Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 17, 2011

DEMINT'S OFFICE RUINS ROMNEY'S DAY.... Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), arguably the Senate's most right-wing member, endorsed Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in 2008. I guess that's not going to happen again.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) "would never consider" endorsing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president again in 2012 unless Romney repudiates the health reforms he sought as governor, a source close to DeMint said Thursday.

A source close to the conservative icon emphasized that, despite comments to The Hill indicating that Romney shouldn't shoulder all the political blame for the Massachusetts healthcare plan, DeMint wouldn't endorse Romney again unless Romney were to admit the plan was mistaken.

"It's obvious Jim was just trying to be nice to the guy he backed over McCain, as many conservatives did in 2008," said the source. "But he would never consider backing Romney again unless he admits that his Massachusetts health care plan was a colossal mistake."

There's a lot of this going around. Mike Huckabee wants Romney to apologize for his only major policy accomplishment; Rudy Giuliani is urging him to reverse course; Karl Rove wants Romney to admit he was wrong; and prominent conservative activists throughout the GOP base are demanding that he "acknowledge he made a mistake."

DeMint, however, is of particular interest. In 2008, the South Carolinian was largely unknown. In 2011, he's a far-right kingmaker with a political operation so large, it may rival the NRSC's next year. DeMint's presidential endorsement will be one of the most widely-sought in the entire party next year.

In fairness to Romney, if DeMint really is waiting for the former governor to "admit" his health care policy was a "colossal mistake," it makes DeMint look worse than Romney. After all, Romney's health care policy was already complete and in place when DeMint endorsed his presidential campaign. In the years since, the policy has worked extremely well. If it was a "colossal mistake," why didn't DeMint notice three years ago? Did DeMint not look into this before making his endorsement?

We know the truth -- DeMint doesn't like "RomneyCare" because of its striking similarities to the Affordable Care Act -- but that doesn't make it any less foolish.

For the record, there's simply no way for Romney to do as the far-right asks. It's simply too late.

It was Romney's signature accomplishment during his one term as governor -- his only experience in public office. It demonstrated his ability to tackle major policy challenges and work with members of both parties to pass a sensible, mainstream legislative milestone. It was the sort of thing a governor could build a presidential campaign around.

Just a few weeks ago, Romney's spokesperson said, "Mitt Romney is proud of what he accomplished for Massachusetts in getting everyone covered."

Of course he is, and he should be, but reality has surprisingly little value in GOP politics in the 21st century.

Romney has flip-flopped on practically every issue imaginable, but the one position he has to stick to is the one Republicans find wholly unacceptable.

Update: Greg Sargent turns up a gem, noting that DeMint praised Romney's record on health care when he endorsed the governor in '08. Indeed, as far as DeMint was concerned at the time, the Massachusetts law was based on "good conservative ideas."

In 2008, this made perfect sense -- remember, the indidivual mandate, which now causes hysterical breakdowns in GOP circles was a Republican idea -- and wasn't the least bit controversial. In 2011, it's apparently a different story.

Steve Benen 3:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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In 2008, the South Carolinian was largely unknown. In 2011, he's a far-right kingmaker with a political operation so large, it may rival the NRSC's next year.

And he hasn't done one damn thing for his state. But we're dumb enough to keep electing him, so we deserve what we get.

Posted by: kc on March 17, 2011 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Pence, now DeMint....last week Sununu, the list of "Right Wing Insane/Moronic Kingmakers" keeps growing. Soon there will be more Kingmakers than potential Kings. I'll say it again, this Republican presidential primary will be the funniest, most preposterous event in the annals of American politics.

Posted by: T2 on March 17, 2011 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Refudiate" your Father.
"Refudiate" your Mother.
"Refudiate" your religion.
"Refudiate" your greatest (only) accomplishment as an elected politician.

Run on buying up companies and firing and laying off shitloads of people!
That's a WINNER!

Poor, Mittens.
A man with plenty of money.
But, a man out of his time.
"Refudiate" it all, and try again. But that "Mormon" thing will keep you back every time, you poor sap.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 17, 2011 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

wow, that was fast. cleaned up before i could even comment....

Posted by: just bill on March 17, 2011 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, I get they don't like federal health care reform, but aren't they supposed to be pro-states' rights? Can't Romney say "I'm proud of this because its what the people of Massachusetts wanted, but think all states can decide for themselves and the feds should stay out of it."

Sure the tea partiers won't be swayed from this because it involves the government doing something other than arresting minorities, but Federalism has always been a strong theme among the GOP base.

Posted by: annoyed liberal on March 17, 2011 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Republican motto: Let no good deed go unpunished!

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on March 17, 2011 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

They are drunk with their 'percieved' power. They could've saved kittens and Karl Rove etal. would be asking him to 'refudiate' it. They are lying hypocrites and it is WAY PAST TIME for America to stand up and call them on it.

Posted by: SYSPROG on March 17, 2011 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Massachusetts has the most effective health care program in the country. It could be the beginning of sanity in the republican party if Romney were to embrace his accomplishment there and try to sell its appeal to the rest of the party. However I think it's too late; too many republicans have consumed the Kool-aid and are immune to reason.

Posted by: wordtypist on March 17, 2011 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

@T2...make that "anals" of American politics and I'll agree with you 100%!

Posted by: whichwitch on March 17, 2011 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

They are all attacking Romney because he is perceived as the strongest candidate by the Right, Far Right, and GuanoNutz.

In their heart of hearts they know 'candidates' like Bachmann, Palin, Newt, et al, haven't a snowball's chance, but they don't want a coronation before the primaries even begin.

The foaming at the mouth crowd is 20%, if that, of the electorate, and the only chance a Republican has is to run a centrist campaign, attracting the Independant vote with, thoughtful Reason and Competence.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, the one candidate even remotely displaying those attributes is currently POTUS.

Posted by: DAY on March 17, 2011 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what DeMint said about RomneyCare in his endorsement letter before the '08 elections:

"He knows that doing the right thing means that every American must have access to quality healthcare. He passed such a plan as Governor and would support other innovative state and federal solutions, rejecting an unworkable “one-size-fits-all” approach. I support Governor Romney because he believes all Americans should have a health plan that they can afford, own and keep."

Now it's apparently a "colossal mistake."

Posted by: Sam on March 17, 2011 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

At this point Romney needs to own his health care plan and focus on making an electability argument to the Republican primary voter.

Posted by: Archon on March 17, 2011 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, the GOP primaries next year are going to be quite a clown show. Entertainment values aside, I think the only real question is whether there is anyone who could both win the Republican nomination and defeat Obama in the general election. It seems unlikely.

Posted by: Stephen Stralka on March 17, 2011 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

"whether there is anyone who could both win the Republican nomination and defeat Obama in the general election."
Well Mr. Stralka, that is a good point. From where I stand, I'm wondering if anyone of them can even win the nomination...by that I mean that there could easily be a dozen or more of the morons that actually seek it, making the choice very hard for the dim-witt TeaParty bunch....duh..Sarah's perty but Newt's real smart and Huckabee is a preacher man....
I can easily see a situation where the convention finds 7-8 "candidates" stuck with about 14% each. Then it would be the Koch Bros vs. the TeaParty in a cage match to end all cage matches. In rides Rick Perry.

Posted by: T2 on March 17, 2011 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that Jim DeMint is now a "kingmaker" in the GOP primaries makes me even more confident that the GOP is going to nominate some batshit, unelectable lunatic for President next year. Anyone with even a smidge of moderation will be decreed unacceptable by King Jimmy.

Posted by: gf120581 on March 17, 2011 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Probably goes without saying, but refudiating his RomneyCare signature is a total non-starter. If it was a bad idea, why did he sign it in the first place? To prevent something worse from being passed? But those who would give up liberty for security deserve neither! (would come the reply from the Bachmann wing of the party)

Bottom line, Romney has no answer for those questions, whichever way he tries to pivot.

Posted by: kth on March 17, 2011 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK



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