I think history was made today. In my memory, anyway, The State has never had occasion to endorse a second choice, in a second editorial, before the actual vote. That’s because an endorsed candidate has never dropped out between the endorsement and the vote.
(We had one or two occasions over the years when a state primary candidate didn’t make it into a runoff, but that was very rare, and in any case is entirely different, since that happened after a public vote.)
Fortunately for The State, the second editorial was easier to arrive at, since the editors had already clearly said in their Jon Huntsman endorsement that Mitt Romney was their second choice — in fact, the only other choice to be seriously considered.
And so it was that the paper endorsed Gov. Romney today. Here’s the critical point in the piece:
But we take comfort in the fact that Mr. Romney always has been less interested in philosophy than in problem-solving. As The Washington Post summarized the views of his friends: “obeisance to ideology would impose a rigidity that would inhibit Romney’s real talent, which is forging new ways to fix old problems.”
In other words, the thing that makes the most extreme Republicans despise him is the one characteristic the editorial board values most.
The endorsement went on to express the hope that Romney would start acting more like that on the campaign trail sooner, rather than waiting for the fall campaign. The paper’s main beef with him, and the reason it preferred Huntsman, was his penchant for stooping to conquer and pandering to ideology.
My favorite part of the endorsement, though, wasn’t the endorsement. It was Cindi’s accompanying column. In it, she did something I’ve done a lot over the years — provide insight into how endorsements are arrived at. While questions about some burning issues of the day are asked, they are only sometimes the core of the process. The really critical questions tend to be the ones meant to discern how the candidate understands the job, and would approach decision-making. You can pick up on that in the column.
But here’s my favorite passage:
Finally, I got this: “It’s not a change, but there are positions I have that are not popular with the conservative base in our party. The most obvious is the health-care plan in Massachusetts. Many advisors told me I needed to abandon my conviction that it was the right thing … and that I should say it was a mistake. … Like you, I’m willing to change my mind if presented with facts that show I’m wrong, but with regard to the health-care plan, I’m steadfast.”
I’d like to hear him stand fast behind what he did for healthcare a bit more boldly. To me, it’s his main relevant accomplishment. His work at Bain, and salvaging a sporting event, seem far less relevant to me.
Too bad that the portion of the electorate that he’s trying hardest to appeal to hates Obamacare too much. It prevents him from putting his best foot forward.