It was the wrong decision, for all the right reasons.
Mitt Romney is a conservative who cares about the present and the future of his party. He doesn’t want to see the GOP resort to a nasty nomination brawl and, after the campaign dirty tricks that helped rob him of West Virginia and possibly other states, Romney took a move out of the Ronald Reagan playbook and decided to drop out early, recognizing Sen. John McCain’s bulldog-like lead in the delegate race, and all the computer memory in the world won’t make it make sense; at least, not this year.
Romney could have had a chance had California fallen his way, but such was not the case. Like Reagan, he recognized the inevitability and that this was not his time. Just as Reagan bowed out early in 1976, allowing Gerald Ford to face off with Jimmy Carter, so too did Romney bow out to Sen. John McCain, who will have to face a difficult opponent in the fall in the person of either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.
What this guarantees are a few certainties.
1. Whoever wins the White House will be a former U.S. Senator, not a former governor. This is troublesome, since executive experience at a state level usually makes for a far better presidency.
2. Whoever wins the White House, it will be a victory for liberalism … which may be the perfect antidote to America’s flirtation with the left. It worked well in 1994; after only two years of Democrats controlling everything, America rebelled, scared primarily by the shadow of HillaryCare, and put the GOP back in control of both houses of Congress, primarily thanks to Newt Gingrich’s vision and leadership. Whether it’s President Obama, President Rodham or President McCain, the libs will be in charge in 2009, unless voters overturn the Dem advantage in one or both houses of Congress.
3. Conservatives have no horse in this race, at the presidential level. However, instead of staying home, they should take this time to get involved at the grassroots level, unseat the liberal country-club Republicans who control the party, and lay the groundwork to take back the GOP for conservatives. (Real ones, not RINOs like McCain.)
Whether 2012 is about defeating President Rodham, President Obama, or even replacing President McCain in 2016, if conservatives don’t withdraw but lay grassroots groundwork for the future, the next GOP primary won’t have to be determined by crossover Democrats out to screw us over, let alone “Democrat in disguise” independents who regularly caucus with the GOP but ultimately vote Democratic.
By demonstrating party loyalty, Reagan withdrew from the 1976 race only to come back four years later and ride a conservative tidal wave, not only to his party’s nomination but into the White House and ultimately into history. Whether the conservative future is with him or another conservative, it’s clear Romney’s hope is that 2012 or 2016 will mark the beginning of a similar era; it may even ultimately be referred to as the Romney Revolution.