Mitt Romney has a real problem, and despite denials, it’s clear that he has a real problem with conservatives. It’s so bad that he met with a number of conservative leaders at the CPAC conference in Washington DC on Thursday, for a meeting in the presidential suite of the Marriott Wardman Park where the CPAC is holding its annual conference. According to CNN’s report, this meeting included thirty influential Republicans. With a private list of attendees, one can see why Romney would keep it quiet, and this makes it clear that despite all the denials of Romney and his campaign, they understand that they’re in serious trouble with conservatives, and this may be the start of his attempt to bring reluctant conservatives along.
I doubt this will be all that successful, because while he may appeal to so-called “conservative leaders,” I doubt how influential they will be if they suddenly appear before conservative audiences pushing Mitt Romney. For any of those who participated, this is a danger too, because it’s just as likely in this volatile election cycle that conservative grass-roots activists will merely see such moves as evidence that the alleged “conservative leader” has sold out to the establishment, and the secret truth is that they will be right.
I’m having a good deal of difficulty viewing Ann Coulter in anything but a negative light since she’s essentially jumped the shark with respect to the GOP field, and also in her views of late on such issues as Romneycare. Conservative activists are on the look-out for evidence of precisely this kind of shift, and even if it is not so bombastic as Coulter’s has been, it will nevertheless be noticed by the party’s conservative base. The base is clearly sick of the negative attacks, and also the way in which the establishment has been actively shoving Romney down their throats, so if they persist in this practice and now co-opt other conservatives in an attempt to sway the base, I can see the wheels coming off in a hurry.
If the head of the NRA or other representatives of that organization now come out and make pro-Romney statements forgiving for his earlier anti-second amendment positions, that organization could well suffer because most conservatives now know they can simply pack up and move to a different organization(like Gun Owners of America) that holds the same positions, only more staunchly, but do not get into bed with politicians who have sold them out previously. While Romney is scheduled to speak Friday, so is Ann Coulter, and it remains to be seen as to how the latter, particularly, will be welcomed by the crowd. Coulter may catch a little heat. If so, she deserves it.
One of the reasons this was kept quiet is because it is precisely the sort of acknowledgment of the Romney problem with conservatives he and his campaign have been denying all along. If this is seen widely for what it is, a blatant attempt to ingratiate himself with high profile conservative leaders, it will be a signal in part about Romney’s desperation. The longer this race goes on, the harder it is going to be for Romney to sew up the nomination in advance of the convention, and he had hoped to be further along on less money than he is at present. He’s spending money like water, and it’s going to take a toll on his opponents, but the problem is that no matter what he does, the nagging facts about his less than stellar history as a conservative probably means he’s going to fight this to the bitter end. It’s a yoke he has earned, and he’s not likely to cast it off easily.