Mitt Romney is turning Ronald Reagan's big tent into a pup tent.
As we head into the last five months of the campaign, Mitt Romney is hell bent to contract his campaign coalition when he should be expanding it. ABC News reported that Marco Rubio, the young Latino senator from Florida, was not on the vice presidential short list. (Romney later told reporters Rubio was indeed being considered.) Then, an unidentified Romney official said that the campaign was not considering female VP candidates because former Alaska Gov. and 2008's GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin had "poisoned the well" for women. That gives Romney a choice among the usual suspects, older white men. This week's frontrunner is the white bread Minnesota governor, Tim Pawlenty, who is one of the few politicians in this country who makes Romney look exciting.
As far as women go, how did Sarah Palin "poison the well" for all female politicians? I would be willing to bet serious money that New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte can name at least one Supreme Court decision she disagrees with. My guess is the senator from the Granite state disagrees with a lot of Supreme Court decisions. Not the decisions of the current conservative court, of course, but she probably hates many of the decisions that the liberal Earl Warren Court rendered in the 1960s. More than half of the voters this November will be women and the last time I checked, Romney was not doing very well with them.
Romney is also doing badly with Latino voters. George W. Bush won a narrow re-election victory in 2004 when he carried 40 percent percent of the Latino vote. There are a lot more Latino voters now than there were then, and the GOP standard bearer is a lot closer to the 30 percent mark than the 40 percent standard that the former president set with Latino voters. By 2040, there will be more nonwhite Americans than white Americans. If demographics is destiny, the future is very bleak for Republicans.
Not only did Senator Rubio disappear from the Romney short list, at least according to some reports, but the GOP presidential candidate had an awful week dealing with the political fallout from the president's proposal to stop the deportation of immigrants who came to the United States when they were younger than 16.
Last week, the president dropped a grenade into Romney's foxhole. A new national Bloomberg survey indicated that Americans support the president's immigration proposal by a two-to-one margin. Romney can dither, or he can come out and either piss off the large majority of Americans who support the immigration order or he can infuriate the Tea Party-types who are up in arms over the decision. The president's decisive action has boxed Romney into a corner where he is dammed if he does and dammed if he doesn't.
Candidate Romney looked like a wuss, not a chief executive on Face the Nation last Sunday when he dithered on four questions from host Bob Schieffer on whether or not he would revoke the president's immigration order. Now that he's through the GOP primaries, the former liberal, former moderate, and current conservative is reverting back to form. Now that the former governor is preaching to independent swing voters instead of extremists, he is terrified of taking a strong position on immigration or anything else.
With the GOP nod firmly in hand, Romney would rather give up his car elevator than take a strong position on an issue. During the primaries he said he would deport undocumented residents. Now he won't say whether or not he would reverse an executive order on immigration.
The Republican candidate won't have the luxury of dithering if he becomes president. Whether you like them or not, the president made difficult decisions when he endorsed marriage equality and put an end to the deportation of immigrants who came here when they were kids. Americans would rather have a decisive president than a chief executive who is afraid of his own shadow. If the second president Bush was the "decider," Romney is the ditherer.
Mitt Romney should take a good look at the people he wants to lead. Romneyland is like Springfield, a lily white suburb in the 1950s where father knows best. America is changing but you would never know it by looking at the Republican campaign.
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