In my column for the National Post, I explain why Mitt Romney accepted Donald Trump's endorsement:
Why would a dignified person like Mitt Romney stand alongside Donald Trump on a Las Vegas stage? Conceded: politicians have to kiss their share of ugly babies. But this?
To understand the joint Romney-Trump show, you have to understand the agonizing dynamic of this year’s Republican race.
Since 2006, Mitt Romney has built a national presidential campaign of awesome reach. He’s got the endorsements, he’s got the cash, he’s got George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush behind him. In a more normal election year — such as 1996, when Bob Dole gained the nomination with a very similar campaign — Romney would have assembled all the elements for a big win.
But the 2008-2012 cycle has been anything but normal. The party elites who normally exert such sway inside the GOP have been discredited in the minds of the party rank-and-file.
The rank-and-file were disappointed in the Bush presidency, both ideologically (not right-wing enough) and practically (not successful enough). Rank-and-file Republicans also were hit by the housing crash and the financial crisis. They lost jobs and businesses. They feel qualms and doubts about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As rarely in party history, therefore, the Republican rank-and-file rejected elite leadership after 2008. And when that leadership seemed to be converging upon Mitt Romney, the rank-and-file mutinied altogether.
If any one thing united the party rank-and-file, it was their anger at Barack Obama’s health-care plan, a plan that cut Medicare (for the elderly) and raised taxes (on the affluent) to finance new benefits for the uninsured (27% of them immigrants). The old and the affluent are Republican constituencies; immigrants are not.
“Repeal Obamacare” is the first demand of Republican voters. And Obamacare of course was modelled on the health-care plan Mitt Romney enacted in Massachusetts as governor of Massachusetts.
To imagine how Republican voters feel, you have to imagine this. It’s 1972. Democrats have passionately rallied against Richard Nixon and his Vietnam War policies. And Democratic party elites coalesce to nominate … Robert MacNamara, the secretary of defence who directed the Vietnam War under Democratic presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. A lot to swallow!