Mitt Romney’s TEA Problem

Bookmark and Share A mixed message came out of the recent straw poll of New Hampshire Republican Party power players. While Romney won the poll and defeated a field of more than 20 names by surpassing his closest rival by as much as 24%, the same people who voted in that poll also elected a TEA Party candidate as the Chairman of the New Hampshire G.O.P.. The election of TEA Party backed Jack Kimball over the establishment candidate was a clear signal that conservative outsiders were increasing their influence and beginning to dominate over moderate political insiders.

The initial wins of Romney in the straw poll and Jack Kimball in the election for Party chair, may on the surface seem related and an indication that the former Governor of Massachusetts is fairing well among TEA Party voters. However a closer look reveals that only a bit more than half of those who voted for Kimball in the election for Chairman, voted in the straw poll. And of those with TEA Party sentiments, their vote was divided between a number of favorites, including second place finisher Ron Paul, fourth place finisher Sarah Palin, followed by Michelle Bachmann-5th place, Jim DeMInt-6th place, Herman Cain-7th place, and arguably Gary Johnson-16th place. Their combined total percentage was one point shy of Mitt Romneys 35% share of the vote.

This begs the question, if the TEA Party got behind one candidate, could they pick the winner of the New Hampshire presidential primary, just as they did the chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Party?

This is a question which Mitt Romney must look at closely. Up to now, Romney has seemingly had a bad taste for TEA Party politics.

The Boston Globe reports that Mitt Romney has kept Tea Party activists at arms length. And while some like Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum and even Haley Barbour seem to be going out of their way to court influential TEA Party leaders, the chairman of New Hampshires TEA Party influenced Republican Liberty Caucus, Andrew Hemingway, claims Romney for the most part is inaccessible,” and adds. Pawlenty, I could call him right now and say, Let’s have coffee.’ ”

An advisor to Romney suggested that Romneys issues are the TEA Partys issues when told the Boston Globes Matt Viser I would hope the kind of issues the Tea Party cares about are issues he can address and will address,”.

The answer is a sensible one but it does not address the politics behind the politics. Part of that game is perception. In fact politics is all about perception and currently, in this atmosphere of pro anti-establishment sentiments, Mitt Romney is rapidly being perceived as an establishment candidate, a position that will not be to his benefit in the long run.

By all rights, Mitt Romney should be a clear frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. In many aspects he is, but only by the most tentative of definitions. Part of the reason for that is distrust among conservatives who are not convinced that his right-to-life conversion from his pro-choice stance is genuine and another part is widespread dissatisfaction with the fact that as Governor of Massachusetts, Romney created a state version of Obamacare before Obamacare ever came to fruition. This has Romney entering the race for the Republican nomination as a flip-flopping, big government Republican. Is that an accurate description? In truth, it isnt. But unless Mitt Romney embraces the strongest elements of the thriving, decisive, small government TEA Party wing of the G.O.P., he will not have a snowballs chance in hell of changing that perception.

Romney could be trying to keep the TEA Party at arms length because he fears that being linked too closely to them will hurt his chances in the general election. For that reason he could be wanting to distinguish himself from others like Sarah Palin, who risk being perceived as too extreme. Rudy Giuliani recently revealed that as his own strategy in a potential bid for the G.O.P. nomination. Romney could also be hoping that just as was the case in the New Hampshire straw poll, maybe a crowded field of TEA Party favorites like Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, and others, could split the TEA movement vote and allow him to walk right up the middle.

If that is his strategy, he needs to plot a new one.

He should take a lesson from John McCains failed campaign and realize that the same people whoRomney is keeping at a distance, are the same people who were not thrilled by John McCain as our nominee and the same people who sat on their hands in the general election. He should also realize that for many Republicans, Sarah Palin was the only thing that energized McCains candidacy. In other words, Romney can not become President without embracing the TEA movement and without the TEA movement embracing him.

It’s time to talk TEA Mitt. You may not want to start campaigning too early, but you have a lot of repairs to make before you let the train leave the station and now is as good a time as any to start fixing them.

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10 Responses

  1. Don’t you find it just a little embarrassing to be reporting a story showing Ron Paul taking second in a poll of GOP committee members when you took him off your banner entirely for some inexplicable reason?

    • thats ok. im sure when paul announces, then his picture will be put back up. i would like to know who the other half of the people are in the banner though.

  2. Not in the least. My work and my opinions do not embarrass me. That is why I have created an entire site for the purpose of articulating my opinion and the opinions of others. But the fact that Ron Paul was not included in the banner is merely a matter of space. If I had a bigger banner, he may very well have apeared in it along with any number of the more than 15 other possible candidates who are not featured. While I respect Rep. Paul, I am not exactly one of his groupies and apparently neither were 89% of the people who voted in the straw poll that you speak of.

    Furthermore, the banner is not what links to Rep. Paul, provides his bio, links and newsfeeds. It is a symbol of a site that I have created and which you apparently monitor with vigillance. Would you feel better if I placed Dr. Paul’s picture in the banner and took down his page and neglected to mention him at all? This is the second time you have addressed the issue of Ron Paul’s picture. The first time it wasn’t big enough for you. the second time, it wasn’t clear enough for you. Now your feathers are ruffled because it is not included in the banner. Obviously the fact that others are not also pictured in the banner, does not bother you so it is quite apparent to me that, short of creating a shrine-like image of Dr. Paul and blotting out the impressions of all other candidates, nothing will please you.

    Perhaps you should use your time and Ron Paul message board to constructively try to advance the Ron Paul message and cause rather than be consumed by having his image emblazoned on anything and everything that has to do with the White House.

    • It’s your site. You can put anyone up you want. But he was on, and you took him off. Which seems weird when he generally polls 5th or higher and others on your banner register barely if at all.

      But again, it is your site.

    • You fool. You have Marco Rubio up there and he is, in no way, shape or form, running for President.

      Yet you leave out Ron Paul.

      An imbecile is you.

  3. Ron Paul’s picture should be up there, its not a huge deal but it’s funny that he’s the one guy you left off. He’s one of the biggest names in the upcoming election and has the biggest support

    • I’ll make you all a deal. Since Ron Paul has the “biggest support”, it should be no problem for you to have 1,500 different names and email addresses to petition White House 2012 to redisign its banner around Ron Paul’s face, by Midnight, Tuesday, January 25th. If Ron Paul’s picture is the key to the 2012 election and the survival of freedom that you all seemingly make it ti be, such a small effort should be no problem.

  4. I like Ron Paul – his commitment to small government, freedom and the Constitution is inspiring. I dont think hes really interested in running again. But its good to see support like this in New Hampshire.

    • I truly appreciate Ron Paul’s opposition to over regulation, social engineering and taxing and spending and I hope he continues to be avoice that pulls the G.O.P. in his direction on those issues. I too am not quite sure if he is interested in another run and I am not sure what he would or could do differently to broaden his appeal in a way that would produce better electoral success for him than he has seen in past national contests. Either way, I welcome his entry in to the race and appreciate the role he would play in it.

  5. […] many with what seemed to be his keeping the TEA Partyat arm’s length. In a post entitled “Romney’s TEA Problem“, Icriticized him for such bad judgement. But it would seem that he is at least ready to […]

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