Paul Weyrich’s Penance

Back in the Fall of 2007, Gov. Mitt Romney was riding high, having barely won the Values Voter Summit’s straw poll and positioning himself as the candidate favored by both Religious Right Beltway-insiders like Jay Sekulow and outsiders like Lou Sheldon and Bob Jones.   In fact, Romney was being pitched as the only alternative to unacceptable Rudy Giuliani, the unelectable Mike Huckabee, the unexciting Fred Thompson, and the unforgiven John McCain.

Romney’s efforts to position himself as the Right’s candidate of choice received a significant boost when, in November, he secured the endorsement of right-wing icon Paul Weyrich:

Today, Paul Weyrich, Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, announced his support for Governor Mitt Romney and his campaign to be our country’s next President. Paul Weyrich is one of the premier leaders in the conservative movement, having founded the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

“As he travels across the country, Governor Romney has outlined a blueprint to build a stronger America rooted in our common conservative principles. With a clear conservative vision to move America forward, he will strengthen our economy, our military and our families. More importantly, he already has an exceptional record of putting conservative values to work. Because of his experience, vision and values, I am proud to support Governor Romney,” said Paul Weyrich.

But over the coming months, Romney’s campaign failed to catch fire and he eventually dropped out of the race and Weyrich threw his support to Huckabee, whose campaign likewise failed to generate significant support and folded.

Since then, Weyrich appears to have done some soul-searching and has come to regret his support of Romney at the expense of Huckabee:

In a quiet, brief, but passionate speech, Weyrich essentially confessed that he and the other leaders should have backed Huckabee, a candidate who shared their values more fully than any other candidate in a generation. He agreed with Farris that many conservative leaders had blown it. By chasing other candidates with greater visibility, they failed to see what many of their supporters in the trenches saw clearly: Huckabee was their guy.

The extent of Weyrich’s remorse appears to be even deeper than anyone could have imagined, as he has now joined a group of former-Huckabee backers and other right-wing activists in warning McCain that picking Romney as a running mate would be “utterly unacceptable”

Conservative leader Paul Weyrich – who endorsed Mitt Romney’s presidential bid – has signed on to an open letter from more than two dozen movement activists to John McCain warning him not to select the former Massachusetts governor as his VP pick if he expects their support.

“If Governor Romney is on your ticket, many social conservative voters will consider their values repudiated by the Republican Party and either stay away from the polls this November or only vote down the ticket,” they write in a message posted online by a political action committee called “Government is Not God.”

The letter – topped by the headline “NO Mitt” — will run as a print ad in cities visited by McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, beginning with his Arizona stop this weekend.

How, in the course of just a few months, Weyrich went from citing Romney’s “experience, vision and values” as making him best-suited to be President to declaring that he is absolutely unqualified to serve as McCain’s running mate is utterly mind-boggling:

When a chief executive can violate multiple articles of the oldest functioning constitution in the world and disobey statutes he solemnly swore to defend and execute faithfully, then blame judges who never even asked him to intervene, he mocks the principle of limited government and the separation of powers. He robs Americans of their unalienable right to self-government, for which so many soldiers, sailors and airmen have died.

These are just two issues (there are more) that absolutely disqualify Mitt Romney as a viable Vice Presidential option. He would fatally harm your appeal to voters with deep constitutionalist and social conservative commitments.

If Governor Romney is on your ticket, many social conservative voters will consider their values repudiated by the Republican Party and either stay away from the polls this November or only vote down the ticket. For the sake of your election, the health of your party, and the future of America you must not allow the obvious electoral consequences of that to occur.

As citizens, activists, and leaders with our feet on the solid ground of real world Republican and Independent voters, it is our duty to alert you that the grassroots is nearing a point of breaking with Republican Party leadership on many issues, not the least of which is the relentless whitewashing of Mitt Romney as a so-called “conservative.”