Sen. Jim DeMint recently said that he does not want Ron Paul to drop out of the race yet, at least not “until whoever the front-runner is is collecting some of the ideas he’s talking about.” With Mitt Romney as the current frontrunner, it is hard to see which of Ron Paul’s ideas could be successfully implemented in a Romney administration.
The problem with Mitt Romney is that most conservatives do not believe him to be an authentic conservative. An exit poll of this week’s New Hampshire primary showed that those who voted think that Romney is the most likely to beat Obama, but not the most conservative. Of those who voted for Romney, the quality that mattered most was “Can defeat Barack Obama”(63%), with the quality that mattered least being “Is a true conservative” (13%). After years of the Tea Party movement, many conservatives are disappointed that the frontrunner for the Republican nomination is a moderate big government advocate, who as one recent debated showed, is unclear on the basics of constitutional law.
Mitt Romney will be incapable of standing as a conservative as the Republican nominee. His support of economic stimulus and the uncanny similarities between RomneyCare and ObamaCare make any serious opposition to two of the most contentious issues of Obama’s presidency open to charges of hypocrisy and incoherence. Even on foreign policy, an area where Romney has accused Obama of “appeasement”, he cannot take a conservative stand against Obama. The fact is that Obama already has good neoconservative credentials, having increased troop numbers in Afghanistan, taken military action in Libya, and assassinated Osama Bin Laden. The only conservative who would have any credibility debating Obama on foreign policy is Ron Paul, whose support in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary seem to indicate that the Republican party is not as interventionist and neoconservative as it once was. Yet Mitt Romney is too far along in the nomination process to undergo a serious foreign policy re-think.
Although I, like Sen. DeMint, would like the eventual Republican nominee to take Ron Paul’s ideas more seriously, the unfortunate reality is that Mitt Romney is too moderate for any of Ron Paul’s policy recommendations. It is unlikely that Mitt Romney will begin to talk more about the Federal Reserve, seriously reforming welfare, slashing subsidies and protectionist tariffs, and seriously cutting government spending.
If Mitt Romney does become the GOP’s nominee, it will have nothing to do with his conservative credentials, but his electability. After years in which conservatives have fought and spoken out against intrusive government it is a shame that the seemingly inevitable Republican nominee will deliver only more of the same.