Romney: Turning The Tide

Last week, Mike did the heavy lifting on a pretty good bit of analysis which goes to show that Rudy Giuliani’s frontrunner status is not nearly as solid as nation wide polling data may initially show.

While it is true that no one can truly predict the effect of so many states bumping up their primary voting dates, the fact still remains that early successes in New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina will still enjoy the benefit of eating up new cycles, and should Romney, as polling indicates he would, take these early states, that’s an awful lot of free press that highlights Romney as a winner, and Giuliani as a loser.

It gets better for Mitt, though.  One thing that has truly hampered him early on was the fact that here you had a Mormon running for the nomination of a party held much in the thrall of the evangelical Christian sects.  The Religious Right, a highly mobile, active, and passionate bloc helped Bush, particularly in winning reelection, but unsatisfied initially with the Republican field, it was looking as though they  might sit this one out.

If anything, it was highly unlikely that a Mormon would get their endorsement.  Mormons have been something like the red-headed step child of the Religious Right; voting with them on key social issues (just look at Utah in 04; they went for Bush by over seventy percent), yet never gaining the respect of the Christian movement.

But, just as Catholics had to claw their way into the club, so too do the Mormons, and it is looking very much as though Romney is breaking quite a bit of ground on that front.  Following a values voters straw poll where Romney managed to eke out a win and gain the support of some Christian leaders, we now find out that Mitt has also garnered the endorsement of Moral Majority co-founder Paul Weyrich.

True, Weyrich maynot necessarily be prominent in political headlines today, but as CBN’s David Brody puts it:

Now, as for some who may say he’s a big name from the past but not the present, hold on a moment. First of all, his group still holds weekday business luncheons in DC where top name Republicans from the Hill stop by to make their pitch to grassroots conservatives who sit around that table. They know Weyrich and his grassroots network of friends have influence. Don’t think for a minute that they don’t. Just because he may have slowed down some physically through the years doesn’t mean his name is obsolete. Far from it.

Plus, by getting a social conservative guy like Weyrich on board, it gives the Romney campaign a big leap forward to be able to say that Romney is serious about moving a pro-family, traditional value agenda as President. It’s not about the amount of influence Weyrich has today. It’s about how his name is synonymous with traditional values conservatism. That’s the payoff more than anything else. What a way to start off the week. That three legged stool Mitt Romney keeps talking about just got sturdier. We will follow up with more on this throughout the week.

In other words, this could be the endorsement that gives Mitt the Religious Right street creds to get the rest of the Christian movement in his corner.  This is particularly important as Governor Mike Huckabee continues to slowly drag his campaign further into the realms of relevance, and at least some of that progress comes on the backs of the footsoldiers of the socially conservative bloc.

Growing support from the Religious Right on Romney’s behalf could stifle Huckabee’s momentum, while at the same time giving him a ground force to help overtake the frontrunner.  In any case, things are looking much better for Romney than they have all season.

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