The survivors are Romney and Gingrich: Take your pick
Conservatives in the 2010 election took control of the House and almost did the same in the Senate. And they eagerly looked forward to the 2012 presidential election. They would support one of their own and he/she would lead them to the White House.
The first wave of disillusion set in when their favorite warriors refused to enter the presidential primaries. Gov. Mitch Daniels (IN) said no because of family problems; Gov. Christie (NJ), Gov. Jindal (LA), Sen. Rubio (FL) and Rep. Ryan (WI) did not respond to the call because most of them felt it was too soon for them to bid for such a high position. Most disappointing was ex-Gov. Palin’s (AK) decision to stay out of the race because she believes she can serve her country better as an outsider. Whatever their reasons, the absence of the most active conservatives from the race was a disappointment to those who caused the 2010 upheaval, and who wanted more of the same in 2012.
The serious startup lineup for conservatives in the primaries was: Rep. Michelle Bachman (MN), Gov. Rick Perry (TX), Rep. Ron Paul (TX), ex-Sen. Rick Santorum (PA), Herman Cain (businessmen), ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich (GA), Gov. Mitt Romney (MA).
Bachman, Perry and Santorum were ideal candidates – conservative on social, economic, and military matters. Paul stood as a constitutionalist with small government objectives. Cain had a bit of everything for everybody. Gingrich at the beginning was somewhat of a mystery to most. Romney from the outset was labeled by some – fairly or not -- as the establishment candidate who was least likely to effect major change in Washington.
Bachman surged in Iowa. Then she gave way to Perry and Santorum, who preached the same message but had superior resumes. When Perry imploded in his first two debates he left the pure conservative mantra to Santorum – who has never had full conservative support.
Cain had a short run of popularity, but he was soon destroyed by the liberal establishment that characteristically attacks conservative African-Americans. It is telling to notice that the scandals that plagued him as a candidate disappeared as soon as he dropped from the race.
Romney and Paul continued to poll steadily in Iowa. Gingrich surged to the top until Romney’s well-oiled political machine and Santorum’s hard work finally paid off and brought him back to earth – Santorum beat Romney by a hair in Iowa. Gingrich seemed to be through.
After Iowa, polls said that conservatives would have to choose between Romney and Santorum. After New Hampshire, Romney stood alone. Then came South Carolina where once more Gingrich, based on his performance in two debates, surged to the top. For color, Paul continued to lure libertarians and the anti-war youth.
Florida: Romney should win the state easily. Gingrich and Santorum have lost their momentum. If conservatives do not want Romney, their only chance to defeat him is to consolidate the conservative vote -- persuade Santorum to resign and support Gingrich (Gingrich would never agree to do the same). But before urging this, conservatives should be sure that what they would get is what they want. Romney may not be as bad as some think; Gingrich may have more minuses than pluses, for example:
Republicans had plenty of chances to load the primaries with their pet candidates, or to support those who came forth. But they didn’t and, so far, Romney and Gingrich seem to be the survivors. Romney might ease the nation back to its roots too slowly; Gingrich might turn Washington upside-down too drastically. These are different men with different ways.
Take your pick.