Mitt Romney’s speech (pdf) before the Values Voter Summit yesterday spells out his argument against the reelection of President Obama. He makes a grotesquely unfair argument that makes no acknowledgment of any blame the Republican Party has for the economic conditions facing the country. But it’s a frighteningly strong argument, nonetheless. He made a good speech that was a preview of the general campaign. Then he won the support of four percent of the conferees in their Straw Poll. Ron Paul won the Straw Poll, followed by Herman Cain. Rick Perry came in a weak third, with just 8% support.
Romney didn’t fail to pander. He promised to do all he can to overturn Roe v. Wade, to stop all funding to Planned Parenthood, and to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. He also promised to grant a waiver to all 50 states so that they don’t have to comply with the Affordable Care Act. He promised to end every “job-killing” regulation in the Dodd-Frank bill. And he basically said we will “Drill, Baby, Drill.” The only base he failed to cover was the defunding of public broadcasting.
He said all these things and then less than one in twenty of the people who had listened to him lent him their support. Meanwhile, Rick Perry, who should be a natural fit for this audience of evangelicals, fared little better. His problem is immigration. These “values voters” really hate Latinos. It’s interesting that border-state Republicans like Perry and Sen. John McCain are the most sensible about immigration policy. But even the hint of reasonableness is a major liability for a Republican candidate these days.
When Rick Perry is too moderate, your party is unhinged. But the larger problem is that we can’t fix our problems in this country because anyone who will acknowledge reality is shunned by the right. Mitt Romney may very well be the Republican nominee simply because no one else is plausible. And he might try to move the Republican Party back a few steps towards the real world. But he’s already promised to govern as a wing-nut, and he’ll have no choice but to staff up his administration with wing-nuts. There is no space left on the right for a moderate.