Clearly, a lot of conservatives are skeptical that the formerly pro-choice, pro–gun control, pro-mandate governor is genuinely committed to conservatism. But instead of rehashing the primary campaign, conservatives should look at productive ways they can keep pressure on Romney to make sure he adheres to a limited-government agenda on key issues such as tax reform, entitlements, and health care.
Ironically, one of the most frustrating aspects of Romney’s character — a calculating political nature that has enabled him to effortlessly reverse prior statements and positions — could prove essential to conservative efforts to pressure him into doing the right thing.
Critics of Romney who argue that he’s really a liberal and boosters who claim that he’s a true conservative both err by attempting to understand Romney through an ideological prism. In reality, he’s a businessman who wants to apply his well-honed management skills to the public sector. If one is to be successful in the business world, the important thing is to satisfy customers and maximize profits.
If Romney is convinced that conservatives will enthusiastically support him no matter what, then he’ll make the calculation that he has room to migrate left during the general-election campaign and throughout a potential presidency. But if he feels uneasy about his support among conservatives, he’s much more likely to run and govern from the right.