Now that the Republican primary is just about over, it’s important that we examine where Mitt Romney came from, where he went, and where he may be going. The moderate governor from Massachusetts who once touted a mandatory health insurance program, is now the same man who says things like “I was a severely republican governor” and “planned parent hood—I’m going to get rid of that.” It’s undeniable that the wave of intense conservatism that has swept across the country through tea party activists pushed Mitt Romney to the right, but how long can this charade last? Fred Bayles argues that Mitt Romney, like most candidates before him, will attempt to make a shift back towards the middle. However, I think that this will be uniquely difficult for the former Massachusetts governor.
If Mitt Romney attempts to move back towards the middle he runs two very dangerous risks. First, he risks isolating the very important conservative base, and next he will become a political chameleon. First, if Rick Santorum’s campaign proved anything, its that the tea party is real and that its here to stay. If Mitt Romney starts to throw around language of moderate fiscal and social policy, it is likely that he will isolate this very active, and financially vocal group of ideologues. Furthermore, if Mitt Romney starts to change his mind on key issues, he will inevitably be deemed a “flip-flopper” or a “chameleon”. In fact, Romney ran into a similar problem in his 1994 Senate campaign. When asked about his stance on abortion, Ted Kennedy described himself as “Pro-Choice”, but he said “My opponent is multiple choice.” The far right wing of the Republican Party is much more powerful and influential than it has been in the past. It may be in Mitt Romney’s best interest to remain farther to the right in order to avoid some of these potential risks. Unfortunately for centrist, there may be little room for Moderate Mitt in this general election.