Romney's Best Bet: Team With DeMint

Conservative activist senator would shore up Romney's right.

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As Mitt Romney's rollout in New Hampshire today of his bid for the 2012 GOP nomination hit several speed bumps with the words "Sarah Palin" seemingly painted on them, talk in Washington turned to who could help him with conservatives if he eventually won the nomination this time and the leading pick was Mr. Tea Party, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint.

"It would not be surprising to me to see Mitt Romney" pick DeMint, says Villanova University Professor Lara Brown, who has developed a formula to determine how politicians win the presidency in her book, Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants.

Brown says that DeMint would help Romney with skeptical conservatives, especially those who don't like the healthcare plan he installed in Massachusetts as governor, a topic Palin flicked him on today and the Democratic National Committee had fun with. "He would need to bring over that base he will have a difficult time getting. Like Clinton who reached for Gore, Romney would want someone that has the inside Washington experience," says Brown. [See a slide show of GOP 2012 contenders.]

It wouldn't be that unlikely of a combination, however, since DeMint endorsed Romney in 2008 and hasn't attacked Romney over his healthcare plan.

DeMint himself, however, is considering a run for the presidency, and that has Tea Party members and conservatives buzzing. "DeMint would electrify base and the Tea Party," said a conservative activist. "If he enters the race and wins, there will be a huge sweep of conservatives into all levels of government."

According to associates, he is praying over the issue of entering the race. Several conservatives, evangelical and Tea Party leaders have asked him to consider the race. One ally said that he would unite social conservatives and economic conservatives and the Tea Party. [Vote now: Who is your pick for the 2012 GOP nomination?]

Professor Brown, however, says he has two strikes against him. First, senators typically don't do well in presidential races, especially on the GOP side. Second, he's not nationally known, though he probably has the most extensive email and social media outreach of any member of Congress.

Her choice is Palin followed by Romney for the nomination. Brown says that Palin benefits from her networks around the country with conservatives and an ability to raise money fast. [See 5 reasons Palin will the 2012 GOP nod, and 5 reasons she won't.]

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