VAZQUEZ: CPAC smitten by Mitt, Marco

Last weekend, I traveled to Washington, D.C., with about 20 other Yalies to attend to the Conservative Political Action Conference. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The week before, I had grown disillusioned with the infighting present in the GOP and the dragged out contest the primaries seemed to become after a string of Rick Santorum victories in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.

Like many college Mitt Romney supporters, I threw my support behind Mitt after his victory in the New Hampshire primary. But I wasn’t expecting to encounter a Romney crowd at CPAC. After all, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Santorum seemed content to continue deriding Romney and one another. Surely, the anti-Romney sentiment would be felt at a conference of conservative activists with a history of delusional support for Paul.

But my expectations could not have been more off. The GOP infighting that has been the wide subject of media attention was not as intense as I thought it would be. In fact, in calling on candidates to prove their conservative chops, my party has been using the primaries to strengthen the final nominee.

A common adage at the conference was that we are no longer running a Rockefeller Republican for the White House. And on Friday, Romney delivered a speech that reassured the conservative base that this is true, leveling jabs at Obama and at the liberals of his home state of Massachusetts.

But Romney’s support from conservatives wasn’t the only momentous victory he scored at CPAC. As his victory among a pool of voters of whom 44 percent were students showed, Romney has the support of the young Republican base.

Young people, who have supported Ron Paul in the past two election cycles, voted for Romney because we believe he is the only candidate with the fiscal aptitude and leadership ability to reverse the growth of the dependency state that has been expanding for far too long. Young voters were crucial in the Reagan and Bush victories of the ’80s, and if 2008 is any indication, they will present a major portion of the 2012 electorate. If the Republicans plan on ousting Obama in November, Romney must be the nominee.

Romney made it clear that his time as a businessman and governor will prove invaluable assets as president. He spent close to three decades eliminating waste, balancing budgets and turning around failing business. We want to nominate someone who can fix Washington, not some career politician who is a client of it.

Those still not committed have to look at his record within the context of the state that he governed. He was the governor of Massachusetts, not Utah, and he had to deal with the circumstances of his liberal electorate. But as much as possible, he still led as a true conservative, using his line-item veto power more than 800 times across four budgets.

But more than ideology, conservatives need to focus on what ticket the GOP must create in order to defeat Obama in November.

This is why Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was able to win 34 percent of the vice presidential straw poll vote in a field of 11 choices that included popular conservatives like Chris Christie, Bob McDonnell and Paul Ryan. A Romney-Marco Rubio ticket would likely carry the vitally important state of Florida and help forge a Republican victory in November. The mindset we must have at the moment is a strategic one.

Santorum’s statement that nominating someone who is not a true conservative would be a hollow victory is not only unfounded when considering Romney — it’s absurd. Conservatives would align more favorably with any of the GOP candidates than President Obama.

The only way that Republicans can take back the White House is by nominating Romney. Although the prolonged primary season will serve to anchor Romney ideologically, it also allows Obama and the Democrats to do what they are most skilled at — campaigning.

But Mitt Romney is simply the best candidate. He’s a committed leader and a successful businessman. Unlike many of the other candidates, he is not an amalgam of empty rhetoric. Many decried Reagan in the same manner three decades ago — and they were wrong.

Christian Vazquez is a junior in Branford College and a former production and design editor of the News. Contact him at christian.vazquez@yale.edu.

Comments

  • phantomllama

    Great article; great ticket…

  • GeoJoe

    Nice try, but The Onion said it best:
    http://www.theonion.com/articles/romneymania-sweeps-america,27155/

    Also, some of your talking points have become rather cliched. I know that the handbook of GOP rituals requires you to repeat a few phrases, but the retorts are too easy…

    “We want to nominate someone who can fix Washington, not some career politician who is a client of it.”

    As Newt Gingrich said, the only reason that Romney isn’t a creature of Washington is that he keeps losing elections. Fortunately, that probably won’t stop anytime soon.

    “Many decried Reagan in the same manner three decades ago — and they were wrong.”

    Gag me. Please stop taking advantage of the fact that most Americans (me included) don’t have a good enough grasp of history to rebut all your claims about Reagan in detail. Why don’t you try to apotheosize a Republican who actually governed in the last 20 years? Oh, right… The modern GOP is a party of hard-line extremists who are completely incapable of leadership.

    • River_Tam

      > As Newt Gingrich said, the only reason that Romney isn’t a creature of Washington is that he keeps losing elections.

      Romney lost one Senate election in 1994.

      > Please stop taking advantage of the fact that most Americans (me included) don’t have a good enough grasp of history to rebut all your claims about Reagan in detail. Why don’t you try to apotheosize a Republican who actually governed in the last 20 years?

      Wait, your complaint is that rebutting Mr. Vazquez is hard because talking about something that you don’t know enough about?

      That’s fine – in future we’ll restrict all political discussion to the topics of Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers.

      • GeoJoe

        I’m not suggesting that we talk about Bieber. I’m suggesting we talk about Bush and the congressional GOP who would rather see the economy burn than President Obama’s polls improve. Republicans apparently have some sort of obligation to mention Reagan every few sentences. That’s fine if the historical analogy is useful. But it’s normally just to remind us that this god-like president once walked the earth, which is nauseating.

        • River_Tam

          > I’m suggesting we talk about Bush and the congressional GOP who would rather see the economy burn than President Obama’s polls improve. But it’s normally just to remind us that this god-like president once walked the earth, which is nauseating.

          As opposed to the Democrats who talked exclusively JFK and FDR during Obama’s campaign? Everyone references their best moments. Bill Clinton wasn’t sitting around referencing Carter during his campaign either.

          At least the Republicans actually know what Reagan did. The Democrats sit around lauding FDR without having any clue what he actually stood for.

    • GeoJoe

      Hey, River, didn’t Romney run for President last time around? Also, my beef with conservative columnists mentioning Reagan is that the person who wins an argument about Reagan is the most zealous person (i.e. Republicans, whose capacity for slavish devotion is unmatched by Democrats). I think that Repubs like to talk about Reagan because they can get away with making wildly inaccurate claims without much challenge and because they would rather not talk about what the GOP has been doing for the past 20 years. So, your retort was pithy, but it missed my point. Sorry for not expressing it more clearly :)

      • River_Tam

        Romney did seek the nomination in 2008, but it’s tautological and redundant to say “he’s not a Washington insider because he didn’t get elected as President of the United States last go-around.”

        As for the rest of your comment, I find it hilarious to see the “Democrats are more politically diverse than Republicans” card being played at Yale of all places. Watching the GOP debates will reveal the diversity of thought on the Republican side (and that’s not even including Ron Paul!). Newt Gingrich is big on space travel and other large infrastructure projects. He speaks passionately about public-private partnerships. Mitt Romney pushes for limited government across the board. Santorum is rebranding Bush’s socially-conservative pro-government Compassionate Conservativism.

        Watching the Democratic debates was basically an exercise in listening to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton argue over who had punched more Republicans, with the occasional chime-in from Bill Richardson about how he too had once punched a Republican in the face.

        • GeoJoe

          Haha – I think he lost a few elections in the process of “seeking the nomination.”

          And you’re missing the point (again) when you say that the statement you quoted is tautological. It’s absurd for Romney to decry federal politicians for being federal politicians while he is engaged in a decade-long, but failing, struggle to become a federal politician.

          • River_Tam

            1) Decade long? He lost an election in 1994, and then spent the next 8 years as the CEO of the company he’d founded and the CEO of the Winter Olympics. He then spent a term as Governor of his state and then ran for President unsuccessfully in 2008. I fail to see how this equates to a “decade-long struggle” to become a federal politician.

            2) Romney doesn’t “decry federal politicians for being federal politicians”. He specifically argues that he presents something new and original, rather than Newt Gingrich (the ultimate Washington insider, by anyone’s reckoning) and Rick Santorum (millions on earmarks and pork spending, part of the spendthrift GOP congress that you hate so much).

          • GeoJoe

            Eh, scientists, we round. ~2 years for the Senate campaign + ~6 for the Presidency = 8 which is almost 10. You might be able to count more of his term as Massachusetts’ governor towards campaigning for the presidency.

          • River_Tam

            Discontinuous years a decade apart can’t really be counted as part of the same ‘decade-long struggle”.

        • AwfulGrammarNazi

          I think you mean “its”…

  • SY

    Reagan never was accused of empty rhetoric. He was good-natured and cheerful, but had principles, mostly about Soviet communism and militarism (the crisis of the time), that scared many people recovering from the military losses in Vietnam and Iran. Other than specific policy on economic issues, Romney must move from sound bites to principles that scare some people. He will need to add some humor–hire a comedy writer–to avoid scary, as Reagan did, except when
    Reagan needed to be serious. Obama has principles of 1960-70’s social protest. The voters can choose whose principles will best guide through the crisis and end of the old WWII order that began three years ago. Both Obama and Romney think we can go back to the 60’s or the 80’s. We can’t.

    • BR2013

      I think the point made in the last paragraph is not that Reagan was decried empty rhetoric, but rather that he did not pander to it as many of the other candidates in this primary season have. Reagan was criticized for not throwing enough “red meat” at the GOP in 1980, leading to George H.W. Bush winning Iowa (in fact that primary was close well into March). This resulted in many of the members in his own party criticizing his conservative credentials. I do agree that the parties need to move on to deal with the issues of today. Gingrich is to stuck in the 1990s and Santorum is not a true fiscal conservative. In an election where the economy will be the major issue Romney is the most logical candidate.

  • RexMottram08

    Romney-Rubio

    Santorum-???

    Doesn’t matter to me. Obamacare delenda est.