The Economist: Where it went wrong for Mitt Romney””and right for John McCain

What went wrong? After all, Mr Romney was perhaps the only candidate who took positions pleasing all the factions of the conservative base. For security types, he promised to stay in Iraq and said that he would double the size of the prison at Guantánamo Bay. For economic conservatives, he talked of tax cuts and touted his success as a businessman (in contrast to his chief rival, John McCain). And he told social conservatives that he was against gay marriage and abortion. What was the “Reagan coalition” not to like about the man?

First was his Mormonism. Most evangelical Christians in the social-conservative base feel that Mormonism is not Christian””some even think of it as a cult. Mr Romney tried (but failed) to pacify them with a speech on faith, saying that “Jesus Christ is the son of God and the saviour of mankind”. He tripped up early in Iowa, the first caucus. He campaigned heavily and far outspent his rivals, but evangelicals instead plumped for a man they felt to be the real item: Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher. Having stumbled in Iowa, Mr Romney’s candidacy looked wobbly. He soon lost New Hampshire to Mr McCain.

He did manage to win a few primaries, for example in Michigan and Nevada. But the party would not rally to him. Some were troubled by his perceived recent rebirth to social conservatism. As the governor of Massachusetts he had been gay-friendly and pro-choice. His newfound opposition to gay marriage and abortion seemed shallow. And this seemed to reflect a more general tendency to go with the political wind. Republicans like their leaders to be steadfast. So social conservatives stuck with Mr Huckabee, who won a clutch of southern states on “Super Tuesday”. Moderate conservatives and independents joined the reinvigorated Mr McCain.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Mormons, Other Faiths, US Presidential Election 2008

4 comments on “The Economist: Where it went wrong for Mitt Romney””and right for John McCain

  1. Charley says:

    If he’d been a Methodist instead of a Mormon his wife would be looking at drape swatches for the west wing.

    Yep, it mattered that much.

  2. carl says:

    He is a Republican who got elected governor of Massachusetts. How conservative can he really be? Yet now he claims to be a born-again conservative. That tells me he is either a chameleon or a liar. Which option is better? I didn’t believe anything he said, and presumed he would ‘forget’ all his conservative pronouncements once the primaries were over. I presumed he would govern substantially to the left. That was Romney’s problem. It wasn’t Mormonism. It was duplicity.


  3. Words Matter says:

    What carl said. If Mormonism were the primary factor, you have to explain people like James Dobson. He reminded me of George Bush the First, who was pro-choice before 1980 and after 1992. The Supreme Court is a huge factor in this election and I don’t trust Romney with it. I’m not thrilled with McCain, but I believe McCain more than I believed Romney. OTOH, I wonder if getting out this early paves the way for a vice-presidential slot.

    Actually, I like Huckabee a lot, but then I don’t believe in the income tax, at least a graduated income tax, so I would. It’s too bad he can’t broaden out from a regional and evangelical base to a wider audience. He would also make a good VP, but he’s too much like McCain on some of the conservative hot buttons.

  4. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    Ditto on Carl’s comments. Thanks Carl. You saved me a lot of typing. 😉