Tea Party leaders and outspoken Christian conservatives continue to express reservations about GOP presidential frontrunner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, CNN reports:
In June, FreedomWorks invited 150 Tea Party organizers to a planning session where participants were asked for their candidate of choice in the 2012 field. Only one Tea Party activist at the meeting supported Romney, [FreedomWorks president Matt] Kibbe said.
Tea Party conservatives remain outraged over Romney’s record on health care reform. In recent months, he has defended the plan he signed into law as governor of Massachusetts, in which residents are required to buy health insurance. …
Some evangelical Republicans believe they lost their front-runner when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee decided against another presidential run.
“No question Mitt Romney benefited from Huckabee not running. That left a huge vacuum,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
Perkins, who has not endorsed a candidate in the GOP field, noted Romney has some appeal with many social conservatives. But he added there are lingering questions about contradictions in Romney’s record.
From a horse-race perspective, it looks to me like Allah is really right: Romney might actually eventually need former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin or Texas Gov. Rick Perry to enter the race, just to split the Tea Party vote, presently concentrated on Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who has steadily gained ground against Romney in both Iowa and New Hampshire.
To be sure, Romney still comfortably leads in fundraising (sans a Bachmann shocker — she hasn’t yet released her fundraising numbers for the second quarter) and in the polls. Perhaps he could win the primary without much support from the Tea Party and the so-called Christian Right. But he would absolutely need that support to win the general election. By the same token, to actually win the presidency, any strictly Tea Party candidate would need the mainstream support Romney seems most likely to garner. Conventional wisdom suggests it’s more probable Romney would win the support of Tea Partiers (when the only alternative to him is Obama!) than that a Tea Party candidate would win the support of crucial independents. Of course, conventional wisdom could be wrong. Note former New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu’s warning about independents.
But from a strictly conservative perspective, Kibbe’s comments serve as a particularly helpful reminder. In the midst of all the debt and deficit discussion, the drumbeat for Obamacare repeal seems to have died down, even though repeal is still ostensibly a top GOP priority. PPACA will, of course, be a huge driver of the debt and deficit — and the nation needs a president who will not only sign repeal into law, but will ensure it remains a legislative priority. The electorate should garner more assurance on this from Romney, concentrating efforts on securing more frequent and outspoken campaign promises for repeal.