Governor Mitt Romney: “Going 2 and O” — Integrity Matters

As a serious amateur photographer, I love this image below. Every photo tells a story. This photograph was made last night in Iowa prior to the Edith and Carolyn moment on CNN and when Santorum was still showing at number one — does it get any better than this? By the way, CNN blew the socks off FOX for professional coverage last night; FOX failed.

A note to Michele Bachmann: You fought a great fight and in my opinion, your work ethic and determination were second to none and certainly as impressive as Santorum’s. He edged you out by getting all the preachers to tell their members to support him. We welcome all your supporters here with big hugs. And congratulations to Senator Santorum!

Stars

Three days ago, Greg Stapley posted this editorial on MRC. Greg is a friend; he is a businessman from Orange County, California and he wrote the following, new guest post while on vacation today (writing about GMR is cathartic!):

To get to the White House, you have to win twice.

There’s an old saying in presidential politics. It holds that in order to win the party’s nomination, candidates must “run to the right” in the primaries (or to the left if you’re a Dem). But to then win the general, the candidate must make a self-contorting and often-implausible leap “to the center.”

It’s a tacit acknowledgment of the power of moderates, independents and other swing voters in determining the winner of the ultimate prize: the Presidency.

It’s also a fundamentally dishonest tactic, but one that many jaded voters on both sides seem to accept. The end justifies the means, they reason.

The Left has just re-learned it the hard way. Sure, in the last election a lot of the then-newly-invigorated liberal base took Savior Obama at his word when he said he’d do things like close Guantánamo and end waterboarding.

It didn’t occur to them that he had said these things just to get elected, with either no understanding of their ramifications and/or no intention of fulfilling those promises.

And they are hopping mad with him now, but he’s in office and they’re not running a primary challenger against him, so what did it really cost him? You can take this to the bank: happy or not, his base will be voting for him again in 2012, even if they have to hold their noses while they do it.

And the folks he won in the middle? Well, for the most part those weren’t their issues anyway, so he’ll be saying and doing whatever his pollsters, focus-groupers and other zillion-dollar consultants tell him it will take to woo them (some would say “fool them”) again.

Republicans should learn from that experience – but not in the way one might think. Our guy should not be “that guy” – the one who’s willing to lie to the primary electorate or lie to the general electorate – just to win twice. Either way, as Republicans we would have put forth a willing liar to represent us and, last I checked, that wasn’t at all consistent with conservative values.

But isn’t that what we require when we, as committed conservatives, cling to purist notions of what our nominee must look and sound like?

Enter the current Republican field, with nearly everybody claiming to be the “One-True-Reagan-Conservative” on the ballot (assuming they were organized enough to actually get on the ballot, but that’s another topic). He is invoked so often, so cavalierly, and by at least a couple of candidates who are so far from what he was and what he still stands for, that one wonders whether poor Mr. Reagan might be spinning in his grave somewhere.

Here’s the hard question for these clamoring contenders in their breakneck race to the right: do they really think the Obama camp is not meticulously recording every single word they say or publish about themselves; about how far-right they are, how much change they would bring and how disruptive they would be? Do they honestly think that after running hard right during the primaries they can suddenly shift gears, reinvent themselves and convince the broader electorate that they’re not really as far out there as essential swing voters might fear they would be?

No doubt the Obama Machine is crossing its collective fingers, toes and anything else they’ve got in hopes that the Republicans will continue to try to “out-conservative” each other. And they will have a full dossier of “crazy right” things on nearly every candidate that they will trot out to scare moderates and independents come the general election. Ironically, if such statements exist, it will have been the candidates themselves who handed Obama these clubs to beat them with.

With all of this going on, it would seem imperative for at least one candidate to rise above the fray and keep his eyes firmly focused on the ultimate prize: a win in the general. And one would expect such a candidate to draw some unwelcome speculation about the reliability of his conservative principles from the primary electorate as he speaks a slightly different language than the one we conservatives are used to – that comes with the territory.

Granted, it’s a bold and risky move, and one that could only be entertained by a candidate who is as confident of his organization and base as he is committed to being an honest person and running an honest campaign. Hold it — make that TWO honest campaigns.

Trust matters, character matters, and the means by which the Office is won matters.

As conservatives, we each want to see a Republican candidate ultimately take office who reflects our particular views and values. With some collective introspection, however, we quickly realize that we are a diverse group with some marked differences, and no one perfect candidate exists for all of us. And so we come together to find the one who best represents us all, AND who can carry the Republican banner all the way to the finish line for us.

As we winnow the field, I would suggest that integrity must be an absolute prerequisite for any candidate to merit our support. I’m not talking about honest mistakes, minor slipups or even a candidate’s views that have evolved over time. And I’m certainly not talking about anything put out by independent PACs on a candidate’s behalf. But the candidates have to be honest, not just when they are “in the family” with us, but with everyone to whom they hope to appeal in winning the Presidency.

I’m talking about real honesty, past, present and future. And that means integrity in the way the candidate intends to conduct BOTH campaigns, not just his primary bid.

Do any of us think that Newt, the Ricks, Dr. Ron or any other self-avowed uber-conservative could win the general by being the exact same person and saying the exact same things they are saying to primary voters now? If not, who will they be and what will they say, if and when they come to that critical crossroads?
If they are willing to change their stripes after winning the nomination so that they can contend in the general, will the broader electorate buy it, with the billion-dollar Obama machine reminding everyone constantly of where the candidate stood on this issue or that just a few short weeks earlier?

Even if they do win, what are the chances that someone who will “say anything” will foist an Obama-style “empty presidency” upon us for the next four years, and then fumble the White House back to the Liberals?
While the Romney Campaign must take all of the contenders, every state primary and every single voter seriously from now until the Convention, we as conservative voters need to focus a little farther out and see the Big Picture.

And we need to appreciate a conservative candidate who has learned to speak to a broader audience in a way which appeals to many different but very important fellow Americans whom we will need in our corner to see this through, even though the exact words may not sound as friendly and familiar to us in the conservative family as we would like.

Words are only as good as the person saying them. A candidate’s statement that he is “an authentic conservative” doesn’t necessarily make it so. Nor does invoking Reagan, using traditionalist buzzwords, or engaging in other forms of right-speak in a primary necessarily tell us who a candidate really is. They might just be “being smart.”

By the same token, a candidate’s refusal to alienate the broader electorate by declining to speak in eventually-polarizing terms doesn’t necessarily make them a non-conservative. It actually IS smart, albeit a little risky vis-à-vis us in the base.

More importantly, it is an indication that the candidate actually IS who he says he is, and can be trusted to DO exactly what he has said he will do – now, during the general election and ultimately in office.

Much has been said in this election about who is the “smartest guy in the room.” For me, its’ no contest – the smartest guy is the one who is bright enough not only to tell ALL voters the truth about himself, but who is also smart enough to know that he can’t have it both ways come the general.

That candidate is Mitt Romney, who is running a masterful primary campaign, while keeping his eye on the ultimate prize. He’s not looking past the primaries, and he’ll never claim to be perfect, but he’s doing a far better job than anyone of preparing himself for the championship game – and that counts. Big.

Only Mitt can go 2-0 in this contest. As conservatives and Americans, let’s celebrate his well-deserved appeal across the broader political spectrum during these primaries, and make sure he’s on the field for the Big Game.

by Greg Stapley

(emphasis added by Lundquist)

“You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him.” — Leo Aikman

“You can tell the character of every man when you see how he receives praise.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca

About Victor Lundquist:

Victor is a businessman working in the healthcare industry. He and his wife of 33 years have five children and four grandchildren. Vic has been blogging for Mitt Romney since 2007.
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4 Responses to Governor Mitt Romney: “Going 2 and O” — Integrity Matters

  1. Crystalf says:

    Thanks for sharing Vic — great comments re: the photo — while in the chatroom last night, this scene was shown on Fox (most of us were watching) & I made the same comment about “the hug” - so warm & authentic (& the look of their son watching proudly on). Nice article by Greg - the fact that Mitt carried Iowa on his electibility reassures me that people are recognizing what Greg is stating in his article .. that makes me feel good. And yes, in watching CNN, MSNBC & Fox last night — Fox was definitely a #FAIL.

  2. Crystalf says:

    … hit the “submit” too quick … Fox’s ONLY SAVING GRACE was Karl Rove(!!!) Thank goodness for his brief moments during the broadcast to bring some level-headed sanity to their show.

  3. Mark in Cali says:

    Great post Vic and great piece Greg. yes very surprised by Fox fail compared to CNN last night.

  4. Dianne says:

    Great article and love the picture. Mitt and Ann have a very compelling love affair with Ann as a secret weapon, his focus on the economy, and Mitt’s love for this country will help bring in more and more Americans.
    Love all the articles that Vic writes. Keep them coming.