The Massachusetts Head Fake

I know there are many on our side who are practically panting and drooling over Governor Romney’s victory speech from Tuesday night, but I would advise you all to put a lid on your enthusiasm. One speech – albeit a very good one – does not change political records nor previous statements.

Call it stubborn or call it being inept – Romney has shown, since this race began, that he’s not interested in business as usual when it comes to the GOP primary. What do I mean by this?

Well, it is claimed by the political punditry that the Campaign 101 textbook calls for the given candidate to secure his base during the primary season before moving to the center during the general campaign. Romney clearly never read the text or he threw it out the window of his campaign bus. He’s run as a moderate from the very beginning and it’s only because of the conservative media and talk radio that he’s slowly veering in our direction. His apparent “move to the right” has also been enabled by the drawn-out primary process. Despite what Senator McCain and others in the Republican establishment may say about the matter, it has been a God-send for the party and the candidates.

Romney’s posturing looks great in front of the cameras but how much of it is genuine? I’m skeptical of his “severe conservatism” and unconvinced that he would govern as a conservative if elected. I could be dead wrong and I hope I am, but does anyone really believe that a President Romney would chop the federal government down to size – at least where we feel it needs to be? Obama is entirely beatable and Romney is fully capable of securing such a defeat over the incumbent incompetent but getting our hopes up for a super-conservative Romney administration is likely a pipe-dream.

Adding to the concerns over Romney’s genuineness this week was top campaign advisor – Erich Fehrnstrom. This is what transpired on CNN following the Romney victory:

On Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien, Mitt Romney Senior Advisor Eric Fehrnstrom talks Illinois primary and Romney’s decision to step aside in 2008 election.

Fehrnstrom says, “It was a big win in a big state…. You have to wonder where his opponents feel that they can win enough delegates to overtake what is really a commanding lead in the delegate count.”

When CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien asks about Romney stepping aside for McCain in 2008 and what happens if the other candidates don’t step aside for Romney this year, he replies, “At the time, John McCain did not have the delegates he needed to clinch the nomination but he was clearly on a path to doing that. The math was very challenging for Mitt Romney. And he made the decision that at that time, the country being at war in Iraq, it was important for John McCain to begin to rally the party behind him so he could prepare himself for the fall election campaign. Mitt Romney stepped aside. Now, in Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, these are both decent, honorable men who have run good campaigns. They are good Americans. They are good Republicans. And ultimately, I’m confident they’ll make a decision that’s not only right for their party, but right for them.”

He continues, “I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch a Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.”

O’Brien questions this thinking and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein adds, “You get a second look, there’s no question about it. But it is not a complete, I think, blank slate.”

Obviously, Romney tried to walk the Fehrnstrom comments back, but this is the kind of talk that conservatives are fed up with – specifically from the Romney camp. The message he sends is this: Who cares about the Republican base? We’ve already got them in our corner thanks to Obama. Let’s concentrate on the moderates.

True, the base will rally to Romney, but thumbing your nose at conservatives is not exactly the best way to rally support and enthusiasm. Granted, the comments didn’t come directly from Romney, however, Fehrnstrom represents the campaign. He’s an extension of Romney and these types of comments are par for the course when it comes to this group.

The Fehrnstrom gaffe only provides more ammunition for Senator Santorum as he fights to stay in the race. This particular mishap and others like it will continue to drive voters in Santorum’s direction – i.e. in Louisiana. If Romney plans on wrapping up this nomination, he would do well to rein in the brazen comments of his staff as well as his own.

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