Ever since Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party has moved steadily to the right. Yet in Tampa this week, for the seventh consecutive time, Republicans will nominate a mainstream presidential candidate after rejecting movement conservatives.
No one would confuse Willard Mitt Romney with a populist or movement conservative; he oozes establishment. So did the other presidential nominees since Reagan, both Presidents Bush, Bob Dole and John McCain.
Like those predecessors, Romney calculated the formula for winning the nomination, says Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, and an academic authority on the Republican Party: “Just conservative enough to get moderate traditionalists and a chunk of movement conservatives.”
That, he recalls, was the model George H.W. Bushinaugurated in 1988. In fact, Pitney says, “Romney reminds me a lot of that President Bush, minus the war heroism.”
Is this formula permanent or is it ephemeral?