“It ain’t easy being green”
– Kermit the Frog
It ain’t easy being LDS, especially when you are running for president and 48% of the country claim to be born again Christians and many of them have been hostile to your Mormon religion, labeling it a cult. Getting the nomination takes a bit of genius, or an act of God, since the path starts with a march through the cornfields of Iowa, where “born againers” lay in wait and reaches its crescendo in the South on Super Tuesday, where evangelical Southern States dominate.
I experienced this bias against Mormons during my work in the White House. I was trying to get the Medal of Freedom for Ezra Taft Benson when fellow staffers who were LDS pulled me aside and said, “Don’t even try.” (It finally happened for Gordon Hinckley.)
And so, while John McCain was launching his general election campaign at the Republican Convention in 2008, the Mitt Romney forces were busy re-writing the rules for 2012. They were trying to dethrone Iowa where they had been easily taken out in the last minute by evangelical Governor Mike Huckabee, seeing a year of work and millions of dollars go down the drain.
Under their new rules, LDS states like Arizona, Nevada and Colorado were eventually moved up. They broke up the evangelical South. Now it would vote in different parts on different weeks and the states themselves made proportional, so that if Romney did not win one, he would still get something added to his aggregate total.
If Mitt Romney lost a primary in 2012, as he would numerous times, he could still bag the bulk of the delegates through a selection process. This would require an organization. And that would require money, which he had. Delegates would have to attend caucus meetings where they would be elected to go to county conventions where they would have to win election to state conventions. So in the Rules Committee at the RNC in 2008, with all eyes focused on McCain, Romney quietly began his campaign to win the 2012 nomination.
In some cases it worked well. For example, in the 2012 North Dakota primary, Romney came in third place behind Santorum and Ron Paul but nevertheless captured 60% of the delegates at the state convention. But time and again, the pesky Ron Paul folks showed up, unexpectedly, and they had real people. In the end, Romney had to cheat to even hang onto his own Massachusetts, home state delegation.
At the RNC this week, the Romney folks sought a better plan, a way to ensure that a president Romney could be re-nominated in 2016 without embarrassment. Or even if he lost to Obama. He would own the 2016 nomination anyway and get to try again against Hillary Clinton.
The first version of Romney Rules, called for the nominee, himself, to pick all of the delegates in any state where he won the primary. This was what Romney wanted. This would have turned the RNC into one big fundraiser. Pay enough money and the nominee will let you be his delegate from Missouri. it would have gutted the Republican Party, ending all sense of ownership or participation from the grass roots. Conventions would not matter since they would have no business to conduct. And no one would have an incentive to go door to door campaigning, unless you can talk millionaires into doing that.
They also tried to take out Iowa as the first in the nation caucus. Iowa was a pesky “born again” state that seemed to go for anybody but Romney, even when they owned the state chairman, who this time subverted the vote count in key counties, guaranteeing that Romney could at least have the win for those first few weeks when sequential wins have power and significance for the now hapless, clueless, corporate run media. But the effort to gut Iowa failed.
What Romney got instead, at this year’s RNC, with his own personal envoys, Ben Ginsburg and John Sununu directing, was a plan that allowed states to pick their delegates but bound them to the beauty contest vote. In some respects it was the way it had been before the Romney folks had changed the rules to suit themselves. And it only passed because Morton Blackwell and other astute Republican leaders where kept away from the convention by hijacked buses that circled for hours, with delegates screaming, “Let us off this bus.”
And they got something more. Something bigger. They got the right for the RNC to change the rules right up to the next convention. Which gives them time to purge existing members and reshape the RNC to its purposes. It also allows them to change the results, if someone other than Romney wins a given state.
In fact, they didn’t wait. They began using this power in Tampa to purge the floor of Ron Paul delegates. But there was a big problem. Almost all of the Hispanics, African Americans and homosexuals on the floor were Ron Paul supporters. (African Americans? Yep, you will have to Google “Ron Paul and cocaine laws stacked against minorities,” to understand Ron Paul’s following among African Americans.)
Do they kick out Ashley Ryan, the youngest member of the RNC, the National Committee Woman from Maine? They tried. Sununu was furious that she had stood up to him in the Rules Committee. It was not an easy choice to make but they had to thin the heard, the floor noise was embarrassing, so among those kicked out were seven Afghanistan War Veterans, including one who had been home from the war only months. That’s okay, the Vets are tough. And the media has no spine. it will be ignored.
To give you an idea of how narrow the door into the RNC has now become, the hated evangelical Christians are clearly in disfavor. (Remember, according to Gallup, 48% of the nation claims to be born again.)
Sarah Palin? No way. Not anymore. She has been blackballed. Too born again. And a woman. Not even Michelle Bachman, who earned her spot at the podium and had to be crying behind her radiant smile.
Jews are okay. Mormons have a special affinity for them and consider themselves cousins anyway. Romney has done well in his appeal to these voters and may have the biggest Jewish vote since Reagan. It is a heartening sign for the GOP. And his Catholic outreach is superb. Mormons get along with them as well. There were nine Catholics and one born again Christian among the first speakers in Tampa. The exception was Ted Cruz, a Southern Baptist, who only snuck through the censors because everyone assumed that he had to be Catholic, after all he was Hispanic, wasn’t he? As the Romney folk will learn, Catholic Hispanics are often Democrat. It is the vast communities of Pentecostal Hispanics who are Republican. They will need the hated evangelicals if they expect any Hispanics at all. And then, a couple days later there was Tim Pawlenty, who was, yes, born again but a very early and fervent supporter of Romney and a man.
Evangelical Mike Huckabee was allowed to speak but not before a fight. Romney wants Republican Senate candidate, Todd Akin of Missouri, a PCA evangelical Christian, who recently misspoke on the abortion issue, replaced as the GOP Senate Candidate. (So much for Ronald Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment.) According to a close friend, Huckabee was told to stop campaigning for fellow Republican, Akin, or you can’t speak at the RNC. Huckabee refused and the Romney campaign, who has no other evangelical in its stable, backed down.
It’s not easy being green, especially when you are taking much needed, “legitimate” revenge against all those who have hurt you. As psychologists say, “Hurt people, hurt people.”
Mitt Romney’s mean spirited National Convention, run by a team who has refined exclusion and pettiness to an art, will now rely more than ever on the socialism and failed economy of Barack Obama to get their man elected. The door of their campaign is shut for anyone else to come in. At the RNC there was no generosity in victory, no forgiveness, no open arms, no calls for unity. Only scowls. It is payback time. To an unlikely combination of evangelicals, homosexuals and other targeted groups, the pain of the Romney’s will soon be unleashed upon them.
Now, more than ever, the choice between Obama and Romney will be which one do you want to ruin your country?