Jim Antle asks if Romney would try to win over libertarian and realist voters:
Will any of them decide to reach out to libertarians and realists? On paper, Romney is the strongest candidate. This may seem counterintuitive, given Romney’s propensity for substituting machismo for foreign-policy thought: “double Gitmo,” “no apologies,” etc.
But Romney also has a tendency to tell people what they want to hear.
Antle acknowledges later that Romney isn’t likely to be successful in this pandering. Assuming that he chooses to run again (which makes no sense), I doubt he would even try to win over these people. For one thing, he’s already burned his bridges with almost all of these people on foreign policy, and he clearly didn’t care to tell them what they wanted to hear the last two times he ran for president. That didn’t stop some realists from hoping that Romney didn’t mean anything he said during the campaign, but I still think they were kidding themselves. It would have been a much smarter thing politically for Romney if he had toned down his hawkish rhetoric in the general election, but he seemed convinced invoking “American exceptionalism” and demanding more confrontational “leadership” would be popular. Insofar as he thinks that recent events have proved that he was right on foreign policy (hint: they haven’t), Antle agrees that he will see no reason to present himself as less of a hawk the next time.
It is always a vain effort to try to figure out what Romney “really” believes on any subject, but foreign policy is the only area where he has been fairly consistent. Unlike his many other changed positions, Romney’s foreign policy views have been reliably, embarrassingly bellicose for as long as he has had said anything about these issues. He denounced then-President Khatami during his 2005 visit to Harvard in his first foray into these issues, and he has been predictably hostile to any and all attempts at engagement with Iran and Russia for a decade. That’s a ten-year period in which he has chosen to pander to his party’s hard-liners as often as possible, and during much of that time he went out of his way to bash the views of anyone that didn’t share his devotion to “American exceptionalism” and omni-directional belligerence. Even if Romney were now inclined to change scripts and start pandering to the people whose views he repeatedly derided for years, those voters would have to be the easiest marks in the world to fall for it.