...conservatives get hurt.
Arnold the Governator wasn't going to endorse anyone in this primary. "It doesn't help me, and it doesn't help the state of California," he said. Ah, but that was back when pal Rudy Giuliani was still in the race. Now that Rudy has dropped out and thrown his support to McCain, Arnie appears to be ready to do the same.
I have noted before that Schwarzenegger's status as a Republican is ephemeral at best. He ran as a Republican, but he's really a centrist. In fact, on many issues — notably including support for huge government — the Governor is more of a right-leaning Democrat than a centrist Republican. Perhaps it was marrying into the Kennedy dynasty that started that slide, or perhaps he's always been there and sticks with the Republicans because he likes their money.
Whatever the case, this pending announcement should surprise no one. Schwarzenegger is a power player, and the higher up the contacts, the better he mingles. Rudy was Mayor of a near city-state, and there is mutual admiration there. McCain is a RINO who sees himself as this generation's Henry Clay. The more compromises he makes, the better the independents and left-leaning GOPers like him.
So where does this leave conservatives? Right where we've been left for several years now: fending for ourselves without a single high-powered crusader for our cause to act as our voice in the political arena. Seemingly we have that voice in Romney, but who will act as his second? Who among the Republican power elite is willing to pull for this relative outsider?
No one. Oh, he has his supporters, to be sure. Hugh Hewitt is doing his level best to sound Romney's trumpet at every opportunity. Conservative analysts and publications such as National Review are talking in terms of Romney being the only "real" conservative candidate we have in this field. But the influential endorsements and glad-handing have thus far eluded Romney.
This can be a dual-edged sword. While it doesn't help Romney to be largely ignored by powerful Republican voices, he does have one thing going for him in this race. He has kept up. Try as the mainstreamers might, they can only anoint McCain the "front-runner" by virtue of his lead in votes and delegates thus far. But they can't crown him. Not yet, and not by a long shot.
Romney and McCain have merely exchanged positions in the race so far. With Florida awarding all 57 of its delegates to McCain, the Arizona Maverick (Side note: anyone remember Ford's Maverick cars? Were they lousy, or what?) assumes roughly the same leading margin over Romney that Romney enjoyed over McCain until this past Tuesday. But that's not saying much at this stage of the race. Whether the lead is 50-something to 30-something, or 97 to 74 (CNN's numbers), we're still a long way off from the 1,191 needed to capture the nomination.
It comes to this: Romney will do well if those who consider themselves conservatives take a hard look at McCain's record. The man is no friend of the base. Yes, he may vote "conservative" 80% of the time, but on critical issues of immigration and the economy, McCain isn't even interested in throwing us a lifeline. He'd rather cut deals with his liberal buddies in Congress. So conservative Republicans need to do their best to keep this man from attaining any office higher than the one he currently possesses.
If anyone doubt's Schwarzenegger's RINO status, by the way, just look at the ballot initiatives he's supporting.
We are not impressed.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin compiled a sample of comments she's received from people who say they'd rather stay home or vote contrarian in the event of a McCain nomination. Not me. No, I don't plan to vote for McCain, but whatever happened to write-in ballots? That's still allowed in this country, isn't it? I'd much rather exercise my right to vote by writing in a viable candidate's name than toss that vote on the ground. I believe I said once that I'd even consider voting for the other side (this was in the event of a Huckabee nod), but I've come to my senses. Yes, I believe I like the write-in concept...
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