According to Andrea Shell, spokesperson for the Tea Party group Freedom Works, “These guys [newly elected Tea Party candidates] are going to force Romney to move to the right. This is our entire mission.”
The point of the story is really this:
If we can elect a really conservative House and Senate that will force Romney to go along with our bold conservative agenda,” Shell said. “he’s going to have to really, really go to the right. He’ll be working with guys in the House and Senate. He won’t be able to get away with too many middle of the road policies, especially on things like the deficit.
The Tea Party simply doesn’t trust this guy. They think he’s a middle-of-the-roader and that he needs to move to the right. My guess is that they’ll be very vocal with a radical right-wing message come the fall, as they become more full of themselves after primary victories in places like Texas and Indiana.
Newt Gingrich, ever helpful, recently said that Romney has moved a long way in the direction of the Tea Party right with his endorsement of the Ryan budget plan, opposition to tax increases, and intention to repeal Obamacare. “You have to think of Romney as having a foot in the Tea Party and a foot in the establishment,” he said, adding, “that’s right where the Republicans want him.”
But isn’t that the problem? David Dewhurst is a very conservative politician, but his association with the establishment made him a big target for the Tea Party, something Cruz was able to exploit. That’s how crazy they are. Being in government and having “compromised” with the other side to get anything done is enough to disqualify you.
We have been talking about this for a long time. To win, Mitt Romney will have to appeal to the radical right but also to swing voters who might be persuaded to vote Republican if they can be convinced Romney is a sufficiently pragmatic, mainstream conservative.
So far, this campaign isn’t real yet, but it will be when we come out of the conventions. When that happens, Mitt Romney will have some work to do and the Tea Party will have to decide if it has the discipline to let him do it.
In other words, when Romney starts to shade to the middle come September, even if ever so slightly, will the Tea Party stand down or will they make trouble and remind voters, paradoxically, exactly who Mitt Romney is in bed with? I don’t know.
And if Romney decides he either can’t or won’t move towards the centre, he won’t win.
(Cross-posted at Lippmann’s Ghost.)