How conservative was Mitt Romney as governor of Massachusetts?
“Severely conservative,” he said on Friday in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, a crowd very receptive to that particular strain of ideology.
“I know conservatism because I have lived conservatism,” Romney said.
Knowledge and experience aren’t Romney’s problems at the moment. His problem, among the CPACers and like-minded voters, is proving that conservatism. In his speech, he did not look to dispel concerns about his Massachusetts health care plan, instead opting not to mention it.
He referred to beating President Obama in November as “the easy part.” For Romney, though, every time he works to placate the doubts of those on the right, he’s costing himself support from the middle, where November elections are decided.
Romney — still ahead in national polls, leading in the next three states, and comfortably leading the cash race — is still likely to reach November. How “severely” he’ll have to dance to the right to get there means winning them may, in fact, not be easy.
— Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Romney Pitches Conservatism to Conservatives
Mitt Romney worked today to convince the conservative CPAC summit that he's sufficiently conservative, an argument that's found an insufficient number of buyers in some states. "My family, my faith, my businesses — I know conservatism because I have lived conservatism," Romney said. He told the crowd he had been "severely conservative."
CPAC Buzz Reflects Disenchantment with GOP Field
Nine months out from Election Day, the voters at the Conservative Political Action Conference — many of whom are still searching for a standard-bearer — are increasingly worried that a protracted battle for the nomination will damage the GOP. Here’s four things you need to know about the conference so far.
Santorum to CPAC: We Can’t Spend Our Way to Victory
Rick Santorum told an appreciative conservative audience on Friday that it must draw sharp distinctions with President Obama if the GOP is to prevail this fall. “We are not going to win with money,” he said. “We are going to win with contrast.” With the reaction he's getting at CPAC, RedState's Erick Erickson says he's now the front-runner.
Is Romney’s Campaign the Death Star?
Romney met with tea party and evangelical leaders to discuss policy and electoral strategy at CPAC on Thursday, but several people weren’t interested — which shows that some conservatives are still fantasizing about a Republican candidate that can beat Romney.
CPAC Haunted by Ghosts of Candidates Past
The opening day of CPAC was devoted to failed presidential candidates of the not-quite-distant-enough past — including Minnesota's Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who tested the audience's capacity for instant nostalgia with rueful jokes about their defunct campaigns.
Winning Without Money
Santorum has won four primary and caucus states without spending the big bucks Romney can afford. National Journal’s Reid Wilson weighs in on how Santorum pulled off his wins with such limited funds. Meanwhile, Romney reportedly pulled in $1.3 million at a fundraiser last night.
Romney in His Comfort Zone in Technology Speech
Appearing at home in front of an audience of technology executives and workers, Romney on Friday extolled the virtues of innovation, limited regulation and low taxes to spur the U.S. economy.
Santorum Defends Critique of Pentagon Shift
Santorum on Friday defended his earlier comments questioning a new Pentagon move to let women fill thousands of frontline jobs, pointing out that the Israeli army also has restrictions on women serving in combat roles.
Santorum Vows Not to Go Negative
Rick Santorum will not go negative with personal attacks in the presidential race, he said on Friday on NBC’s Today, as he attempted to draw a contrast between his campaign and those of rivals Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
Super PAC? What Super PAC?
Santorum's already got this whole surging candidate thing figured out, especially the part where he denies all knowledge of the super PAC underwritten by Foster Friess and any involvement in its efforts to support his run. He did, however, acknowledge his 20-year friendship with Friess.
Santorum Says He's Most Consistent Social Conservative
In Oklahoma, Santorum found himself in front of a crowd of 4,000 at Oral Roberts University, trying to distance himself from the rest of the field in terms of his social viewpoints.
Mitt Plus Mustache
Romney keeps delivering comedic gold: David Letterman on Thursday presented a segment called, "Mitt Plus Mustache," while Jay Leno continued to rail against Romney's upset in primary contests this week.
PRESIDENTIAL RACE NEWS SUMMARY
Santorum, Romney to Face Off in High-Stakes Appeal to GOP Faithful
[The Hill, 2/9/12] The two candidates appear in the same venue on Friday to compete for the support of the same cluster of die-hard conservatives, who have amassed for CPAC.
Marco Rubio Rouses CPAC Crowd
[Roll Call, 2/9/12] The GOP darling and junior senator from Florida hammered Obama on Thursday in a speech to CPAC attendees that appeared to be equal parts pep talk to the conservative movement and an audition for the vice presidency.
Romney Follows Obama’s Lead on Super PACs
[Wall Street Journal, 2/10/12] The Romney camp’s new campaign rules now permit campaign officials and surrogates to help raise money for the pro-Romney group Restore Our Future, a move that follows a similar one by President Obama on Monday.
Column: Ron Paul Poised to Possibly Prevail
[Bangor Daily News, 2/9/2012] A Maine native and Republican political strategist argues that Paul’s independent streak appeals to the voters of Vacationland. He might surprise a suddenly weak-looking Romney and take the 24 delegates at stake in the caucuses that end on Saturday.
After Wins, Santorum Targets Romney's Native State
[Washington Examiner, 2/9/2012] After raising over $2 million since Tuesday, Santorum is looking to make a strong showing on Romney’s home turf of Michigan, reports Byron York. In 2008, Romney's win in Michigan was not a blowout, and Santorum’s blue-collar, pro-manufacturing message could play well in the Rust Belt.
Carville: GOP’s Real Problem Is Mitt
[CNN, 2/10/12] The Democratic strategist says the GOP’s problem is “the Mittster” – and it’s a big one. “He can’t seem to go 72 hours without blowing himself up again,” Carville writes.
Bachmann at CPAC: History Through a Partisan Lense
[Washington Post, 2/10/12] Bachmann slammed Obama’s foreign policy on Thursday in a speech at CPAC, focusing particularly on Israel and the Middle East. Unfortunately, some facts got lost along the way.
Foreign Donations a Risk in Super PAC Landscape
[Associated Press, 2/10/12] So far, the money pouring into the presidential election from outside groups appears to be strictly American, but U.S. officials and tax-law experts warn the growth of super PACs has made conditions ripe for illegal foreign donations.
Column: Super PACs Versus Social Media
[Politico, 2/9/12] Campaign teams, political insiders and the media have focused on super PACs as the compelling new dynamic of 2012. But as November looms, social media may prove to be a powerful counterweight to these outside groups.
Santorum or Gingrich? Which Is the Last Best Hope for Conservatives
[Slate, 2/9/2012] John Dickerson argues that Santorum’s triple victories this week may be the start of conservatives “rallying toward a single candidate.” If so, it would be best for Gingrich to take his own advice and drop out of the race to let a Romney alternative emerge.
Paul, Obama Collect Most Military Donations
[Washington Times, 2/9/12] He’s railed against the U.S. acting as the “world’s police,” so it may come as a bit of a surprise that of all the presidential candidates, Ron Paul is by far getting the most campaign donations from members of the military. Paul is the only remaining candidate with a service record. Obama comes in second, slightly behind Paul.
Romney’s Presidential Campaign Stuck in Lukewarm
[Washington Post, 2/9/12] Even before Santorum’s surprising trifecta on Tuesday, Republicans were expressing concerns about Romney’s performance, which has not improved over nearly six weeks since the state caucuses and primaries began.
Low Turnout and the Big Tune-Out
[Wall Street Journal, 2/9/12] Turnout in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri this week were all down; Iowa and New Hampshire were flat; and Florida was down almost 15 percent. Do these numbers reflect the increasing negativity of the campaign, widespread dissatisfaction with the field, or something else?
Sarah Palin Set to Reemerge at CPAC
[RealClearPolitics, 2/10/12] Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will give CPAC’s Saturday keynote address, fueling speculation over whether she will unequivocally endorse a candidate (she’s acted as a quasi-surrogate for Gingrich lately). This will be her first public address outside of Alaska in months, and will provide a litmus test for what remains of her national influence.