Spin Cycle

11.08.11

A Scorched Earth Attack on Romney

A key blogger says he’d be a disaster—and lose badly

Erick Erickson is hardly a household name, but as founder of the influential conservative blog Red State, he has shaken the blogosphere with a no-holds-barred assault on Mitt Romney.

In a blistering post Tuesday, Erickson predicted that Romney will win the Republican nomination and “will be an utter disaster for conservatives as he takes the GOP down with him and burns up what it means to be a conservative in the process.” In a particularly stinging reference to the debacle surrounding a Supreme Court nomination in the Bush years, he called Romney “the Harriet Miers of 2012, only conservative because a few conservative grand pooh-bahs tell us Mitt Romney is conservative and for no other reason.”

Why, then, is Romney such a sure bet to capture the nomination? Because, says Erickson, the other candidates “are a pretty pathetic lot.”

By himself, Erickson is just an Atlanta-based blogger, and CNN commentator, who commands a small but loyal following. But his posting resonated—and got plenty of attention on Morning Joe—because it seemed to reflect, in admittedly harsh terms, a deep sense of conservative unease with Romney now that other alternatives (Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain) are so clearly struggling.

Erickson calls the former Massachusetts governor “a man devoid of any principles other than getting himself elected. As much as the American public does not like Barack Obama, they loath a man so fueled with ambition that he will say or do anything to get himself elected. Mitt Romney is that man.

“I’ve been reading the 200 pages of single spaced opposition research from the John McCain campaign on Mitt Romney. There is no issue I can find on which Mitt Romney has not taken both sides. He is neither liberal nor conservative. He is simply unprincipled. The man has no core beliefs other than in himself. You want him to be tough? He’ll be tough. You want him to be sensitive? He’ll be sensitive. You want him to be for killing the unborn? He’ll go all in on abortion rights until he wants to run for an office where it is not in his advantage.”

Erickson denigrates not just Romney but what he calls “the Washington GOP crowd who loves him,” saying neither has “very much at all in common with fly over country conservatives who see the GOP and Democrats both as out to lunch tools of K-Street and Wall Street.” Having trashed Perry, Cain and Newt Gingrich, he turns to the former Utah governor who has gotten little traction in this race: “I’m starting to think I need to walk it back on my rejection of Jon Huntsman.”

Meanwhile, another group of activists and pundits on the right, including gadfly operative Roger Stone, has launched a website called NotMittRomney.com. The site says “a Romney administration where the public is unaware of where he stands on the major issues of our time: fundamentally reforming entitlements and ending the bailouts (which he has said he is still for today).

“His timid rhetoric is not only distrusting, and a losing campaign strategy, but if he some how squeaks it out due to President Obama’s horrible job-record, we’ll have a White House that believes in little.”

Of course, as with the conservative grumbling about John McCain before he won the 2008 nomination, none of this may amount to anything more than group therapy. If Romney becomes the party’s standard-bearer, he may win over some of the detractors and, in a tough financial climate, could win the White House. But these online attacks underscore why he’s having trouble getting above 25 percent in a less than imposing field.