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Post Partisan
Posted at 12:55 PM ET, 12/14/2011

Mitt Romney bewitched by conservative suspicion


Just before I went on the air last night to discuss the demise of the Trump debate, the political world was rocked. Christine O’Donnell, the 2010 Republican candidate for the Senate from Delaware, who famously declared she was not a witch but who was shellacked by 17 points in the general election by Chris Coons (D), had just endorsed Mitt Romney. What was more interesting and indicative of Romney’s plight was how quickly he embraced O’Donnell’s nod and what he said in doing so. Romney’s statement read like a hostage note.

“Christine has been a leader in the conservative movement for many years,” said Mitt Romney. “Christine recognizes that excessive government threatens us now and threatens future generations, and I am pleased to have her on my team.” Translation: Help me!

Why Romney is wrapping himself in a bear hug with O’Donnell, the Tea Party darling who beat the party-endorsed candidate, Mike Castle, by six points (53 to 47), was made plain by the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last night. Conservatives, who are the energy and the base of the Republican Party, don’t think Romney is a conservative. “Thinking about their general approach to issues,” the poll asks on page 23, “do you consider [INSERT NAME] to be liberal, moderate, or conservative?” Current front-runner Newt Gingrich was seen as a conservative by 57 percent of the respondents. Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) was viewed as a conservative by 48 percent. But only 29 percent viewed Romney the same way.

This national poll ominously reflects something I highlighted earlier this week in the NBC News/Marist poll of likely Florida Republican primary voters. Just 23 percent of them think Romney is a conservative. On the flip side, 66 percent of them view the former Massachusetts governor as moderate to liberal. In the national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, he is viewed as moderate to very liberal by 64 percent of those surveyed.

This is all very ominous for Romney but not terribly surprising. His ideological promiscuity is widely known. And to further sow the seeds of doubt, the Democratic National Committee’s whichmitt.com put out this doozy of an ad.

I think people recognize that I’m not a partisan Republican, that I’m someone who is moderate, and that my views are progressive.

“It is my hope that my endorsement of Gov. Mitt Romney will cause others to give him a second look,” wrote O’Donnell in her statement. “I have traveled the country and had countless conversations with conservative voters and it is clear to me that many are making judgments about Gov. Romney based on misinformation about his record. For me, this endorsement comes down to trust. I am endorsing Gov. Romney because I trust him to do the right thing.”

As the polls painfully show, not many folks are inclined to believe her.

By  |  12:55 PM ET, 12/14/2011

 
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