At the recent GOP White Boy Conference in New Orleans, Romney won the straw poll although he didn’t even show up. Romney 439, Paul 438, Palin 330, Newt 321. Not bad. And neatly enough, of the four big vote-getters, three are at least seen as sane. The party leaders are clearly nervous about throwing too much meat to the teabaggers by pumping up Palin or Bachmann or some other loon.
Palin marches in to great fanfare…and comes in third, behind a no-show and a guy who is as much Libertarian as Republican. The party base, to include the all-important primary voters, love her, but the party leaders are afraid of her.
Huckabee just went public with his views that gays are like addicts and molesters, and shouldn’t be allowed to adopt children. Huckabee on same-sex marriage: “You don’t go ahead and accommodate every behavioral pattern that is against the ideal. That would be like saying, well, there are a lot of people who like to use drugs, so let’s go ahead and accommodate those who want who use drugs. There are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate them. There are people who believe in polygamy, so we should accommodate them.”
Huckabee on gay adoption: “I think this is not about trying to create statements for people who want to change the basic fundamental definitions of family. And always we should act in the best interest of the children, not in the seeming interest of the adults. Children are not puppies. This is not a time to see if we can experiment and find out, how does this work?”
So it’s sounding more like he really isn’t running – certainly he isn’t being careful with his words. This could be good for Romney, by removing a potential rival for 2012, but it could also be very bad for Romney, by uniting all the wingnuts behind Palin.
This next one is definitely good for Romney. Ron Paul on Republican foreign policy: “Conservatives spend money on different things. They like embassies, and they like occupation. They like the empire. They like to be in 135 countries and 700 bases. Don’t you think it’s rather conservative to say, ‘oh it’s good to follow the Constitution, oh, except for war. Let the President go to war anytime they want.’ …We can do better with peace than with war!”
So Paul clearly isn’t sucking up to the GOP base any more than Huckleberry is. However, if this is a prelude to Paul running in 2012 as a Libertarian, that could be disastrous for the GOP.
And then Newt. Something which Jon Chait pointed very recently: we ran John Edwards out of town on a rail for cheating on his wife, but Newt did it with two wives in a row. He told Wife 1 he wanted a divorce…while she was in hospital for cancer, just coming out of surgery. And the second time he cheated with a very young aide. And all this crap was going on while he was trying to harpoon Clinton for..infidelity. But he is still taken seriously as a presidential candidate. Perhaps because the Republicans are much more desperate for gravitas than the Democrats are? I mean, how low do you have to go before a guy like Newt counts as “gravitas”?
ADDENDUM -- apparently, Romney, Palin and Paul all had activists drumming up support. Romney's support, interestingly, came from some kind of evangelical group, so apparently all that Mormon-magic-underwear-liberal-health-care stuff is forgiven. The other interesting thing is that Newt was the one big vote getter who had no organization pumping for him. Hmm...