Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why Romney Just Can't (Afford to) Quit Trump

Yesterday, we were reminded of the reasons why Mitt Romney is afraid to campaign here in Nevada. Today, Jon Ralston reminds us of another one.

It’s one thing to boast about how smart and successful and rich he is — Trump does that every day. But to try to tap into the worst instincts of some folks in the GOP base — and, I fear, too many Democrats and independents, too — with his hardly veiled racism consigns Trump to a category of unconscionable scoundrels and power-hungry demagogues who must be denounced, scorned and vilified.

Hello, darkness, my old Mitt.

It is this man who hosted the presumptive GOP nominee Tuesday evening in Las Vegas, who Mitt Romney tries to slough off as just like any other supporter (who hosts a $2 million fundraiser) who might have differing views (as if this is about a VAT or sanctions against Syria). To his credit, Romney was honest about what this is all about when asked by the national media over the holiday weekend, telling them, “I need to get 50.1 percent or more, and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.”

Forget his Electoral College miscue — just ask George W. Bush about needing 50.1 percent or more to become president. Romney translated here is simple: “I am willing to grovel before this odious man because I need to play the politics of addition, even if that means subtracting my self-respect.”

Instead, so far at least (I write this before the Romney-Trump-Newt event Tuesday), Romney has refused to denounce Trump and simply repeated his contention that he believes Obama was born in the United States. Does anyone —even ardent Romney backers not drinking the Trump birther Kool-Aid — think that is enough?

Yep, Mitt Romney went groveling to "The Donald" (Trump). Oh yes, that's right, Mitt Romney still <3 Donald Trump!

But why, oh why, would Mittens embarrass himself like this? Ralston just doesn't understand... But TPM just might.

Romney has been loathe to pick fights with the right as he continues to consolidate support from conservatives suspicious of his late-life conversion to their cause. He never condemned Rush Limbaugh for his Sandra Fluke screed. After supporter Ted Nugent’s violent rhetoric prompted concern from the Secret Service, the Romney campaign mostly kept quiet except for a general plea for civility across party lines. The same month, Romney also refused to go after far-right social conservatives even as they hounded openly gay spokesman Ric Grenell until he resigned his position with the campaign.

In the case of Trump, there are additional considerations for Romney. For one thing, Trump is helping the campaign raise millions of dollars and potentially committing even more of his own personal fortune to the election thanks to post-Citizens United campaign finance laws.

But more importantly, Trump could be infinitely more dangerous as a spurned Romney supporter than as a troublesome surrogate. Trump may be the butt of cable news jokes, but polls have consistently shown him to be the most dangerous potential third-party candidate, with a large base of sympathizers on the right. Even if he doesn’t run, the prospect of an angry Trump on cable news blasting the Republican nominee as a traitor to the cause is an indignity that Romney wants to avoid.

Why, of course! Mittens can't afford to lose "The Donald" because if His Trumpness decides to "go rogue" and run for President himself as an Independent candidate, Romney may bleed teabagger support.

So that's what Mitt Romney means by focusing on attaining 50.1%. If Donald Trump leaves him, many more "tea partiers" may leave as well. And if that happens and the radical right becomes (even more) fractured (than it already is), then Mittens' political career is definitely over for good. And of course, that especially hurts poor lil' rich guy Willard because he's been running for President for nearly a decade!

So this is why Romney will continue to embrace Trump, even when sage pundits like Ralston are giving him good advice to do otherwise. If Romney loses the radical "tea party" right (again), then it's really all over for his political career. And if he has to ultimately go down, he might as well go down in flaming batshit crazy glory and land himself the eternal adoration of the Fox "News"/hate radio crowd.

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