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Ben Jacobs | Tea Party Lawmakers Still Can’t Wrap Arms Around Mandate Mitt





“I don’t want it to sound like faint praise,” says Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold, a member of the Tea Party class of 2010 who stayed neutral during the party’s presidential primary, when I ask him about Mitt Romney. He repeats himself: “I don’t want it to sound like faint praise.”

Of course, that sounds exactly like the faint praise that many Republicans itching to beat Barack Obama, take the Senate, and build on their majority in the House are offering Romney. Farenthold said he was confident about maintaining “a Republican majority in the House as a backstop” no matter who wins the White House and keeping a potential President Romney “on the reservation.”

Newt Gingrich keeps ripping Mitt as a “Massachusetts moderate,” Rick Perry called him a “vulture capitalist,” and Rick Santorum said the health plan Romney signed into law as governor made him the godfather of Obamacare and unelectable because of it. The candidate who succeeded in uniting his rivals in the 2008 GOP field in The “I Hate Romney” Club has inspired similar anger this time around as his big-spending operation trashed each rising rival in turn. Past his primary rivals, Tea Party conservatives openly fretted during the contest that Romney’s conversion from moderate Massachusetts governor to “severely conservative” presidential candidate was less than genuine. That fear was summed up in a memorable joke by Santorum super-PAC funder Foster Friess:

“A liberal, a moderate, and a conservative walk into a bar. And the bartender says ‘Hello Mitt.’ ”

 

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