Conservative writer Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner argues that in order to keep Mitt Romney from abandoning his campaign promises, conservatives have to remain a thorn in his side.
In his new ebook, "Conservative Survival in the Romney Era," Klein delves into how conservatives can exploit Romney's "infamous calculating nature" to keep him running — and governing — from the right.
The reality is this: if conservatives listen to calls for them to shut up and get in line, it’s more likely that Romney’s calculus will factor in their energetic support as a constant, thus making him comfortable enough to move back toward the left. But if conservatives continue to play coy with Romney and openly criticize him when he lets them down, it’s more likely his calculus will treat their support as a variable, giving him more reason to campaign and govern as a conservative.
Klein says both Romney boosters and detractors err when trying to ascribe an ideological view-point to him — he's just out to do what is needed to win the election.
Romney’s political journey is a lot easier to comprehend once you stop trying to figure out whether, at heart, he’s a progressive, conservative, or something in between, and begin to realize that he’s been thinking like a business consultant the whole time. Before approaching a political campaign, Romney hires talented staffers, looks at data and seeks to position himself wherever there’s the most demand.
Klein says that calculating nature can work to the advantage of conservatives — as long as they make it clear they're not going to sit idly by as he runs to the center.
Among conservatives, Klein writes, there is little expectation that Romney will be different than Bush — who abandoned his commitment to small government early in his first term. Klein says social media will serve as an effective check on Romney, if he ever strays from party orthodoxy.
In the early days of the Bush presidency, the conservative blogosphere was still in its infancy and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter didn’t even exist. Yet now, at the slightest sign Romney is backing away from pledges he made while seeking the Republican nomination, conservatives can quickly mobilize opposition and apply pressure on him and their representatives.”
Klein's book vents the frustrations of many conservative thinkers, who openly doubt whether Romney believes the things he said to win the Republican primary. The only language Romney understands is math — and they intend to hold their support over him like a sword in order to keep him in line.
What remains an open question is whether Romney can wina general election that will come down to a few hundred thousand independent votes across the swing states if he's constantly in fear of upsetting the conservatives in his own party.