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November 08, 2011 9:35 AM The limits of the ‘Not Mitt Romney’ campaign

By Steve Benen

It makes sense for conservative critics of Mitt Romney’s campaign to get organized, but this initiative needs some work.

A coalition of conservatives have launched a campaign against Republican front-runner Mitt Romney’s candidacy to prevent him from becoming the GOP nominee next year.

The group’s website, NotMittRomney.com, already features a web ad against the former Massachusetts governor — and they plan more “aggressive” steps in the coming months.

The website offers this dire prediction if Romney were to become the Republican choice to face President Barack Obama in 2012 — though most members of the group say they would support Romney against Obama if it came to that.

Organizers, in explaining the purpose of the “Not Mitt Romney” campaign, argue that because of the candidate’s lack of core principles, Republicans will “have a White House that believes in little” if Romney “some how [sic] squeaks it out.” They added that a Romney nomination will produce a Republican Party “split at the seems [sic].”

The campaign features some fairly prominent right-wing voices, including GOP activists, operatives, and media figures. The names that jump out include Pamela Geller, Roger Stone Jr Robert Stacy McCain, and Matt Mackowiak, led by a conservative public-relations professional Ali Akbar.

I can understand their dissatisfaction with the Republican frontrunner, and I can also understand their willingness to get organized in opposition to Romney. What makes less sense to me is the underlying strategy — Republican voters are going to nominate the party’s presidential candidate, and “Not Mitt Romney” won’t be on the ballot. If these right-wing players want to stop Romney from winning the GOP nod, they’re going to have pick an alternative.

Whether they like it or not, the party’s non-Romney wing is already huge — polls show the former Massachusetts governor struggling to get past the mid-20s nationwide, suggesting roughly three out of four Republican voters either already support someone else or remain undecided.

The trick is, Romney is in an eight-way contest, and he’s fully capable of winning the nomination despite having such weak party-wide support. The task for his GOP detractors, then, isn’t to point out his flaws, it’s to elect someone else. “Not Mitt Romney” isn’t, and can’t be, the goal; nominating one of his rivals is.

As Alex Pareene put it, “If the people behind ‘Not Mitt Romney’ actually cared about electing someone other than Mitt Romney, shouldn’t they actually be devoting their time and resources to campaigning for a non-Mitt Romney candidate? Because otherwise, all their campaign does is reinforce the message that while Mitt Romney is flawed, he has no credible competition.”

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

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  • sick-n-effn-tired. on November 08, 2011 9:43 AM:

    The Irony is of course that there is no place among the teabagguers for sensible. They have been living in the Faux Alt world for so long they can no longer discern reality.They are the equivalent of a street person who listens to and responds to the voices in his head.

  • g on November 08, 2011 9:45 AM:

    They are the essence of the nihilism of the Republican party now. No candidate is the logical extension of their not-governing.

  • m on November 08, 2011 9:51 AM:

    NotMittRomney? How about, "None of the Above"? They could even sell the movie rights. Oh, wait...

  • walt on November 08, 2011 9:52 AM:

    The animatronic Romney may disappoint as a culture warrior/zealot but he succeeds where it counts - he's rich, white, and square. Ironically, that's really what the anti-Romney people want - someone very conservative who excels at those right-wing identity markers. Romney's deficits are minor by comparison. He's disliked for his pragmatism, it seems, but then why aren't Santorum and Bachmann loved for being ideologically crazy? Right-wingers are perpetual purists. Romney's real problem is that he's too sane for them.

  • Danp on November 08, 2011 9:54 AM:

    split at the seems

    Translation: Detatched from even the perception of reality.

  • c u n d gulag on November 08, 2011 9:57 AM:

    It's real name should be "Anybody But Obama!"

    Or, "Anybody But a Democrat!"

    Those, after all, are the goals.

  • BetweenTheLines on November 08, 2011 9:57 AM:

    The task for his GOP detractors, then, isn't to point out his flaws, it's to elect someone else.

    I'd just like to say a word to this group-

    Please, as a card carry'in librul, don't elect Herman Cain. Nobody makes us quake in fear as much as a black conservative with corporate credentials. I know the libral media is out to "get him" right now, but if you hold fast, all us racist librals who vote based on the color of skin won't know who to select in a general election. The advantage would clearly be with the party who's conservatively ideology so well matches the real America. So please! Anybody but Herman.

  • chopin on November 08, 2011 9:57 AM:

    News Flash: Mitt Romney IS flawed and there is NO credible competition. Duh.

  • Prup (aka Jim Benton) on November 08, 2011 9:59 AM:

    You forget, Steve, that conventions were originally designed to pick the candidates, not just to ratify the primaries' choice. (I am even one of the few people who saw the 1952 Republican convention -- okay, I was 6 at the time.)

    I could see a strategy of running 'favorite sons' and supporting whichever 'non-Romney' is strongest in a given state, and then deciding on the nominee at the Convention. (Hey, it's more 'modern' than Legislatures electing Senators, something a number of Republicans have no problem.)

    That way someone not running now could get the nod. If it isn't Huckabee -- who could still win hands down if he entered now and is the only candidate who could -- I'd make a wild guess at either Eric Cantor or Bob McDonnell of Virginia.

  • jrosen on November 08, 2011 10:02 AM:

    The level of literacy in the qwotes (sic!) is on the same level as the economic and political understanding: that of a somewhat retarded 7th grader.

    Yes, BetweenTheLines, don't throw me into that briar patch!

  • biggerbox on November 08, 2011 10:05 AM:

    I'm beginning to feel a little sorry for the Mittster.

    I mean, here he's been, polishing his resume and running for years, trying to please everybody, and he wakes up everyday with the knowledge that, after all that work, he's tied in the polls with a clowning pizza maker who's not only black but also involved in a sexual harassment scandal. It must be hard on one's self-image to realize that a man who was considered a joke a few months ago has a better chance than you.

    Even his fellow Mormon Huntsman is slamming Mitt hard, and now these people start piling on? Sheesh.

    Face it, Mitt. They're just not that into you. Hold on to a little dignity and go home.

  • DAY on November 08, 2011 10:06 AM:

    An interesting task might be to sniff out the money involved in this "not Mitt" activity. As in, where is it coming from, and where is it going?

  • zeitgeist on November 08, 2011 10:06 AM:

    of course, just to give you an idea of how totally hate-addicted the present day rightwing is. . .

    this group ran an op-ed in the Des Moines Register a few days ago. the Register has online comments available and one of the very first was a woman, allegedly conservative, attacking the op-ed because the author's name is Ali Akbar.

    Oh yeah. The purity tests are getting intense on that side of the aisle. On this side, I'll take some pocorn, please.

  • T2 on November 08, 2011 10:13 AM:

    This is what happens when you let crazy people take over a Party.

  • Danp on November 08, 2011 10:18 AM:

    allegedly conservative, attacking the op-ed because the author's name is Ali Akbar.

    I rather assumed Ali Akbar was a hate-filled pseudonym.

  • gelfling545 on November 08, 2011 10:20 AM:

    Could this be some elaborate charade to make independent voters think that the less reality-based element in the Republican party doesn't want Romney so it is therefore safe to vote for him? Probably not but it does give one furiously to think.

  • MAE on November 08, 2011 10:23 AM:

    The real irony is that all the Republican candidates, Romney and all the Not Romneys, are competing with each other for the chance to run as Not Obama.

  • T-Rex on November 08, 2011 10:25 AM:

    They'll split at the "seems," all right, when reality finally crashes into their fantasy world.

    What ever became of the term "seven dwarfs," which Republicans always trot out whenever Democrats have a large field of candidates? Never has it been more apt than for the would-be NotMittRomneys. Democrats have got to learn to give as good as they get!

  • victory on November 08, 2011 10:31 AM:

    The "man behind the curtain", if-you-will, of this movement, paying for all of it, is none other than Montgomery Brewster.

  • nemisten on November 08, 2011 10:34 AM:

    Agree with comments BUT, why is everyone in essence helping the kooky GOP by pointing out how kooky their actions are?

    Please, everyone, let them trash Mittens; let them fawn over Herm, and Perry, and all their kooky candidates. It's a bloodbath we need to ENCOURAGE -- not stop. C'mon!

  • chi res on November 08, 2011 10:38 AM:

    Republicans will “have a White House that believes in little” if Romney “some how [sic] squeaks it out.” They added that a Romney nomination will produce a Republican Party “split at the seems [sic].”

    ...led by a conservative public-relations professional Ali Akbar.

    "Professional"?? Really???

  • Michael on November 08, 2011 10:39 AM:

    The names that jump out include Pamela Geller, Roger Stone Jr Robert Stacy McCain, and Matt Mackowiak, led by a conservative public-relations professional Ali Akbar.

    That's a pretty (sic) group

  • OKDem on November 08, 2011 10:39 AM:

    Yes, there are 8 opponents but only one needs edge out Willard in each of 52 primaries and caucuses [for the trolls, yes in the Democratic party it is 56!]. As we have seen all year there can be fortnightly different "Not Romney" candidates. There just needs to be one on primary day in that particular state.

    The allocation of delegates this year is proportional in most Republican primaries, not the traditional winner take all. Even if Romney ekes out a 30% "win" in a primary, he will likely lose many congressional districts. This means Mittens wins in delegate rich states like California, Florida [halved] and New York less decisive, if he can get a plurality at all. Texas will go to Perry heavily and Georgia likely to Gingrich; favorite sons will play a part this election.

    There are the equivalent of super delegates but those are now largely teahadists who hate Romney.

    Can someone win the nomination who will likely not have received over a third of the votes, who may not have polled a majority in any state, who will likely not have a majority of the delegates locked by the convention?

    I look forward to the floor fights and brokered nomination of Jeb Bush.

  • beejeez on November 08, 2011 10:43 AM:

    "Because otherwise, all their campaign does is reinforce the message that while Mitt Romney is flawed, he has no credible competition.”

    Well, you gotta give 'em points for honesty.

  • threegoal on November 08, 2011 11:21 AM:

    "Not Mitt Romney" WILL be on the general election ballot in November 2012. He will otherwise be known as "Barack Obama".

  • Stephen Stralka on November 08, 2011 11:43 AM:

    Yes, the most inspiring presidential candidate to come along in generations: Someone Else!

    Although he/she might have some serious competition if Godot ever decides to enter the race. Not to mention that other potential dark horse, Sir Not Appearing In This Film.

  • Stephen Stralka on November 08, 2011 11:47 AM:

    Although, come to think of it, if they're looking to nominate someone who doesn't actually exist, what better choice than Mitt Romney?

  • low-tech cyclist on November 08, 2011 12:14 PM:

    Maybe the GOP should say, "f*** it, let's just not nominate anybody this cycle," and cancel the primaries.

    And what T-Rex said about the Seven Dwarfs.

  • RT on November 08, 2011 1:04 PM:

    "Maybe the GOP should say, 'f*** it, let's just not nominate anybody this cycle,' and cancel the primaries."

    Heh. I wonder how many in the GOP establishment are trying to appear they're not just going through the motions in 2012, knowing they're better off having Obama save the country for another four years before they can loot it again.

  • zandru on November 08, 2011 2:27 PM:

    Cool. Remember the old saying When you see your enemy is hanging himself, don't get in the way? It's all nice and academic for Mr Benen to notice and comment on the "Anyone but Mitt" movement - just don't try to "help" them.

    As Captcha so wisely observes, it's operation ludscr - shhhh!

  • Barry on November 09, 2011 7:07 AM:

    OKDem on November 08, 2011 10:39 AM:

    " The allocation of delegates this year is proportional in most Republican primaries, not the traditional winner take all. Even if Romney ekes out a 30% "win" in a primary, he will likely lose many congressional districts. This means Mittens wins in delegate rich states like California, Florida [halved] and New York less decisive, if he can get a plurality at all. Texas will go to Perry heavily and Georgia likely to Gingrich; favorite sons will play a part this election."

    Georgia isn't going for Gingrich, even assuming that he's still in the race by then (once he has to put staff on the ground in a bunch of states, his scam will turn unprofitable). In Texas, last I heard Perry's numbers are in the mud.


    " Can someone win the nomination who will likely not have received over a third of the votes, who may not have polled a majority in any state, who will likely not have a majority of the delegates locked by the convention?"

    My guess is that he'll have a majority; the money boys will be leaning hard on people, and Romney has the cash to run campaigns in real states.

    "I look forward to the floor fights and brokered nomination of Jeb Bush."

    That would be fun.

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