond for four days. The combination of this and his abortion flip-flop could strangle his candidacy in its crib — it has already deflated him somewhat in the blogosphere.

Deflated? I don’t know about that. But could you imagine this kind of negative anti-Romney snarkiness last week?

So Blunt makes cloning a constitutional right in his state, and Romney vows to ban it nationally? That’s a division of labor, I guess.

Or from Redstate.