Now that Rick Santorum has dropped from the field of candidates and suspended his campaign, there’s a question that is nagging conservatives:
Since Mitt Romney has effectively a clear path to the Republican Party’s nomination for president, will he continue to “pretend” his conservatism to convince the “base”, or will he slowly retreat back to his “moderate” core? (And thereby further alienate already skeptical conservatives…)
The social conservatives and evangelicals, former backers of Santorum and some still backers of Gingrich, still look at Romney with suspicion. They will surely be alert for any signs of wavering on issues such as illegal immigration, Obamacare, taxes, Second Amendment rights and several other items where Romney, in the past, hasn’t been “principled”.
They are dismayed for good reason. History proves that a disinterested base may never become enthusiastic; it’s a big difference – voting against Obama or for Romney. We have memories of McCain, Dole, and George H. W. Bush. With inspiration and enthusiasm, you get two terms of Reagan and one of G. W. Bush (2004). “Dismay” cannot continue…
Romney will need to be cautious and settle on the right mix. If he ignores the social and cultural issues that are tearing the fabric of the country apart, and concentrates only on the economics, he’s cooked. And the country won’t survive another 1992, 1996 or 2008.
The country is more conservative than Mitt and the GOP leadership know. No matter what Mitt’s learning curve looks like, he will be the choice to unseat Obama. HE holds all the chips; he must play them well. He has to get the base out to vote FOR him, not against Obama. Enthusiasm counts.