Mitt Romney has done everything right in his quest for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. His speech at the Values Voters summit this weekend was a perfect expression of his socially and fiscally conservative views; but he garnered a measly 13% in a straw poll, finishing behind Mikes Pence and Huckabee. At what should by all rights be his moment, Romney's cautious conservatism is being swept away as the Tea Party turns the tide, writes Ron Elving for NPR.
In that respect, Mitt Romney's 2012 could resemble Hillary Clinton's 2008. Clinton, another candidate seemingly destined to be anointed her party's standard-bearer, underestimated the power of local-level activism, and lost the nomination suddenly recast as a figure out of step with the party zeitgeist. Elving grants that the loud voices of populists have given them outsized attention from the media—"Maybe too much attention," he writes. "But then, if you are Mitt Romney, can you ignore the lesson Hillary learned so bitterly?"