Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Brokered Convention? Only In Our Dreams, Endorsing Mitt Romney

The Fantasies of Political Wonks
In what can only be described as an unstable race for the Republican nomination this year, we have seen our share of twists and turns.  New leaders seem to emerge every week as the "anybody but Romney" crowd, a collection of social conservatives mad at has prior flip-flops and Tea Party activists, who are livid that a man whose health care plan was the model for Obamacare would even be considered, gyrate from candidate to candidate, looking for their perfect match.

All this unrest has caused a growing number of political observers to questions whether the GOP may be headed for a brokered convention, that is a convention that would start with no candidate having the majority of the delegates.  New rules requiring early primary states to award delegates proportionally rather than winner take all contribute to this theory.  George Will, long an advocate for alternative choices to the existing field has written a full column proclaiming the possibility.

It is an admittedly tantalizing thought for a political observer - the notion of a political convention that is not a carefully put together piece of public relations, as all of them have been for almost 50 years, but rather a true meeting of party members to figure out what the heck they are going to do.  And the unpredictability would be fascinating - a winner could emerge out of the current field or an entirely new face could ultimately get the nod.

The only problem is that it simply isn't going to happen.  In order for a brokered convention to take place, you need at least three strong candidates that last most of the primary race.  If you have two, somebody wins a majority and gets the nomination - if you need proof of this, look no further than 2008 where two strong candidates for the Democratic nomination battled to the bitter end but did not produce a brokered convention.

Who would those 3 candidates be?  Clearly Mitt Romney will be one of them.  Newt Gingrich might be a candidate, but only if he wins Iowa, a situation that looks increasingly unlikely.  His supporters are likely to abandon en mass if he has a poor showing in the first two states.  Rick Perry?  It's possible if he pulls off a miracle in Iowa.  He's the best funded of the "not Mitt's" and well organized.  But he and Gingrich would be able to survive if they are both in the race, they will have to consolidate to one.   Jon Huntsman?  Can't break out of single digits.  Michelle Bachmann?  Been there, tried that, back down to 10% or so.  Rick Santorum?  Has never been above 6%.  Ron Paul?  He can raise money and fight to the end, but will he be a credible candidate garnering a lot of delegates?  Maybe, but I have to imagine that other than his core supporters, sooner or later the GOP crowd will realize how much of a disaster he'd be as the actual nominee and shy away.

So it appears likely to be Romney vs. somebody, that somebody being whoever can consolidate most of the opposition.  A three-way race coming out of the first 4 races that could lead to a brokered convention seems highly unlikely. 

Mitt Romney for the GOP Nomination
For whatever it's worth, I have decided to support Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination.  He is not the ideal Presidential candidate.  The criticisms of his flip-flops are utterly fair, as he has been all over the map on a whole host of social and economic issues.  But when I consider the alternatives, I think he is by far the best candidate, by virtue of his public and private sector experience, his strong leadership in a divided Massachusetts and the relatively low risk he would pose on foreign affairs.  Consider the alternatives:

Newt Gingrich - a good idea guy but a horrible leader.  Heck, nobody in Congress when Newt was leading it wants him and he was run out of town.  Also a caustic, arrogant man would make a horrible GOP candidate in the general.

Rick Perry - sorry, your IQ has to be higher to ride the ride.  Nice story in Texas, but he has been an utter disaster as a candidate.  Pass.

Michelle Bachmann - aside from her highly radical views, she has demonstrated zero leadership capability in the house and I'd be scared to death if she made it to the White House.

Ron Paul - I respect the consistency of his conservative philosophy, but once you get over enjoying the things he's been right about (The Fed, Iraq, etc.) you realize that he is quite a radical.  He would completely remove us from the world stage and cut even the most basic government programs. 

Rick Santorum - the champion of right-wing social engineering is on my list of least-favorites.  He has shown well in the debates, but his views would take us back 30 years of social progress.

Jon Huntsman - I thought very seriously about throwing my support behind Huntsman, but he is too far gone to have a chance.  If I got to individual pick the nominee, the former Utah Governor, former Ambassador to China and politically moderate Huntsman would be my guy.  But he can't win.  And in the choice between Romney and the other viable alternatives, I pick Romney every time.

Only a couple of weeks until the actual votes start getting cast!

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