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Must Republicans Embrace the Mushy Middle…or Perish?

Pliable “Gumby” Republicans and the media are telling us, in light of last month’s election results, that GOP candidates must move to the mushy middle to win elections. Really?

Ronald Reagan was a conservative. He ran as a conservative. He governed as a conservative. And he won as a conservative. Twice.

George H.W. Bush (41) ran as a conservative; selling his candidacy as “Reagan’s third term.” He won as a conservative. Then he broke his conservative “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge and subsequently lost his bid for re-election.

Bob Dole ran as a moderate. He lost.

George W. Bush (43) ran as a conservative. A “compassionate” conservative. The “true” heir to Ronald Reagan, we were told. He subsequently governed like a moderate on many issues (No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, TSA, etc.), but at least talked like a conservative, cut taxes like a conservative and ran for re-election as a conservative.

And won.

John McCain has always been a moderate. Voted like a moderate. Ran as a moderate.

And lost as a moderate.

Mitt Romney governed as a moderate in Massachusetts. He then ran as a “severely conservative” Republican in the GOP presidential primary this year. He won the primary, but no true conservative believed he was really one of us. We all knew he was, in his heart of hearts, a moderate.

He lost.

Here in Nevada, John Ensign ran statewide as a conservative. Voted as a conservative. And won. Until he was caught doing…well, you know.

Dean Heller ran as a conservative for Congress. Was elected as a conservative. Voted as a conservative. Was appointed as a conservative to replace Ensign. Voted as a conservative in the Senate. Ran as a conservative this year. And won.

Jim Gibbons ran as a conservative. Governed as a conservative. Talked like a conservative. Then lost. Not because he was a conservative; but because he horribly mismanaged his administration.

Indeed, note that Gibbons didn’t lose to a Democrat; he lost in a GOP primary to Brian Sandoval, who beat him by…running as a conservative.

Sandoval, like Romney, was always suspected of being a moderate. And, disappointingly, he’s governed as a moderate after fooling enough Republicans into thinking he was a conservative. Only time will tell if he can continue fooling enough of the people to get re-elected with a limited-government Libertarian and/or an IAP candidate in his race.

Joe Heck ran as a conservative in 2010 and won in a Democrat district against a sitting Democrat incumbent. He then voted as a conservative in office. Ran as a conservative again this year in a Democrat district. And won.

So, um, tell me again why Republican candidates MUST move to the center in order to win elections?


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