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Romney Suspends Campaign, McCain Seen as a Sure Winner:

The AP reports:

John McCain effectively sealed the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday as chief rival Mitt Romney suspended his faltering presidential campaign.

"If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror," Romney will say at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington....

Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.

UPDATE: I should note that I think Romney's "aiding a surrender to terror" line is quite over-the-top; whatever Clinton's and Obama's possible faults may be, they surely aren't planning to "surrender to terror" or do anything close. (Even promptly withdrawing troops from Iraq, something I don't agree with, can't be fairly described as that.) I didn't focus on that sentence when I first posted it -- I just copied and pasted what struck me as an important news item -- or else I'd have noted this at the outset.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Pathetic:
  2. Romney Suspends Campaign, McCain Seen as a Sure Winner:
Adam J:
Gotta love it. Even in his concession, he finds a way to squeeze in some nice political rhetoric.
2.7.2008 12:57pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
I guess it is time to start thinking of VPs and Cabinets:

1. Fred Thomson V.P.
2. Guliani Homeland Security
3. Huckabee Secretary of State
4. Paul - Federal Reserve Chairman
5. All the frat boys at National Review and Rush Limbaugh, crybabies .
2.7.2008 12:59pm
DiverDan (mail):
As long as Huckabee is not Secretary of Education - God Help Us in science education in that event! [Pun intended -Does an intelligently designed Science Curriculum include evolution?]
2.7.2008 1:03pm
Constitutional Crisis (mail):
That's awesome. 9/11 made him quit his campaign.

Have these guys no shame?
2.7.2008 1:03pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
He was a bad candidate, because of his flip-flops.

That said, it's also true that a lot of people who might have voted for him otherwise didn't because those voters were bigoted against Mormons. And that's just horrible.
2.7.2008 1:05pm
Brian Mac:
"I guess it is time to start thinking of VPs and Cabinets:

1. Fred Thomson V.P.
2. Guliani Homeland Security
3. Huckabee Secretary of State"

Because Huckabee has shown such a fine grasp of foreign policy?
2.7.2008 1:07pm
Davebo (mail):

And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror,"


A bit confusing. So if he keeps up his campaign the terrorists will have won?

And is it true that CPAC is being held at a Maryland Denny's this year?
2.7.2008 1:11pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

A bit confusing. So if he keeps up his campaign the terrorists will have won?
The concern is that a divided Republican party might allow Obama to become President, and that would be surrendering to terror.
2.7.2008 1:15pm
Crunchy Frog:
Dilan Esper: although I have huge theological problems with Mormonism, the vast majority of Mormons I have met are perfectly nice people, and not one of them had a third eye in the middle of his forehead.

Yes, I voted for Romney, after my first choice (Thompson) dropped out. We're voting for a president, not a national pastor.
2.7.2008 1:15pm
tarheel:
The concern is that a divided Republican party might allow Obama to become President, and that would be surrendering to terror.
2.7.2008 1:21pm
tarheel:
Sorry hit the post button by accident. Ignore previous post.
2.7.2008 1:22pm
SeaDrive:
David Brooks said that candidates who are the sons of presidents don't know why they are running. I'm not sure that I agree exactly, but the observation points in the right direction. There was something inauthentic about Romney the candidate that overwhelmed his education and experience which were the best of all the republican candidates.
2.7.2008 1:24pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
That said, it's also true that a lot of people who might have voted for him otherwise didn't because those voters were bigoted against Mormons. And that's just horrible.
Really? Where is there any evidence that this actually happened?
2.7.2008 1:24pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
David:

Check the geography of where Romney did well and where he did poorly, and the exit poll results of what groups voted for him and what groups didn't. Also, there were some prominent evangelical and Catholic commentators who made the argument overtly.

It's pretty clear what happened here, and it isn't pretty.
2.7.2008 1:27pm
tarheel:

I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror

He showed very little class in running his campaign, so I guess it is only appropriate that he would show no class in ending it as well.

There may be some who didn't vote for him because he was a Mormon, but most didn't vote for him because he was a Gore-esque phony.
2.7.2008 1:29pm
Mark Field (mail):

A bit confusing. So if he keeps up his campaign the terrorists will have won?


You'd think he'd have considered this before he ran at all. Every day he was in the race was a day he helped the terrorists win.
2.7.2008 1:31pm
Hoosier:
tarheel--Amen! Brother, Amen!

1)VP--Sarah Palin
2)SecState--Richard Haass (I'm gonna hafta insist on this one.)
3)SecDef--Sam Nunn or Dan Coates
4)Treasury--stand pat
5)Amb. to Israel--Ron Paul (C'mon! You KNOW you want to see it.)
2.7.2008 1:37pm
Anderson (mail):
"Surrender to terror"?

What a jerk. Don't let the door hit your tail on the way out, Mittens.

Cf. Rush-freakin'-Limbaugh:

The talk host said America's direction in Iraq would not be substantially different even if Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama were elected. "They are not going to surrender the country to Islamic radicalism or the war in Iraq," Mr. Limbaugh said after mentioning the two Democratic senators by name. "They are not going to do that to themselves, despite what their base says."

"The idea that we've only got one person in this whole roster of candidates, either party, who is willing to take on the war on terror is frankly, absurd," Mr. Limbaugh said.


Absurd: Romney, in a nutshell.
2.7.2008 1:48pm
Jason F:
I guess now that the campaign is over, his sons are free to enlist in the military.
2.7.2008 1:48pm
Temp Guest (mail):
McCain v Obama -- this conservative Republican votes Obama. McCain v Clinton -- this conservative Republican stays home. No matter who is president for the next four years, I expect Romney to be running in 2012 on a single plank platform: " let's try and pick up the pieces". A good campaign slogan might be, "I warned you but you wouldn't listen".
2.7.2008 1:51pm
Justin (mail):
Voting for Obama wouldn't just help the terrorists, it means we'd be surrendering to them! That's because Obama is a muslim, and if he wins, we're all going to be under Sharia rule.

...or something. Did you know that Obama fathered a black baby?
2.7.2008 1:51pm
Anderson (mail):
I guess now that the campaign is over, his sons are free to enlist in the military.

Bwa-ha-ha! No, that would be surrendering to terror.
2.7.2008 1:53pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
Anderson:

You're a typical Nine-Tenner. Keep that head forever in the sand and pretend that Republicans are the greatest threat to mankind.
2.7.2008 2:05pm
Brian Mac:
"this conservative Republican votes Obama"

You guys crack me up. I mean sure, McCain might be pro-gun, pro-life, pro-family, and pro-war, but he's occasionally worked with Kennedy, so he's pretty much Satan. Obama, on the other hand, has got rock-solid conservative credentials, right? Keep fighting, dear patriot!
2.7.2008 2:06pm
lucia (mail) (www):
Dilan-
I've heard of the evangelicals preferred Huckabee. But I've been looking at a map of catholic density and votes for Romney, and I'm not seeing evidence catholic states avoided Romney any more than non-catholic state. There are tons of Catholics in Mass, where he did well. Denver, Nevada, Minn., Michigan North Dakota and Montana look pretty Catholic by percentage— he got them. Oklahoma and Missouri aren't Catholic, and McCain won them.

Do you have statistics on this?

Maps Counties-- catholic?
% of catholic by state
map of primary wins
2.7.2008 2:09pm
Anderson (mail):
You're a typical Nine-Tenner. Keep that head forever in the sand and pretend that Republicans are the greatest threat to mankind.

I'm sure you're not stupid or dishonest, so I guess you just don't read very well.

What did I write about Republicans' being any kind of threat to anything?

Romney accused the *Democrats* of being a threat to national security. So you try to turn this around into "Anderson says the Republicans are a threat"? WTF?
2.7.2008 2:10pm
EH (mail):
Is it really a serious assertion that a Republican can win this year?
2.7.2008 2:10pm
OrinKerr:
He was a bad candidate, because of his flip-flops.

Dilan, could you please focus on substance, rather than the candidate's choice of footwear? ;-)
2.7.2008 2:12pm
mbsch13:
As long as we're talking Veep/Cabinet:

Veep: Fred! (rally the conservatives)
SecState: John Bolton (read his book and you'll see this is an inspired choice)
SecDef: Lieberman (rally the moderates/liberals)
SecTreas: Steve Forbes (take the fight to the Fed!)
AG: Guilini
SecEveryOtherCabinetPost: Ron Paul (to abolish them all!)
2.7.2008 2:12pm
sashal (mail):
eide_I,


You're a typical Nine-Tenner. Keep that head forever in the sand and pretend that Republicans are the greatest threat to mankind.



there is nothing to pretend there, they are right now , at that historical point...
2.7.2008 2:14pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
lucia:

I don't think lay Catholics voted against Romney in any great numbers. I simply pointed out that some influential conservative Catholic leaders (such as Father Neuhaus) openly advocated against his candidacy on those bigoted grounds, and that this open advocacy of bigotry helps explain the voting patterns that did take place. In other words, the fact that key conservative Catholic leaders took this anti-Mormon stance may have legitimized the position among some anti-Mormon evangelicals, even if it didn't have much effect on Catholics.
2.7.2008 2:19pm
Brian Mac:
"Is it really a serious assertion that a Republican can win this year?"

The futures market (intrade) gives them a 40% chance, so go ahead and make your fortune.
2.7.2008 2:21pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
You're a typical Nine-Tenner. Keep that head forever in the sand and pretend that Republicans are the greatest threat to mankind.


No, he's just a troll. Don't feed him and maybe he'll crawl back under his wet rock and die of hunger.
2.7.2008 2:23pm
cjwynes (mail):
I expect that, in the unlikely event that McCain wins the general election, he'll fill the cabinet with all his liberal buddies. Heck, he might pick Joe Lieberman as his VP, but only because Felipe Calderon isn't legally eligible for the job.

Seriously, the revelation last week of what McCain said about Alito and the fact that he's got David Souter's champion by his side pretty much killed any idea that I might have stomached voting for the man. The difference between Souter and Breyer has been worth maybe 2 or 3 good decisions in a dozen years. Why exactly do any of these supposedly conservative/libertarian law professors see any hope in a McCain presidency? Do they seriously believe they can exert some measure of control on this manic maverick?
2.7.2008 2:23pm
sashal (mail):
It's reminiscent of DeLay's "I'm resigning because the Dems will say mean things about me in the next election. Wah!"

I was hoping Romney would stay in the race a little longer -- 1) so he's spend more of his own money and boost the Economy, and 2) because it screws up the Republican race.
What if Huckabee drops too.
I would love to see the debate between R.Paul and 100 years of wars McCain
2.7.2008 2:24pm
Joe Kowalski (mail):
<blockquote>
Did you know that Obama fathered a black baby?
</blockquote>
Two of them in fact! Oh the scandal! What's next, him being the product of Miscegenation?
2.7.2008 2:28pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Orin:

Maybe Mitt Romney and John Kerry both shopped at the same Massachusetts shoe store.
2.7.2008 2:33pm
KenB (mail):
These comments seriously deride Romney for saying a Democratic victory would lead to a surrender to terrorism. But to support that conclusion, one need do little more than take Obama and Hillary at their words: get our troops out of Iraq as soon as possible.

I recognize Democrats argue that leaving Iraq will let us concentrate on the "real" war in Afghanistan. But that's sophistry. Once we're out of Iraq, the same people will argue leaving Afghanistan will let us concentrate on the "real" problem somewhere else.

You may believe they will renege on their words, as Limbaugh reportedly does. Politicians routinely renege on their words, but counting on that seems a strange basis for a vote.

You can rationally support the present Democratic foreign policy only (1) if you do not believe Islam contains an aggressive and expansionist faction that threatens us or (2) if you support the aggression and expansion. Democrats generally fall under the first category. Republicans generally believe the first category to be self delusion.

Accordingly, I don't think Romney's comment was out of line. I recognize many will disagree, mostly because, I suspect, they reject the thesis of an aggressive and expansionist faction. Why don't we focus on that issue rather than Romney's adoption of it. Romney's a Republican after all and one would expect him to generally subscribe to the Republican point of view.
2.7.2008 2:33pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
You guys crack me up. I mean sure, McCain might be pro-gun, pro-life, pro-family, and pro-war, but he's occasionally worked with Kennedy, so he's pretty much Satan. Obama, on the other hand, has got rock-solid conservative credentials, right? Keep fighting, dear patriot!


Well put, McCain was always my second choice but never a distant second. Given the choice between him and either of the one-term Senators who have made announcing to the enemy how long they need to hold on in Iraq the focus of their campaigns, McCain is the only honorable option this fall.
2.7.2008 2:34pm
Anon1ms (mail):
What a dweeb . . . he sounds like some losing college football coach who is being ushered out the door and claims it is his choice, "for the good of the program."

He can't be honest, even at the end.
2.7.2008 2:45pm
tarheel:

Accordingly, I don't think Romney's comment was out of line.

I recognize that there are relevant differences between the parties in their Iraq policies, and those should absolutely be part of a reasoned debate this summer and fall.

Romney's rhetoric ("surrender") serves only to poison the political well and make such a debate less likely. I know it is red meat for the winger partisans, but it is inaccurate and does nothing to help his party's cause.
2.7.2008 2:46pm
OK lawyer (mail):
I don't honestly believe that either Hillary or Obama begin immediate pull out of Iraq, regardless of how many times they say it. W promised he was a "conservative" over and over, and he ignored that promise pretty much the past 8 years. so, why do we start believing campaign promises now?
2.7.2008 2:49pm
CJColucci:
a lot of people who might have voted for him otherwise didn't because those voters were bigoted against Mormons. And that's just horrible.

Indeed, but his being a Mormon didn't seem to hurt him when he successfully ran for Governor in heavily Democratic Massachusetts. Maybe he just hung with the wrong crowd.
2.7.2008 2:49pm
tarheel:
No to mention that it is patently ridiculous for him to argue that he is quitting for any reason other than that his campaign is a failure.
2.7.2008 2:49pm
srg:
KenB,
I supported the war in Iraq, but I also realize that there are many people -both conservatives and liberals -who supported the war in Afghanistan but opposed the war in Iraq. there isn't the slightest evidence that either Hillary or Obama wants to pull out of Afghanistan.
2.7.2008 2:50pm
AnneS:
"You can rationally support the present Democratic foreign policy only (1) if you do not believe Islam contains an aggressive and expansionist faction that threatens us or (2) if you support the aggression and expansion."

I think there might be a third possibility. Now what could it POSSIBLY be?

Regarding Romney - What an ass.
2.7.2008 2:54pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Romney's rhetoric ("surrender") serves only to poison the political well and make such a debate less likely. I know it is red meat for the winger partisans, but it is inaccurate and does nothing to help his party's cause.


That's rich considering that when Obama campaigned for his Senate seat, he told his supporters that the Iraq campaign of the War as a plot cooked up by Karl Rove to distract them from poverty and people without health insurance.
2.7.2008 2:54pm
Anderson (mail):
If anyone spent a little time reading some of the Dem blogs (like I do reading the Repub ones), they would know that one of the chief objections to Hillary from the left is that she would *not* get us out of Iraq, and that she is too favorable to the whole Iraq adventure.

Unfortunately, rather than paying any attention to facts, many people simply create a fantasy scapegoat of every opinion they deride, and then simply assume that the Democrats embody same.

Romney's comment shows that he is either ignorant or dishonest, as the quote from Limbaugh that I provided strongly suggests. (And in context, Limbaugh was PRAISING Romney and bashing McCain.)
2.7.2008 2:57pm
JohnO (mail):
Doesn't a map showing where Romney had success lend more credence that he was helped by voters who voted for him BECAUSE he was a Mormon rather than voters in other place voting against him on that basis?
2.7.2008 2:57pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
JohnO:

The two points are not mutually exclusive.
2.7.2008 3:01pm
srg:
Thorley Winston,

I gather your point is that if Obama said something stupid and anti-Republican, then any Republican can say whatever dumb, outrageous thing he wants.
2.7.2008 3:04pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Thorley Winston calling Anderson a troll. And the irony meter explodes.
2.7.2008 3:08pm
tarheel:
srg:

The entire premise of the Romney campaign was that quotes and policy positions more than 24 months old are no longer operative. I vote we apply the same logic to this purported Obama quote.
2.7.2008 3:11pm
srg:
There is a case that pulling out of Iraq in the way that both Obama and Clinton claim they will would end up helping Al Qaeda. It is certainly a defensible position. Nevertheless, the way Romney phrased it was the worst kind of rabble-rousing since neither Clinton nor Obama can be accused of intending to "surrender to terror." Good riddance to Romney.
2.7.2008 3:12pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
What has to be kept in mind is that Romney isn't speaking to Democrats, or, really, even independents. He is speaking to Republicans, the bulk of whom do believe that the cut and run expounded by Clinton and Obama would be bad for national security. It doesn't really matter whether it is true or not, or whether Clinton would or would not withdrawal faster than a Republican would, but rather, that many Republicans believe it. Because, after all, the appearance of pulling out for the benefit of the party and the country somewhat gracefully leaves open his ability to run again in 4 years, if McCain loses this time, and, indeed, puts him really as the front runner in that race. Indeed, he may actually prefer running after a third Clinton term, than after a second George W. Bush term (or, to be charitable to the Democrats, after a third Bush term).
2.7.2008 3:15pm
Wahoowa:
1. I second and vigorously support Hoosier's nomination of Sarah Palin as VP. A blockbuster choice.
2. Secretary of State = Pete Hoekstra
3. Treasury = Romney (this will of course never happen because McCain hates him--more likely to be Phil Gramm, but I can hope)
4. Defense = John Negroponte
5. AG = Fred Thompson
2.7.2008 3:17pm
c.gray (mail):

I simply pointed out that some influential conservative Catholic leaders (such as Father Neuhaus) openly advocated against his candidacy on those bigoted grounds


Neuhaus never "advocated against" Romney's candidacy, on religious or any other grounds. He just claimed it was wrongheaded to dismiss all the Protestant Evangelical's voting against him as simpleminded bigots. And he's right.

And I can't think of any other genuinely "influential Catholic leaders" who've commented on Romney at all.

/shrug

The (very) few admitted Republicans among the (Catholic) congregation I worship with overwhelmingly favored McCain, but Romney's LDS baptism had nothing to do with it. Its that McCain's rock-solid pro-life position, record of selfless public service, and genuine heroism make Romney a tough sell. One friend described him as "a former pro-choice governor from taxachussets who looks like an actor from an herbal male enhancement ad." Besides, paraphrasing Neuhaus himself, Catholics are used to having ignorant heathens in the White House.

Personally, I preferred Romney to McCain. I think McCain's an ill-tempered hothead with a knack for alienating his friends and colleagues and a penchant for latching onto wrong-headed causes. I think these traits, among other things, will probably cost him the general election in November.

But Romney's right to drop out. If he cannot stay competitive McCain now, whatever the reasons, he has 0 chance of defeating the Democratic nominee in November. So what's the point, barring a desire to intentionally sabotage McCain out of spite?
2.7.2008 3:23pm
DiverDan (mail):
"Is it really a serious assertion that a Republican can win this year?"

Well, probably not if they were running against an organized political party. But remember, any Republican's only serious opposition is going to come from the Democratic Party, which has shown a remarkable ability to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory. I trust that they can do it again.
2.7.2008 3:23pm
Anderson (mail):
Thorley Winston calling Anderson a troll. And the irony meter explodes.

You heard that, too?

srg: Nevertheless, the way Romney phrased it was the worst kind of rabble-rousing since neither Clinton nor Obama can be accused of intending to "surrender to terror."

Well said, sir.
2.7.2008 3:25pm
Romra (mail):
I see the conservative bed-wetters are out in force, cheerleading Romney's silly comments.

Have you checked your child's closet for an Islamonazi today?
2.7.2008 3:26pm
Anderson (mail):
Well, probably not if they were running against an organized political party.

Diver Dan, I hear ya.

Here's the object of his allusion, for you younger sorts.
2.7.2008 3:28pm
srg:
Did you know that Obama fathered a black baby?

That's the best line I've heard since someone said that people are shocked that 20% of Americans are in the bottom quintile and want this problem to be addressed immediately.
2.7.2008 3:35pm
PC:
1. John Hinderaker - V.P.
2. Zombie J. Edgar Hoover - Homeland Security
3. Oliver North - Secretary of State
4. Harriet Miers - Attorney General
5. Michael Ledeen - Ambassador to Iran
2.7.2008 3:36pm
Orielbean (mail):
Whoowa - you nominate Negroponte for his Honduran "special project" work as SecDef? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I hope you were joking.
2.7.2008 3:37pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Neuhaus never "advocated against" Romney's candidacy, on religious or any other grounds. He just claimed it was wrongheaded to dismiss all the Protestant Evangelical's voting against him as simpleminded bigots. And he's right.

Really? Neuhaus' argument was that even if Romney's policies were completely acceptable to social conservatives, it was perfectly acceptable to vote against him because if he were elected it would advance the status of Mormonism, a religion he disagreed with.

That's pure bigotry. You can make the same argument to say that a Christian shouldn't vote for Joe Lieberman because he is Jewish, or a Protestant shouldn't vote for John Kennedy or Rudy Giuliani because he is Catholic, or a Christian shouldn't vote for a Muslim or an agnostic or an atheist. Indeed, you can make the same argument with respect to hiring a Mormon as your CEO, or giving an award to a Mormon, or even complimenting a Mormon.
2.7.2008 3:38pm
Anderson (mail):
That's pure bigotry.

Hm. What if Romney were a Scientologist?

I think Mormons have pretty much "arrived" as far as not being cultists, but I can see that reasonable people could differ.
2.7.2008 3:40pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Anderson:

The difference is contained in my first paragraph of my 3:38 about Neuhaus' argument not depending on whether Romney's views are acceptable to social conservatives.

Obviously, to vote against a Scientologist on the basis of his or her VIEWS is perfectly appropriate.

But voting against a person merely because it will advance a competing religion if the person wins is inseparable from bigotry, because it is applicable to anyone's religion but one's own.
2.7.2008 3:48pm
SeaDrive:

W promised he was a "conservative" over and over, and he ignored that promise pretty much the past 8 years. so, why do we start believing campaign promises now?


Ya gotta be kidding. We've had tax cuts for the rich, moves to privatize social programs, support for faith-based programs, health programs (especially overseas) eviscerated in the name of "philosophy of life", the unitary executive, dubious leniency in environmental programs for the benefit of business. Not a liberal platform.
2.7.2008 3:52pm
rarango (mail):
Romra: "conservative bed wetters...." Very elegantly stated, Romra--a real addition to informed discourse. Let me suggest you spend a year in the mid east somewhere and perhaps, like Daniel Pearl, you might meet such an Isamonazi.

I see Romney's decision a whole lot different than many conspirators here: Romney's out--in a week this will be forgotten, and where will the electorate be? No republican gives a damn what liberal demoracts think of their exit, or their snark. Romney addressed this to conservative republicans who are the audience four years hence. And the possible outcome of Romney's withdrawl?
McCain now has a clear field to start consolidating the republicans, winning over the base, and getting ready for the general. The Dems, on the other hand, are locked in a dead heat with no clear victor in sight, and a very bruising and highly partisan fight ahead. A fight for super delegates, seating florida and michigan, and some general scorched earth tactics that will do very little to bring the democrats together.

McCain, rightly or wrongly is perceived by many as an independent, and neither Obama nor Clinton are going to attract that demographic. Finally, depending on the ultimate democratic victor, the Dems black constituency may be sitting this one out. In short, I am more than willing to buy McCain futures at this time than I am democratic futures--and Romney has only helped himself among potential republicans in 4 years. And finally! the ultimate guarantor of McCain's success: He has the endorsement of the NYT!


While I most definitely do not like Senator McCain, given a choice between senators with 100 ADA rating, and a senator with 70-80 conservative rating, this isnt a hard choice for me.
2.7.2008 3:52pm
Procrastinator:
Romney is truly one of the most inauthentic politicians I have ever seen. Can anyone name a politico who did more obvious flip-flops about supposed "core beliefs" to attain power? And his "double Guantanamo" debate comment was just disgusting--it telegraphed that he would say anything to anyone to get elected.

I'm sure if he thought it would advance his career, he would gladly turn around and take back everything he said about Obama and Hillary. Good riddance, don't let the door hit you, etc.
2.7.2008 3:54pm
SDK (mail):
tarheel:

That's quite an assertion...the entire premise of Romney's campaign was that quotes 24 months old do not matter. I doubt that he poured $35 million of his own money into a campaign where the whole principle of the campaign was that statements 24 months in the past no longer mattered.

Yes, Romney pandered. But, so do all politicians. McCain panders. Even the great Ronald Reagan pandered. Romney just seemed so inauthentic doing it. Romney's biggest problem...conflicting advice from advisers and running away from who he is...a talented technocrat with a track record of fixing entities in dire financial situations.
2.7.2008 3:58pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
Dilan Esper:

In your first two posts, you assert that it is "pretty clear" that "a lot of people" didn't vote for Romney because they're "bigoted against Mormons." I suppose anything is possible, especially where vague terms like "a lot of people" are concerned. But what is the actual evidence you are relying on for your conclusion?

So far, all you have done is allude to geographic outcomes in general, unspecified exit polling data, and the comments of a handful of mostly unidentified Catholic and evangelical opinion leaders. Your posts fairly indicate that the last of these supposed grounds is little more than an assumption that arguably bigoted comments by Richard John Neuhaus and likeminded Catholics "may have legitimized the position among some anti-Mormon evangelicals" even though you concede that it had little effect on Catholics themselves. (Apart from this contention being speculative, I think it is a little odd. You're in effect arguing that a group of evangelicals ostensibly so sectarian that they cannot bring themselves to vote for a Mormon are taking their cues from Catholics!)

In the end, it seems like your case rests on the purported bigotry of some evangelicals, presumably southern evangelicals. Here's a chart from Christianity Today breaking down how Republican evangelicals voted on Super Tuesday state by state. This data would seem to be a good proxy for your assertions about geographic outcomes, exit polling data, and evangelicals. But I don't see how this data supports your thesis. Am I mistaken? Are there other data that I should be looking at instead?

This isn't to say that I think it's inconceivable that some evangelicals passed on Romney for sectarian reasons. But unless evangelicals did so in large enough numbers for it to have had a significant impact on the outcome, that observation is a fairly trivial one. I am unconvinced by the data I have seen so far that we are talking about a more than trivial phenomenon.
2.7.2008 3:59pm
tarheel:
SDK:

I actually agree with everything you said about Romney. Had he run as a moderate, highly successful technocrat he might have had a chance (and maybe even my vote). But he pandered egregiously.

I was mostly kidding about the 24 month thing.
2.7.2008 4:01pm
Romra (mail):
Romra: "conservative bed wetters...." Very elegantly stated, Romra--a real addition to informed discourse.


I can only do so much with the materials provided. Should I have used some informed discourse like "surrendering to terrorists"?


Let me suggest you spend a year in the mid east somewhere and perhaps, like Daniel Pearl, you might meet such an Isamonazi.


Bad people exist in the world? No shit?!?

Clearly the US is in existential danger because some douchebag Muslims are savage thugs. Vote Repub!
2.7.2008 4:01pm
lucia (mail) (www):
I love this from Neuhaus:
Few Catholics believe that a candidate is disqualified by being a Mormon. The reason is obvious: Catholics are accustomed to having heretics in the White House.


I read that article by Neuhaus. I find it difficult to believe that many evangelicals justified their preference for Huckabee based on a Catholic's say-so.

In any case, Neuhaus seemed to like Romney and I don't see anything in that article that would turn Catholics away from Romney. Catholic
2.7.2008 4:03pm
Anderson (mail):
But voting against a person merely because it will advance a competing religion if the person wins is inseparable from bigotry, because it is applicable to anyone's religion but one's own.

But that's not the same thing as what Neuhaus said. He didn't say that he would vote against anyone who wasn't a Baptist -- a Methodist, for instance. Rather, he suggested that some religions were viewed as sufficiently pernicious that, as a policy position, their spread should not be supported.

If Tom Cruise were the Democratic nominee, and took his political platform from my blog archives, I still wouldn't vote for him. Well, mainly b/c he's crazy. But I also wouldn't want to endorse Scientology, which I *do* believe is a pernicious cult.

Am I therefore a bigot? That seems to leach all meaning from the word.
2.7.2008 4:04pm
Anderson (mail):
("Baptist" being just an example - Neuhaus is not an Anabaptist heretic, obviously.)
2.7.2008 4:06pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Curmudgeonly:

You are misreading your own Christianity Today chart. Look at it again. Note that it is a THREE-WAY race. Now note that with the exception of Massachusetts, which doesn't count for obvious reasons, in NO state did Romney get more than 40 percent of the Evangelical vote. And this is despite being the FRONT-RUNNER coming into the primary season and the candidate endorsed by most conservative opinion makers, who have had tremendous influence in the past.

Now look closer. Specifically, look at SOUTHERN evangelicals (where anti-Mormon prejudice is concentrated). Arkansas, 18 percent. Georgia, 29 percent. Missouri, 28 percent. Oklahoma, 25 percent. Tennessee, 19 percent.

That's a pretty dismal showing. You sure you want to claim that a miniscule percentage of the approximately 75 percent of the Southern Republican evangelical community that voted against Romney was motivated by anti-Mormon bias?
2.7.2008 4:07pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
If Tom Cruise were the Democratic nominee, and took his political platform from my blog archives, I still wouldn't vote for him. Well, mainly b/c he's crazy. But I also wouldn't want to endorse Scientology, which I *do* believe is a pernicious cult.

Am I therefore a bigot? That seems to leach all meaning from the word.

1. It doesn't matter that Neuhaus, in an attempt to appear reasonable, declined to extend his argument to Protestantism. It LOGICALLY extends there.

2. If you were convinced that Cruise was NOT crazy and would RESPECT the separation of church and state, and make no decisions based on Scientology, but you voted against him for the sole reason that his election would promote his religion, yeah, that would be bigoted.
2.7.2008 4:10pm
SDK (mail) (www):
As a lifelong member of the LDS Church (and a political junkie) I watched Romney's campaign closely. My support for him ebbed and flowed, for many of the reasons mentioned in previous comments. He seemed a bit inauthentic, he pandered, and he ran away from his talents. He also tried the impossible, to bridge the divide between Mormons and evangelicals.

That said, I have wondered whether Romney's inconsistent views on various social issues exacerbated the entrenched distrust many evangelicals have towards Mormons. Was it easier to dismiss Romney because of his inconsistent positions by saying, "There goes another Mormon with all his dishonesty...?" Or, did his inconsistency receive quite a bit of focus because he was Mormon? All candidates possess a degree of inconsistency, and I'm sure it is difficult for any candidate to be completely authentic all of the time.

I'm curious to see what effect Romney's candidacy will have on the question of whether one would vote for a Mormon.
2.7.2008 4:16pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
SDK:

My suspicion is you can figure out who will vote for a Mormon and who won't by looking at where Mormons have been elected and where they haven't.

They obviously get elected in both parties in the Mountain West, where there are plenty of Mormons and relatively little prejudice against them. They also can get elected elsewhere, especially as Democrats, because the types of people who hate Mormons tend to be concentrated in the other party.

In the South, though, Mormons don't win elections.

My guess is it is possible for a Mormon Democrat to win the Presidency, because he or she wouldn't need to win the South. As for Mormon Republicans, forget it.
2.7.2008 4:20pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
McCain, rightly or wrongly is perceived by many as an independent, and neither Obama nor Clinton are going to attract that demographic. Finally, depending on the ultimate democratic victor, the Dems black constituency may be sitting this one out. In short, I am more than willing to buy McCain futures at this time than I am democratic futures--and Romney has only helped himself among potential republicans in 4 years.


Quite right, this is the election where reliance on pandering to identity politics is going to force Democrats to decide whether to alienate their feminist contingent by NOT selecting the "first female presidential candidate" or their racialist contingent by NOT selecting the "first black presidential candidate." They could try for a "unity ticket" but given the treatment Gore received as VP during the first "co-presidency" and that Obama wasn't willing to even wait until he had actually served a full term in the Senate before running for President, it seems unlikely he'd be willing to accept the bottom half of the ticket rather than run again in 2012. As of today, it's John McCain's to lose.
2.7.2008 4:22pm
John Bridge:
Some of the posters have said Romney was being dishonest when he said that he was withdrawing for the good of the party, and not because he is losing. I think that's a wrong interpretation. The fact of dropping out and his statement that "I hate to lose" make it clear that he is acknowledging that defeat has become inevitable. His point was that by withdrawing soon after defeat has become inevitable, instead of sticking around like Huckabee or Ron Paul, he will allow the party more time to unify.
2.7.2008 4:27pm
Justin (mail):
"You can rationally support the present Democratic foreign policy only (1) if you do not believe Islam contains an aggressive and expansionist faction that threatens us"

Expansionist? You do know that words...have meanings, right?
2.7.2008 4:30pm
Randy R. (mail):
When you say once that you will be more supportive of gay rights than Ted Kennedy, then say you gays are a threat to America, and when you support abortion, then say you don't, you look like an idiot pandering to who ever it's convenient at the moment.

Core beliefs? The only one he had was to get Mit Romney elected. Beyond that, there wasn't a darn thing I would believe about him. He couldn't get elected class president with an approach like that.
2.7.2008 4:30pm
titus32:
Anderson,

I realize your "facts" on Hillary's position on withdrawal are informed by the Democratic blogs (with a cf. cite to Rush Limbaugh for good measure).

Nevertheless, according to the NY Times, Hillary's position on the record is to start withdrawal within 60 days of taking office and to withdraw "most" of the troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.

McCain's, on the other hand, is against any timetable for withdrawal because of the message this sends to the opposition.

I realize that Romney's "surrender to terror" is rhetoric, but it's apparently based on a real difference in policy between Clinton (not to mention Obama) and McCain.
2.7.2008 4:34pm
Justin (mail):
Yes, McCain is seen as an independant, and Obama and Hillary are seen as Democrats, which is why, ummm. Obama and Hillary are basically tied in head-to-head polls. Plus Mac has to deal with pissed off conservatives. Plus Mac has to appoint a VP, who may not be so independant. Plus as more and more independants tune in, they'll realize things like Mac is for the war in Iraq.

Plus, unfortunately, violence in Iraq is going to return to 2006 levels once the Sadr truce ends.
2.7.2008 4:35pm
Anderson (mail):
If you were convinced that Cruise was NOT crazy and would RESPECT the separation of church and state, and make no decisions based on Scientology, but you voted against him for the sole reason that his election would promote his religion, yeah, that would be bigoted.

Nope. Bigotry is an *irrational* prejudice.
2.7.2008 4:37pm
Anderson (mail):
McCain's, on the other hand, is against any timetable for withdrawal because of the message this sends to the opposition.

Not to mention the message it sends to the Iraqi gov't -- get your s*** together, or else. That is the point of a timetable.

As it is, the message that McCain is sending to al-Qaeda et al. is "your PR opportunities will continue indefinitely, and I'm happy to send American boys to die for your amusement."

... How did open-ended assistance to the South Vietnamese government work out? They're still in power, right?

"Surrender to Communism," I suppose.
2.7.2008 4:40pm
JosephSlater (mail):
I predict that all the "shoring up the base" work McCain is going to try to do will come back and haunt him in the general election. If there's one thing this year has proved, it's that the far-right Republicans can't even win in their own party. The more pandering McCain does to the Limbaughs, Dobsons, and other agents of intolerance, the less able he will be to win over the moderates and independents in the general election.

Further, this part of the Repub base will likely still not support McCain enthusiastically. And even though some Repub strategists dream of motivating the base to vote against Hillary, (i) you won't see that as much if Obama is the Dem nominee, and (ii) what does it mean that Ann Coulter is saying she'll vote for Hillary against McCain?
2.7.2008 4:42pm
Anderson (mail):
If there's one thing this year has proved, it's that the far-right Republicans can't even win in their own party.

I will be interested to see how the True Conservatives revise the nominating process for 2012.

what does it mean that Ann Coulter is saying she'll vote for Hillary against McCain?

That she's a nutty fruitcake. But we already knew that.
2.7.2008 4:47pm
titus32:
Anderson, my comments on the candidates' positions were descriptive -- they did not take a position on withdrawal one way or the other. I can see that these topics make your blood boil, but my point was that perhaps you shouldn't base your ideas of Hillary's withdrawal position on what you read on Democratic blogs. You certainly shouldn't take others to task for not doing the same and pass this off as some sort of insight on your part.
2.7.2008 4:51pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Coulter is a nutty fruitcake, and I doubt she's actually going to vote for Hillary. But I listen to some right-wing talk radio, and the hatred for McCain is incredible. I only meant that reference to indicate that I think it will be hard for McCain to win over some of these folks -- and the more he tries, the harder it will be for him to get the independents and moderates he needs.

I honestly wonder whether McCain would be better off, politically, going back to his position which correctly identified these folks as agents of intolerance.
2.7.2008 4:52pm
Anderson (mail):
Titus, I read you just fine; I observed that your comments didn't make much sense, but I was not going to parse them in detail.

How is removing "most" (= 51% or more) of our troops, SEVEN YEARS after the invasion, a "surrender to terror"?

Cutting our troop presence in half in 16 mos. is not a precipitate withdrawal. It's a timeline. The stick part of carrot-and-stick.
2.7.2008 4:54pm
rarango (mail):
Anderson: I would suggest you review the events leading to the North Vietnamese conquest of South Vietnam and the notion of "open ended assistance."
2.7.2008 4:56pm
titus32:
How is removing "most" (= 51% or more) of our troops, SEVEN YEARS after the invasion, a "surrender to terror"?

I didn't say it was -- in fact I said that I thought Romney's "surrender to terror" line is rhetoric. However, you're unreasonable to characterize Hillary's position as little different than McCain's on withdrawal, and to base that conclusion on reactions you've seen on blogs.
2.7.2008 5:05pm
Anderson (mail):
I honestly wonder whether McCain would be better off, politically, going back to his position which correctly identified these folks as agents of intolerance.

It would be really smart for him to run on an "old-time GOP" platform, with lots of talk about how the party went astray after Reagan &let's get back to Ronnie's vision.

Not particularly factual, n.b., but a smart platform that would attract independents who lean GOP but are bewildered by the Dubya years.
2.7.2008 5:06pm
Anderson (mail):
However, you're unreasonable to characterize Hillary's position as little different than McCain's on withdrawal

Where, exactly, did I do any such thing? Please cite.
2.7.2008 5:09pm
Thsw (mail):
In listening to today's news conference, in reference to the illegals currently in this country, my take is that McCain is going to use the "don't ask don't tell" doctrine. With that rhetoric, I doubt he will put much effort into a secure border.
2.7.2008 5:25pm
titus32:
If anyone spent a little time reading some of the Dem blogs (like I do reading the Repub ones), they would know that one of the chief objections to Hillary from the left is that she would *not* get us out of Iraq, and that she is too favorable to the whole Iraq adventure.

Unfortunately, rather than paying any attention to facts, many people simply create a fantasy scapegoat of every opinion they deride, and then simply assume that the Democrats embody same.


I read this to mean that you agree that "Hillary would *not* get us out of Iraq," similar to McCain's position (although I could be wrong--I admit I lost you during the "fantasy scapegoat" bit). I read Romney's rhetoric as shorthand for the opposite, i.e., Hillary would withdraw from the war. I read Hillary's record position as consistent with withdrawal.
2.7.2008 5:31pm
Anderson (mail):
Right, but that doesn't anywhere suggest that she's not different from McCain, who AFAIK wants us in Iraq forever and a day.

For that matter, as I noted, the very material you quoted from her site doesn't say "GET OUT" of Iraq ... it's perfectly consistent with a substantial presence of 50,000 troops or whatever. This is one of the things that annoys many on the left.
2.7.2008 5:39pm
JosephSlater (mail):
It would be really smart for him to run on an "old-time GOP" platform, with lots of talk about how the party went astray after Reagan &let's get back to Ronnie's vision.

Oh, that will be at least the implicit message for sure. McCain ain't running on the "let's keep the Dubya years going!" platform. In fact, it's been striking how the leading Repubs have been shying away from GW. I don't even think he'll be publically pining for the return of Newt Gingrich.

But I don't think that solves the problem. McCain has serious issues with the talk-radio/religious right types that genuflecting to Reagan won't fix. The instant conventional wisdom is that now McCain has the time and opportunity to make up with them. I'm suggesting that maybe there is a downside to that. The more he goes on about opposing all abortions, opposing gay rights, kicking all the illegals out right now, staying in Iraq forever, etc., the more he's going to alienate the moderates I think he needs to win.
2.7.2008 5:44pm
Dave N (mail):
In the South, though, Mormons don't win elections.
Except in Florida--Paula Hawkins was both LDS and elected to the U.S. Senate from that state in 1980. Of course, some might argue that Florida is no longer a true "Southern" state.

To say that southern evangelicals have theological problems with the LDS Church is an understatement. To suggest that they would not vote for a member of the LDS Church for public office is silly.
2.7.2008 5:45pm
titus32:
Anderson, okay -- you seem to agree that McCain and Hillary differ on withdrawal (i.e., one is for it, one is against it). McCain and Romney believe withdrawal is tantamount to disaster (a "surrender to terror"). This, I think, is what Romney was getting at, and I realize you disagree with him very strongly.
2.7.2008 5:56pm
Bender (mail):
One assertion with which I think it will be difficult to disagree: There are no longer any candidates for president with any real experience in and understanding of the private sector economy. And I think that is tragic considering the economic challenges that the United States will continue to face.
2.7.2008 5:58pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
Dilan Esper:

The problem I'm having with your argument is that you seem to think that the data in question speaks for itself (i.e., that it unmistakably demonstrates that some significant subset of southern evangelicals failed to embrace Romney because they refused to vote for a Mormon). But what compels such a reading of the data?

I don't see how your three-way race argument helps your case. Huckabee, a southern evangelical, fared best among southern evangelicals. This result doesn't seem very surprising. Isn't it possible that many southern evangelicals might have more of an affinity for a fellow southern evangelical than for a well-heeled Republican from Massachusetts perceived to have only recently converted to conservatism? Romney also trailed McCain among southern evangelicals in some states. But isn't it possible that many southern evangelicals might prefer a long-serving conservative (82.3 lifetime ACU rating) war hero from the Southwest over Romney, especially given that it is the conventional wisdom that the former offers the GOP its best shot at victory in November?

Mind you, I'm not contending that one must accept the accuracy or truth of these possible assessments of the three major GOP candidates. I'm merely suggesting that a southern evangelical reasonably might have made these assessments, and that the data on which you rely as proof of bigotry are every bit as consistent with these possible assessments. In other words, I don't think that the data demonstrates anti-Mormon bigotry. The bigotry conclusion just seems to be an assumption on your part about what the data must mean. What justifies your surmise?

I also think you cook the books a little. You discard Massachusetts "for obvious reasons." Fine by me, as your thesis seems to be all about the southern states. But might we not discount Arkansas for the same "obvious reasons"? After all, Huckabee was its governor for the last decade or so (1996-2007). That leaves Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, and Tennessee. Keeping in mind that this was a three-way race, the only one of these states in which Romney made an especially poor showing as compared to the other two candidates was Alabama. Among evangelicals, Romney actually outperformed McCain in two of the remaining three states (Georgia and Missouri). How is this proof positive of bigotry?

You ask if I'm sure I "want to claim that a miniscule percentage of the approximately 75 percent of the Southern Republican evangelical community that voted against Romney was motivated by anti-Mormon bias." Actually, my claim is similar but distinct: I'm claiming that you haven't provided any evidence to the contrary. And, all things being equal, I am reticent to level or accept charges of bigotry without some actual evidence.
2.7.2008 6:02pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
You can rationally support the present Democratic foreign policy only (1) if you do not believe Islam contains an aggressive and expansionist faction that threatens us or (2) if you support the aggression and expansion. Democrats generally fall under the first category. Republicans generally believe the first category to be self delusion.
Talk about false alternatives! Leaving aside the issue of what it means for the Islamists to be "expansionist", the key points of disagreement here are really:

1) How much of a threat? I sometimes hear conservatives talking as if they think the Islamists pose a substantial risk of conquering the U.S. and imposing Sharia law on us. How they would do this is beyond me, given that they have no army and no fleet to carry it. A more realistic assessment of the risk is that we might suffer the occasional bombing and maybe another attack on the order of 9/11. Not trivial, but not the end of the Republic either.

2) How effective are preemptive invasions of Middle Eastern countries as a means of preventing terrorist attacks on the U.S.? Do such invasions lower the risk of terrorism or increase it by convincing Muslims that the U.S. has it out for them? We liberals tend to think the answers are "not very (at best)" and "increase it".

3) How effective are other means of preventing terrorism (diplomacy, treating it as a law-enforcement matter, enhanced security measures at home, etc.)?

4) How good are our chances of obtaining a good outcome in Iraq by remaining there? Our chances of obtaining a good outcome by leaving? Likewise with bad outcomes. And of course, how good and how bad? Conservatives tend to categorize this as a matter of "winning" or "losing" but since what winning and losing in this kind of situation are isn't very well-defined and there's a continuum of possible outcomes rather than only two, this represents a significant category error.

And so, the question winds up being: given the benefits of the Iraq war (which we liberals think are pretty small, or negative), the costs of the war (hundreds of billions of dollars; lots of dead Americans; vastly more dead innocent Iraqis; Iraqis being forced to live in a war zone, which is even worse than living under an authoritarian dictatorship; reduced standing in the world; etc.), and the range of possible alternatives, is the war (and the general strategy underlying it) worth continuing? There are a lot of points of disagreement underlying the differences on this question.
2.7.2008 6:20pm
Anderson (mail):
This, I think, is what Romney was getting at, and I realize you disagree with him very strongly.

Indeed. And thanks for your more-civil-than-mine tone.
2.7.2008 6:20pm
Mr. X (www):
Now is the time for conservatives to rally around Ron Paul, the last true conservative left in the race.
2.7.2008 6:21pm
eyesay:
tarheel wrote "There may be some who didn't vote for [Mitt Romney] because he was a Mormon, but most didn't vote for him because he was a Gore-esque phony."

Senator, Vice President, and Nobel laureate Al Gore was the victim of a series of myths that were widely promoted and repeated.

Al Gore claimed to be the role model for the main character in Erich Segal's Love Story. Before you say "phony!" ask Erich Segal. Erich Segal has confirmed that the main character of Love Story (Oliver Barrett IV) was based on Al Gore.

Al Gore was accused of claiming to have invented the Internet. In fact, he said, truthfully, that he had supported legislation that promoted the expansion and development of the Internet.

Al Gore never claimed to have discovered Love Canal. He explained that a high-school student had written him a letter about Love Canal, and as a result, Gore held hearings about Love Canal, and, in retelling the story, speaking of the student's letter to him, he said "That was the one that started it all... We made a huge difference and it was all because one high school student got involved." The media, including the New York Times, misquoted Gore as saying "I was the one who started it all." So a story in which Al Gore credited a high-school student for her role in drawing public attention to the toxic conditions at Love Canal got twisted by the media into Al Gore claiming to have discovered Love Canal.

A few years later, a draft-dodging, AWOL, ex-cocaine-using, drunk driving president of the United States landed on an aircraft carrier with a "Mission Accomplished" backdrop, and since that time, it has become abundantly clear that, whatever the mission was, it has not been accomplished. Gore is not the phony here.
2.7.2008 7:16pm
eyesay:
sashal wrote "It's reminiscent of DeLay's 'I'm resigning because the Dems will say mean things about me in the next election. Wah!'"

Tom DeLay was indicted for violations of Texas law. As this is a Law blog, I would think that people would take violations of the law seriously.
2.7.2008 7:19pm
Benjamin P. Hayek (mail) (www):
Perhaps someone ought to actually read the text of the speech, and I wonder if Professor Kerr actually watched Romney deliver it. In any event, I watched the speech, and just now went back to read the text now in light of Professor Kerr's remarks that Romney's line re "surrender" is "pathetic":

"And Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror. They would retreat and declare defeat. And the consequence of that would be devastating. It would mean attacks on America, launched from safe havens that make Afghanistan under the Taliban look like child's play. About this, I have no doubt.

I disagree with Senator McCain on a number of issues, as you know. But I agree with him on doing whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq, on finding and executing Osama bin Laden, and on eliminating Al Qaeda and terror. If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."

At the time Romney gave the speech, and now again when I read the text, the meaning is clear: Both Clinton and Obama (especially Obama) would have us pull out of Iraq now (or sooner than prudent). The point is that remaining in Iraq as long as it takes is an aspect of the "war on terror" itself, and that those who would have us leave Iraq prematurely (i.e., in defeat) would have disastrous effects, among them that the U.S. is a paper-tiger, which is of course a perception that led to 9/11 in the first place. So while of course neither Obama nor Clinton would "surrender" in the "war on terror," many believe that leaving Iraq prematurely would function as a "surrender" a battle within the broader "war on terror," i.e., leaving Iraq premature would function to bolster our enemies.

If anyone thinks that such reasoning is "over the top," then one hasn't been paying much attention to my friends in the democrat race for POTUS.

Not "pathetic," not "over the top." Rather, one of the better speeches I've heard in some time. And I'll just note in addition (while I'm at it) that I've now watched about four-five hours of news coverage on Romney's withdrawal speech and not one commentator has made a claim even remotely similar to Professor Kerr's. In sum, "promptly withdrawing troops from Iraq" most certainly CAN be fairly described as "surrendering" a particular battle in the war on terror. The wisdom of the endeavor can reasonably called into the question. But the wisdom of getting the job done now that we're in this mess is beyond reasonable debate. (Which is why it won't happen, even if Clinton or Obama is POTUS.)
2.7.2008 7:55pm
Anderson (mail):
and I wonder if Professor Kerr actually watched Romney deliver it

Nah, he's probably lying: "It was a big applause line, delivered carefully and deliberately. After he delivers the line, Romney grins broadly and soaks in the moment of his having delivered a good zinger."

After all, he actually thinks that Democrats want the best for America just like Republicans do, even if they're mistaken about how to go about it. What would you expect from someone with so little moral fiber?

In fact, it is probably not even worth your time to read this deceitful blog.
2.7.2008 8:25pm
John Herbison (mail):
Perhaps Senator McCain can shore up his conservative bona fides by naming a right wing hero as his running mate: Clarence Uncle Thomas.
2.8.2008 2:20am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Dilan:
Check the geography of where Romney did well and where he did poorly, and the exit poll results of what groups voted for him and what groups didn't.
That's not an answer. Your claim wasn't that a lot of people didn't vote for him -- duh; if they did, he'd be the nominee. Your claim was that a lot of people who would have otherwise voted for him didn't do so because he was Mormon. I asked for your evidence of that. Why don't you think these people were voting for Huckabee rather than against Romney?

Yes, there were a handful of commentators who did make bigoted statements, but that doesn't mean that voters cast their ballots based on those statements.



Anderson:
Romney's comment shows that he is either ignorant or dishonest, as the quote from Limbaugh that I provided strongly suggests. (And in context, Limbaugh was PRAISING Romney and bashing McCain.)
No; in context, Limbaugh was bashing McCain. While I think Romney's quote is silly, I think your argument here is also silly. Since when is Limbaugh a reliable source for anything, rather than a source of political positioning? He may believe what he said (*), but he's not saying it because he believes it; he's saying it because he doesn't like McCain and is trying to refute a pro-McCain argument.


(*) Doubtful; I betcha the day after the convention, he'll be back to calling the Democrats appeasers or whatever term he's using nowadays.
2.8.2008 4:14am
Anderson (mail):
Agreed that Limbaugh isn't to be taken seriously; but there's nothing wrong with the rhetoric of "look, EVEN a genuine hack like Limbaugh isn't willing to be THAT hackish." As Prof. Kerr noted in his post, Romney seemed to be auditioning for the next Coulter ... albeit a male, Mormon, better-fed Coulter.
2.8.2008 8:25am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Curmudgeonly and David:

If you guys choose to cover your eyes to bigotry, that is your right.

But if you look at polling data over a long period of time, you will see that there is a significant percentage of Americans who will never vote for a Mormon for President under any circumstances.

Your argument must be that these people just disappeared during the Republican primaries this year.
2.8.2008 1:50pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
By the way, here's some more evidence of the phenomenon:

http://inmedias.blogspot.com/2008/02/
should-mormons-hate-huckabee.html
2.8.2008 2:39pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Here's another data point:

http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/
2008/02/romneys-mormonism-was-a-big-fa.html
2.8.2008 2:45pm
Benjamin P. Hayek (mail) (www):
Watch the entire speech, read the entire text. That was my point - not that anyone was lying. I don't know how anyone can come to Professor Kerr's conclusion without viewing that particular point in the speech in isolation. You know, in a clip or something, that is, exactly how it was quoted? Professor Kerr had a problem with Romney's comment, voiced them, and I defended Romney's comment. Argument is what this place is about. No need to react so rudely.
2.8.2008 5:19pm
Greg D (mail):
whatever Clinton's and Obama's possible faults may be, they surely aren't planning to "surrender to terror" or do anything close. (Even promptly withdrawing troops from Iraq, something I don't agree with, can't be fairly described as that.)


Um, we're at war with the terrorists in Iraq. The terrorists main goal is to drive us out of Iraq. Thus, pulling US troops out of Iraq would give the terrorists a victory.

Not only can it be fairly described that way, that's the only honest way to describe it.

They win, we lose. That's surrender. Esp. when it's happening because the Democrat President would be chosing it to happen.
2.8.2008 9:52pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Dilan, I don't know why you think that finding some blog post that expresses a similar opinion to yours constitutes "evidence."

The second post superficially seems to, but doesn't exactly look robust once one drills down. It references an "online poll" without any explanation of methodology, which seems to imply a non-scientific and therefore meaningless survey. And even there, all it says is that 32% of respondents -- who may or may not be voters at all -- said that Romney's religious beliefs would make it "less likely" they'd vote for him. "Less likely" does not mean "wouldn't." (Note that the Romney number isn't much different than the Rudy number, so to the extent these people are using religion as a factor, it appears to be that they want someone who shares their religious views, not that they have something against Mormons per se.)
2.9.2008 2:02am
Benjamin P. Hayek (mail) (www):
John McCain, yesterday:

"I guarantee you this: If we had announced a date for withdrawal from Iraq and withdrawn troops the way Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton want to do, al-Qaida would be celebrating that they defeated the United States of America and that we surrendered. I will never surrender."

Does anyone believe that McCain has now flown "over the top" as well?
2.9.2008 10:13am
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
Dilan Esper:

I do not understand how the first link you provide supports your thesis. It is more or less an opinion piece. The principal "evidence" relied on in it is an anecdote from an unidentified friend of the author; it does not provide any data let alone data analysis.

If anything, the opinion piece actually disregards the data (e.g., by suggesting that the only two GOP candidates competitive among religious conservatives were Romney and Huckabee, an assertion which we know isn't accurate based on the distribution of the vote among southern evangelicals on Super Tuesday). As you yourself previously noted, it was a three-way race.

The anecdote on which the opinion piece is founded is worth quoting on part. It begins:
I haven't seen any polls on the Mormon issue; but in listening to Huckabee supporters on TV and radio for the past month, it's clear that most of them have a profound distrust and often contempt for Romney, which makes it easy for me to assume that anti-Mormon sentiment plays at least some role--possibly a big role--in Huckabee's success.
To reiterate, my point has been and continues to be that you have not produced any genuine evidence that bigotry played a significant role in Romney's defeat. In response you have cited the preceding anecdote, which eschews data and explicitly is based on nothing more than assumption. So your reliance on this sort of "evidence" just reinforces my point.

Romney was an ineffective candidate, and religious conservatives had plenty of reasons other than his religion to distrust and dislike him and/or prefer Huckabee or McCain. In short, one can explain Romney's loss wholly without reference to his Mormonism. Perhaps, such an explanation is not an accurate or complete one. But I have not seen evidence that would indicate that such is the case.
2.9.2008 12:50pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
Dilan Esper:

As for your second link, I think that David Nieporent's criticisms above are on the mark. In addition to those criticisms, I'd note that even if one takes the online poll in question at face value 29.9 of the respondents described themselves as Democrats, 24.6% described themselves as Independents, and 4.7% described themselves as Other. None of the subsequent questions break down the responses by this self-described affiliation; so it's not possible to determine what GOP-affiliated or leaning evangelicals in particular believe about Romney or any other candidate from this online poll.
2.9.2008 1:16pm
Benjamin P. Hayek (mail) (www):
Being an honorable sort, if anyone is still concerned about this particular debate about whether Mitt Romney's speech was "over the top" or not, I stand corrected about one point:

MSNBC's David Shuster (who happens to be the reporter/commentator recently suspended for the "offensive" Chelsea Clinton remarks) evidently laughed at Mitt Romney's speech and declared it "over the top" on the air.

In any case, though, I still find it strange to complain about "over the top" political speeches, since that is basically what every politician does every single day (e.g., did anyone watch any of Hillary Clinton's remarks last night? I found it hard not to laugh out loud a number of times).
2.10.2008 9:15am