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Monday, November 5, 2012

The looming GOP civil war

“If I hear anybody say it was because Romney wasn’t conservative enough I’m going to go nuts,” said Graham. “We’re not losing 95 percent of African-Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics and voters under 30 because we’re not being hard-ass enough.”

As reported in the Politico article, The looming GOP civil war -- whether Mitt wins or not:

This split will loom over the GOP for the next few years whether Romney is in the White House or on the beaches of La Jolla. If he becomes the 45th president in January, Romney will have to tread carefully as he grapples with a conservative-dominated Republican House, a Senate GOP increasingly divided between old bulls and younger true believers and thousands of party activists who opposed him in two presidential primaries.

“He’ll have half the party watching him every morning,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, calling the House GOP “the bedrock he’ll have to maneuver around.”

A Romney loss would mean the same internal issues would come to the fore more quickly and explosively but with no clear leader at the top of the party. Consider all the voices who’d jockey for attention: the pragmatic Senate and House GOP leadership; next-generation stars like Rubio and Paul Ryan; older reformers led by Jeb Bush; conservative stalwarts like Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky ; and the talent-rich ranks of current Republican governors. These forces would all assert their authority in the lead-up to what could be a sprawling 2016 presidential primary that renders a judgment on which direction the party will take.
The fault lines are already clear: True-believers will say, see, this is what happens when you nominate moderates — John McCain lost in 2008 and Romney lost in 2012 because they couldn’t or wouldn’t make the case for conservatism.

“Structurally, a Romney loss, following a McCain loss, would be a rebuke to moderates who have wanted ideological conservatives to fill the bus but not drive the bus,” said a GOP operative close to one sure-fire future presidential aspirant. “The nominee in 2016, if he is not a President Romney, will certainly be a card-carrying movement conservative with a track record to match.”
The pragmatists will howl at this and point to the underlying issues in the electorate.

“If I hear anybody say it was because Romney wasn’t conservative enough I’m going to go nuts,” said Graham. “We’re not losing 95 percent of African-Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics and voters under 30 because we’re not being hard-ass enough.”

Of the party’s reliance on a shrinking pool of white men, one former top George W. Bush official said: “We’re in a demographic boa constrictor and it gets tighter every single election.”
The first big issue that Republicans will confront is the so-called fiscal cliff and whether to cut a major deal on entitlements and taxes with Democrats in a divided Senate. Veteran GOP officials think a President Romney would be much more likely to win support for a compromise from tea party-backed Republicans than a second-term Obama.

“They’ll want to support their president,” said former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour of congressional hard-liners. Barbour, aping the voice of a House or Senate conservative said: “’He don’t agree with me on everything, but at least he’s trying to take our country in the right direction.’”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah.), a young conservative, added of Romney’s ability to bring along more ideological elements of his party: “That’s exponentially more true because of Paul Ryan’s presence. He has the personal relationships and street cred to make that happen. That’s one of the reasons Mitt selected him.”

If Romney loses, the party will almost certainly be far more divided when it comes to a grand bargain. Potential 2016 hopefuls like Ryan and Rubio will be hesitant to support any deal that could make their right flank vulnerable in a GOP primary. Read more at .politico.com./

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