We’ll give Grover Norquist points for honesty. At least he knows that Republicans can’t hope to win in November without Ron Paul and his supporters. But in his commentary on the New Hampshire GOP primary results for The Guardian (h/t Andrew Sullivan), Norquist seems to be operating under the delusion that Congressman Paul’s endorsement could save Romney’s presidential candidacy in the general election:
However, Ron Paul is the only candidate for the Republican nomination whose endorsement will matter to Mitt Romney. It is the only endorsement that will bring votes and the only endorsement, if withheld, that could cost Romney the general election.
If Ron Paul speaks at the GOP convention (as he was not invited to do in 2008), the party will be united and Romney will win in November 2012. If Ron Paul speaks only at his own rally in Tampa, Florida (as happened at the 2008 GOP convention in Minnesota) the party will not be at full strength.
Many conservatives (and progressives) seem to think that Ron Paul’s supporters are mindless followers who will go wherever their candidate leads them. In reality, though, most of Paul’s supporters are committed libertarians who think for themselves and have their own opinions. Unquestionably, they support Ron Paul. But they support him because he’s their best shot at a presidency that will advance libertarianism, not because they think he’s a perfected libertarian messiah who must be listened to at all costs. Many of his supporters — especially the younger ones — even disagree with him on several issues, social issues like reproductive choice and same-sex marriage among them. They support him because they’re pragmatists. They’re just not so pragmatic that any old big government, establishment conservative singing sweet nothings to libertarians will do.
Even Ron Paul can’t save Mitt Romney from himself. Whether Paul endorses Romney or not — and for the record, I don’t think he will — that won’t change who Mitt Romney is as a presidential candidate. He is a candidate with a big government record a mile wide, who among many other things signed legislation as Governor of Massachusetts that served as the template for ObamaCare. He is a candidate who has reversed every position on social issues that he once held, positions with which, by the way, many libertarians would have agreed. And he is a candidate who supports interventionist foreign policy; endless imperialism and war straight across the globe and the super-sized military budget that must accompany it.
This is who Mitt Romney is as a presidential candidate. He would still be this candidate even the day after a hypothetical endorsement from Ron Paul. And libertarians aren’t anymore likely to back him if Paul should endorse him. At best, an endorsement would mean that Paul has calculated that the evils of a Romney presidency for America are outweighed by the evils of a second Obama term. At worst, an endorsement would mean that Paul is just another politician who has sold out. Libertarians might be disappointed in Paul if he endorses Romney, but we wouldn’t be particularly surprised. And we wouldn’t blindly follow along into the big government abyss of a Romney presidency.
Back to the drawing board, Grover. Might I suggest the novel approach of urging your fellow conservatives to refrain from nominating a candidate whom libertarians despise?