Despite leading in nationwide polls of Republican primary voters, 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney is facing strong opposition from the Republican Party's most energized faction-- the Tea Party movement. It may well be impossible to win the GOP's presidential nomination this election cycle without making some inroads into the Tea Party, but with Mitt Romney's record, it doesn't look like that's going to happen for him.
Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips wrote a scathing attack on Romney's record last week, touching on the issue that has most Tea Party supporters worried-- Mitt Romney's principles, or apparent lack thereof:
'Romney is a flip-flop. He could have written the line for John Kerry, “I was before it before I was against it.” He has flip-flopped on abortion, gay rights and socialist healthcare, just to name a few. Looking back at the 1994 debate between him and Senator Ted Kennedy, when Romney was trying to defeat Kennedy for reelection, it is hard to tell who is the more liberal.'
Phillips added that Romney's flip-flopping and big government record as governor of Massachusetts would likely lead to an Obama victory and Republican defeat in the 2012 general election:
'Few, if any in the Tea Party will support Romney, even if he is the nominee. Obama’s strategy in the election will be simple. He will replay all of Romney’s old liberal comments. Independents will come to the conclusion that either Romney is totally untrustworthy or he is simply the same as Obama.
The endless replay of Romney’s liberal comments will suppress an already depressed conservative base. The establishment may support Romney but no GOP candidate can win without getting the conservative base, the Tea Party actively involved.'
And in a recent interview with The Daily Caller, Matt Kibbe, President of leading Tea Party group, FreedomWorks, said that the Tea Party may sit out the general election if Mitt Romney or "another John McCain" is nominated, saying:
'I believe in redemption, but at some point, you sort of give up, and we’ve given up on Mitt Romney.'
The best Romney has been able to muster from major Tea Party leaders so far is Tea Party Express Co-Chairman Amy Kremer's recent statement that the Tea Party movement would support whatever candidate the Republicans nominate as a better alternative than Barack Obama-- even if it's Mitt Romney.
With most Tea Party groups saying they would oppose a Romney candidacy straight through a general election, it bodes ill for the former governor that only one Tea Party group would even support him against the Democrat, and that the best compliment he can muster from the movement is that at least he's not as bad as Barack Obama. And Kremer's statements actually touched off a controversy, with Tea Party Patriots founder Mark Meckler saying:
'We've heard little support for Romney in the movement as we interact daily with local coordinators and activists. We believe it's premature to say whether anyone would support him if he were the nominee, and anyone who says that Tea Partiers would support him is certainly not speaking for the movement at large.'
Despite Mitt Romney's massive fundraising ability and early leads in nationwide polls, his clear lack of support in a movement that more or less called the shots in the GOP's 2010 primaries should be considered a strong indication that during the general election season in 2012 we probably won't be hearing our television sets declare: "My name is Mitt Romney, and I approve this message."