By Craig Robinson
As Iowa’s six electoral votes have become more critical to the presidential election, televisions, radios, mailboxes, and computer screens in the state have been inundated by political ads. Like it or not, Iowa matters in this election, and the media’s spotlight is once again upon us.
The more political activity in Iowa, the more national journalists solicit my thoughts on various races. When TheIowaRepublican.com was launched over three years ago, I thought my political analysis would be confined to the pages of the website. I had no idea that traditional media sources would look at the site as a resource or ask for my reactions and thoughts on articles that they are writing.
Recently, some of my comments were featured in a New York Times article written by Trip Gabriel. I first crossed paths with Gabriel at Danny Carroll’s pumpkin farm near Grinnell in the fall of 2011. The FAMiLY Leader was holding an event with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann that turned unruly when Grinnell College students showed up in mass to protest.
Gabriel’s article focused on Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who is now the Republican nominee for Vice President. We discussed what Ryan brings to the campaign. I shared with him why I thought Ryan was a good selection, and when asked about Ryan’s future prospects, I gave a very honest and unvarnished response.
I explained that if the Romney/Ryan ticket fails in November, Iowa would look like a Best Buy store the day after Thanksgiving. Instead of scores of shoppers pressed up against the glass doors, potential candidates would be lined up say that 2016 is the most important election of our lifetimes.
When pressed about Ryan’s future, I admitted that he would be a serious contender, and then I added, “I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him.” For the record, I was quoted accurately.
My “stench of Romney” quote has been making the rounds. Politico’s Roger Simon wrote an article on Tuesday titled, “Paul Ryan vs. The Stench.” Countless blogs, message boards, and conservative publications have weighed in on the comment. S.E. Cupp, a conservative commentator and Co-Host of MSNBC’s The Cycle, also mentioned my stench comment.
I don’t regret making the comment, but I will admit that I could have found a more diplomatic way to make my point. During the past three and a half years, I’ve come to prefer expressing my opinions via written commentary because it allows me to massage the message I’m trying to get across. Impromptu interviews don’t allow one such a luxury, and so, at times you actually get my full, unvarnished opinion.
All of that said, I do want to explain what I meant by saying that Paul Ryan would have to wash the stench of Romney off of him if he wants to run for national office in the future.
The “stench” I spoke of is not Mitt Romney or his current campaign. I was instead referring the stench of being associated with a losing campaign. I particularly believe that, should the Romney/Ryan ticket fail, conservatives and Republican activists will lash out at everyone and anyone who was associated with the campaign. Why? Because beating President Obama was supposed to be easy. He was supposed to be the second coming of Jimmy Carter. Essentially, losing has never been an option for Republicans, but as Election Day nears, defeat is a real possibility.
To further explain what I meant, consider the following examples.
Rick Santorum had to wash off the stench of losing his 2006 Senate campaign before being considered as a serious presidential candidate. Santorum also had a couple of endorsements that also hounded him. Santorum had to wash off the stench of endorsing Arlen Specter in 2004 Romney in 2008. Despite his reasoning at the time, voters demanded that Santorum deal with these past associations before they felt comfortable with him moving forward.
Paul Ryan will have to do the same thing should he run for national office in the future. In fact, being your own man or woman after being someone else’s running mate is the first obstacle one must overcome when setting out on his or her own campaign. Had Sarah Palin actually run for president, her association with John McCain would have been an issue she would have had to deal with. To prove that point, because of her association with McCain, Palin was expected to support her former running mate in the 2010 primary between McCain and conservative J.D. Hayworth, despite the fact that a Hayworth endorsement would have been a more natural fit.
I used the word stench to basically say that Paul Ryan will have plenty of baggage to deal with should he and Romney come up short on November 6th. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that, but my choice of words has elevated my comment to something I didn’t necessary intend it to be.
Lastly, while I have been critical of the campaign that Romney is running, I am voting for him this fall. The difference between another four years under President Obama and a Mitt Romney presidency is stark. Sadly, I think many conservatives forget what it was like in 2009 and 2010 when it seemed inevitable that we were about to wash down government controlled health care with a cap-and-trade law that would cripple our economy and increase energy costs for consumers.
Another four years of Obama is a scary proposition. Please join me in helping make sure that doesn’t happen.
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