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Desperate Romney

Mitt Romney created a stir over the weekend with his assertion that he speaks for “the Republican wing of the Republican Party.” ~Dan Balz

The magnificent dancing fraud is at it again with more reinventions of himself.  In some ways, it imitates Dean’s own repositioning from reasonably competent centrist Northeastern governor to fire-breathing darling of the netroots, except that Romney is not receiving anything like the enthusiastic response from activists that Dean had.  What is more worrisome for Romney is that he is echoing a phrase that was given some currency earlier this year by the failed presidential candidate and former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, which shows just how desperate Romney has become.  An insurgent candidate speaks of representing a wing of the party, because he has to show that he is a more pure and idealistic and less accommodating alternative to the “safe” or establishment choices.  Insurgent candidacies thrive on energy and the promise of issuing a stiff, sharp kick to the party leadership that has hitherto failed the core constituents.  Meanwhile, a confident leading candidate speaks of representing the entire party.  Romney has resorted to this kind of talk (which is all the less credible coming from him) because he feels the walls closing in around him.  He is treated by the media and pundits as a so-called first-tier candidate, and he has significant establishment support inside Washington, but he is gaining no traction nationally–hence the desperation gambit of claiming the high ground of true Republicanism.   

Gilmore’s phrasing was obviously meant to mimic Dean’s insurgent rhetoric from 2003-04 that he used to set him apart from those Democrats who had effectively been on the GOP’s side, especially when it came to the war.  Gilmore also pioneered the “Rudy McRomney” name and conjured in the minds of many conservatives a three-headed monster, so it is especially amusing that Romney has now adopted Gilmore’s claim to represent true Republicanism.  As has been said in a different, but related context, it’s good if the town whore repents, but no one expects the penitent to preach the sermon. 

Update: Dave Weigel has more.

Chris Orr has a Highlander-inspired response to the story.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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