By Carl M. Cannon…..In a season of tornadoes, the Jim DeMint-for-president talk that arose again last week was just a small gust of wind, but it was that latest in a series of conservative-driven microbursts that has kicked dust in many people’s eyes. Fairy dust, perhaps?
Approached by conservative activists described as “frustrated,” Sen. DeMint was said to be reconsidering whether he ought to join the large and unruly 2012 GOP presidential field. Two separate “draft DeMint” organizations have formed, and the South Carolina Republican told The Hill newspaper that “out of respect for the people who have asked us to think about this,” he intended to pray over the matter and discuss it with his wife.
Given the awesome responsibility of the Oval Office, talking such a decision over with God (not to mention one’s spouse) is probably wise. It’s also prudent to alert your political aides to any possible change of heart, however: By the following day, Matt Hoskins, who speaks for DeMint’s political action committee, was downplaying the Hill story, telling Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post that “nothing has changed” and that his boss was just being polite to those urging him to make a White House run.
Yet this kind of thing keeps happening, whether the coveted candidate is Jim DeMint, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin or someone else. One big question goes begging, however: Just what kind of conservative credentials do these activists find lacking in the current Republican presidential field?
Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Hunstman, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain have all spoken out consistently in favor of lower taxes, reduced government spending and lessening regulation of American business. Ditto for Palin and Perry, who are also making candidatorial noises but have not yet committed to the 2012 race.
Likewise, all these candidates and would-be candidates have declared themselves to be steadfastly in opposition to higher taxes, gay marriage, legal abortion, “Obamacare” — and Barack Obama himself. On abortion, Santorum is one of the right-to-life movement’s most articulate and passionate advocates. All the other talked-about GOPers are too, with the exception of Rudy Giuliani, but he didn’t get too far in 2008, and that was one of the reasons. It’s true that Romney was a late convert to this particular cause, but he’s been in the pro-life camp for roughly a decade now, which is before the Tea Party Express was invented.
That’s not all: Many of these candidates have long track records of achievement in conservatism’s causes. Gingrich was the revolutionary who showed Republicans how to take back the House of Representatives — and then executed the plan. Romney and Pawlenty demonstrated how a Republican can win in a Democratic “blue” state. Huntsman and Palin wracked up record job-approval ratings while challenging various sacred cows in Republican “red” states.
But this is not enough for some people — not nearly enough.
“These candidates rush over to the right during the primaries, and then tack to the middle in the general election,” complains Richard A. Viguerie, the longtime conservative direct-mail guru. “That’s what ruling-class Republicans do. We’re not interested in somebody who says, ‘I’m opposed to increased taxes.’ That’s all rhetoric. Government has gotten too big. If you don’t want to roll it back, you’re part of the problem.”