Last night in a comments thread, some of us discussed how the standard for Mitt Romney always seems to be so much higher than for his opponents. A perfect example of this is what happened in Ohio. If Rick Santorum had pulled out a victory there, everyone would be congratulating him on his huge victory. When Romney wins, we get all sorts of people opining on how weak he is. He absolutely trounced in the delegate count last night and we're being told he had a bad night?
[Ohio Attorney General Mike] DeWine, who famously endorsed Romney and then left to join Santorum, had a point. For the Romney campaign, Super Tuesday was supposed to be the day the long, disorganized, and often painful effort by conservatives to deny the inevitability of Romney's claim to the nomination effectively ended. Instead, despite his narrow win in Ohio and victories in his home state of Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, Idaho, and Alaska, the day's results left Romney's opponents, especially Santorum, with reason to stay in the race, and Romney himself, still, after these many months, a weak frontrunner.
As the polls closed yesterday, I was willing to accept the inevitable. These post-Super Tuesday essays are not what I expected. One Romney supporter asked on Twitter:
Again I ask, what Romney positions do you disagree with?
I'm sure it's frustrating for those on board with Romney that the rest of the GOP electorate is so resistant. But if they earnestly want to understand the problem, they simply have to address what both Geraghty and York mention in their posts: Obamacare and the trust issue.
I'm going to steal this directly from The Weekly Standard's Jeffrey Anderson, because I can think of no better way to make the point. It's long, but for a reason:
Here’s what the two leading Republican presidential candidates said last night, in total, about Obamacare:
Mitt Romney (from 10:35 to 10:40):
“He [President Obama] passed Obamacare. I’ll repeal Obamacare.”
Rick Santorum (from 8:12 to 16:00):
“We have people who believe that America’s best days are behind us. They believe that it’s no longer possible for free enterprise, a free economy, and free people to be able to build strong communities and families and be able to provide for themselves and their neighbors. No, we now need an increasingly powerful federal government to do this for us. [Cries of ‘No!’]
“The reason that Karen and I ultimately decided to get into this race was because of that issue and, in particular, one issue. I’ve said it [in] almost every stump speech I’ve given. If it wasn’t for one particular issue that to me breaks the camel’s back with respect to liberty in this country — and that is the issue of Obamacare.
“What we will go to in a very short period of time — the next two years — a little less than 50 percent of the people in this country depend on some form of federal payment, some form of government benefit, to help provide for them. After Obamacare, it will not be less than 50 percent. It will be 100 percent.
“Now every single American will be looking to the federal government, not to their neighbor, not to their church, not to their business or to their employer, or to the community or non-profit organization[s] in their community, [but] will be looking always to those in charge, to those who now say to you that they are the allocator and creator of rights in America.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the beginning of the end of freedom in America. Once the government has control of your life, then they gotcha.
“That’s why we decided to step out. As you look, I mean, Karen and I [have] seven children, ages 20 — ages 20 to 3, not exactly the best time to be out running for president of the United States. We’ve given up our jobs. We’re living off our savings. Yeah, we’re makin’ a little sacrifice, for a very, very big goal — and that is replacing this president, on November [6th] of this year.
“In order to make that happen, the Republican party has to nominate somebody who can talk about the broad vision of what America is. As I talk about in every one of my speeches, I talk about how important it is that [we] remember who we are. Ronald Reagan, in his farewell address to the American people, worried about whether America would remember what made us great — that we are not a great country because we have a great and powerful government; we are a great country because we believe that rights don’t come from the government, but as…our founding document, the Declaration of Independence says, our rights come to us from our Creator.
“The government’s job and the Constitution of this country was intended to do one thing — protect those rights, so each and every one of you would have the opportunity to build their own life, to take your own path, to create a strong family, strong neighborhood, community, state, and country. That’s what made America great. We built a great country from the bottom up.
“And we need people to go up against President Obama and his vision of a top-down [model of] government control — of not just health care, but of energy, and of manufacturing, and of financial services, and who knows what else is next? But this is a president who believes that he simply is better able to do this than you are; that he will be fairer than you are with your fellow man.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is an election about fundamental liberty, and the signature piece — the signature piece of legislation that points this out, where you have economic ‘rights’ created by the government, and then the government using its heavy hand to force you to buy insurance, to force you to take policies that you don’t want, and of course to force you to take coverages that may even violate your faith convictions….
“In this race, there is only one candidate who can go up on the most important issue of the day and make the case — because I’ve never been for an individual mandate, at a state or federal level. I’ve never — I’ve never passed a statewide government-run health-care system when I was governor because, well, I wasn’t governor. But Governor Romney did.
“And now we found out this week, not only did he pass it in Massachusetts, he advocated for it to be passed in Washington, D.C. in the middle of the debate on health care.
“It’s one thing to defend a mandated, top-down, government-run health-care program that you imposed on the people of your state. It’s another thing to recommend and encourage the president of the United States to impose the same thing on the American people. And it’s another thing yet to go out and tell the American public that you didn’t do it.
“We need a person running against President Obama who is right on the issues and truthful with the American public.”
Some people are willing to put their faith in Romney. Some need much more convincing. More than six words devoid of any principle or reasoning, that is.
This is not an unfixable problem, but it is one that needs addressing soon.