The current rush to endorse presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney by his former political rivals not only rings of a frustrated hollowness, it also looks like a desperate attempt to shore up something that has been methodically undermined. Not that Romney did himself few favors by seeming to stand on both sides of most issues throughout the campaign, but his Republican opponents were effusive and adamant in their attacks and allegations highlighting why the former Massachusetts governor should not become the GOP presidential nominee. Yet, after months of sniping and deriding, they are lining up to endorse the man they had attempted to convince Americans wasn't the best person among them for the job.
But now they want American voters to believe that he's a better person for the job than President Obama.
Of course, there have been many occasions in speeches, interviews, and debates where the various candidates would should solidarity in their opposition to the incumbent president, noting that any of those running would make a better president than the current sitting president. Yet, they all seemed pretty certain that the one person that could not defeat Obama was Mitt Romney.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, just before leaving the race after her disastrous finish in the Iowa Caucuses, told ABC News that Romney would "never beat Obama. Not going to happen."
Newt Gingrich flat-out called Romney a liar on national television and his campaign made it clear that Romney was open to searching for "European socialist" ideas. Even when suspending his campaign on Wednesday, Gingrich's lukewarm acceptance of Romney's presumed GOP nomination was far from being pro-Romney and more being anybody-but-Obama.
Former senator Rick Santorum, whose late surge during the primaries ended with the suspension of his campaign in April, once said that Romney was the "worst Republican" that could face Obama on the GOP signature issue of anti-Obamacare (due to Romney's having supported state health care in Massachusetts) and wrote in a campaign letter to Iowa supporters that he "feared" a Romney nomination for that same reason. Santorum also noted that Romney's policies were the "mirror image" of Obama's.
All three either endorsed Romney within the past week or made the motions of making a future formal endorsement.
So where's the credibility?
They all have accused Romney at one time or another of saying anything to get votes and get elected but now expect voters to overlook the fact that they are endorsing a candidate that they truly have no real enthusiasm for and/or consider as either a sure loser in the upcoming national election or someone cast in nearly the same mold as the president. Now who seems to be saying anything to get someone elected?
This has happened countless times before. The contentious campaigns of Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008 saw a mending of fences and a coming together to defeat the Republicans in the national election. It has been done for years in both major political parties: Infighting stops once the presumptive nominee is chose and party unity becomes paramount in the quest to defeat the other party's champion.
But this past primary season, the infighting amongst Republican candidates was close to internecine, brutal, with little or no rules. Things got personal. Surrogates lined up to chastise and derogate, dismiss and accuse.
And the man that caught at least some -- and sometimes a considerable amount -- of that diminishing negativity from each and every other candidate won out. The same man accused of saying anything to win did just that -- he won.
But only his party's support, and that grudgingly. Now those that were his most vociferous detractors are lining up to show support. They're the ones saying anything in an effort to get him elected president, as if just by endorsing the man and supporting his candidacy all the earlier reasons why he wasn't the man for the job should disappear -- like after a post-hypnotic suggestion.
It all seems to boil down to: Why should voters -- especially moderates and Independents that are searching for a reason to choose a particular candidate over the other -- care about the endorsements of former candidates who obviously do not believe most of the comments they're making? Chances are they don't. The question is: Will the believability gap be detrimental to Mitt Romney's chances against Obama in November?
(photo credit: Jessica Rinaldi, Creative Commons)