Why Romney’s not debating in Oregon

by Brendan Monaghan

With Super Tuesday now well behind us and another supposedly-important delegate dash in our wake, it’s time for certain people to face some unpleasant facts. Tuesday’s narrative, parroted by the left-wing media and the right-wing commentariat alike, was more of the same: another bad night for the apparent Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney. He struggled to connect with “real Americans” and just can’t close the deal to win the party’s presidential nomination. He’s viewed as being too moderate- or liberal- a RINO, even when one of Romney’s current rivals called him a “real conservative” when he last sought the office. Most of all, they say Romney can’t deliver the base (and thus can’t beat Obama) because they see him as a flip-flopper. Even though the base itself has collectively flipped and flopped between at least four different candidates.

What actually happened was Governor Romney won the most delegates out of Tuesday night’s four contests, effectively neutralizing his narrow losses in proportional Mississippi and Alabama with big wins in Hawaii and winner-take-all American Samoa (yes, the territories and islands count just as much). Rather than failing to get any closer to the magic 1,144 and dragging on the nomination race forever, Romney actually increased his lead. The facts curiously run counter to what those on the far-left and far-right in the media are suggesting, curiously sharing the goal of torpedoing Mitt Romney’s candidacy. Rather than failing to connect with “ordinary voters,” Romney consistently wins every significant category- except white evangelicals and the undereducated. And on the question of electability, there is no question. Even in Alabama and Mississippi, Governor Romney is seen by wide margins of having the best chance of beating Barack Obama.

The simple yet perhaps inconvenient truth is that the competitive phase of the Republican primary contests has ended. Mitt Romney will be the Republican Party’s nominee. The question is not “if” but “when.” By slog or by knockout. National Journal illustrated as much last week, and Tuesday’s results were mere continuations of that trend. “If Romney continues on the path he’s set,” they say, “he will achieve the 1,144 delegates he needs to win.” Only a monumental 1969 Chicago Cubs-style collapse, in which Romney starts losing everywhere, could set up a brokered convention with winner-take-all states on the way. And only if Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum drop out- and the surviving rival dominates Romney by astronomical margins- can a Republican not named “Mitt Romney” claim the nomination outright. National Journal calls this “a highly improbable scenario.”

Why is this important? It illustrates why Governor Romney decided not to attend a potential debate in Portland next week that he never committed to in the first place. Never mind that 20 debates- more than any year in any party primary for any office in any country in history- is more than enough and far more than most voters can stand. Never mind that the chances of learning anything new- no matter how insignificant- about any of the four major candidates is slim to nil. There is understandable anger and frustration- albeit unjustified- from many Republicans in Oregon. Obviously the Party itself loses out on what they hoped would be a major fundraiser. Yet, they planned to shut out all but maximum donors and pressed on ahead, banking on the race still being in doubt after Super Tuesday, without getting a commitment in advance from anyone. When the one guy who mattered- the one candidate virtually assured of being the nominee- said “no,” the Party tried to do the debate with three.

Understandably, the faction of Republicans in Oregon most expressing their anger openly are the irreconcilables. Oh, they might claim to be “undecided.” Perhaps they haven’t settled on a candidate to support, but they have decided they will under no circumstances support Willard Mitt Romney for President. In the primary, certainly, but in some cases, even the general election itself. He is the candidate, for reasons aforementioned or best left unsaid, who can seemingly do no right in their eyes, even after he’s put the nomination out of reach. Thus, he would seem to have even less reason to come to Oregon as there would be nothing he could say or do to convince the irreconcilables- still pining for Ronald Reagan’s resurrection- to support him, in the primary or the general.

Oregon’s would-be debate wouldn’t fit with Romney’s game plan. The debate is nearly two months before the primary itself, so Romney has little to lose but absolutely nothing to gain from flying in and out. He can save a trip to Oregon for May. Romney is past the phase of lowering himself to the level of the field and giving his rivals continued legitimacy. He should be raising money in preparation for Obama’s billion-dollar onslaught and making closing arguments to Republicans that center around, yes, electability and inevitability. He should set his sights on courting swing voters, moderates, independents, genuine undecideds, and as President Eisenhower called them, “the straight-thinking Democrats.” He should not continue to play in Round One when he has already clinched his spot in the championship game.


Brendan is a graduate student at Portland State University, where he hosts the KPSU “Right Jab” radio program, and a regular contributor at Oregon Catalyst. Brendan is studying political science, and graduated from The Ohio State University in 2007, with a degree in political science.

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Posted by at 10:00 | Posted in 2012 Presidential Election | 29 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • scatcatpdx

    Yes by may usually the  nominee is decided  by then. Another issue is Oregon is not a winning state for Republicans. After the 1st district debacle I afraid the National GOP will write Oregon off feeling they are just throwing good money after bad.

    • JoelinPDX

      And the NRC would be absolutely right to throw Oregon over the side of the boat. Who would have been asking the questions? Probably Jeff Mapes and David Sarasohn.

  • valley person

    What actually happened Brendan, and this has been well and fairly reported in the media, is that Romney both won more delegates AND still failed to win over Republican base voters. 

    Sometimes reality is more complex than a single narrative.

    The competition is not over until one party wins enough delegates. Romney is still the favorite, as he has always been. But he still has to compete, and he doesn’t seem to get any better at this as time goes on. He just has more money. Whether ducking debates is a good idea at this stage remains to be seen.

  • None of Romney’s supporters are angry that he isn’t doing the debate. I would have liked him to come, I was planning on making a trip up there in the hopes of getting a glimpse of him, but I’m not upset he isn’t coming. This article hit the nail on the head, Romney can do no right. But I figured it out – it’s because the vast majority of media is left wing, and they are all in Obama’s pocket. The one right wing media is in Santorum’s pocket. So it leaves Romney fighting against a fifth “candidate”. I disagree that Romney doesn’t connect – every supporter I know is practically overwhelmed with the feeling of what this man can do for our country. Those who “don’t connect” with him are religious bigots who ignorantly believe the lies they have been raised on concerning the LDS church, and those who are jealous of the success he has achieved. If they took the time to research the man, they would see a much different person than he has been painted to be. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and he made his fortune on his own, from the bottom up, by working hard. The only think his father gave him was an education – which is something we all do for our children when we can. After that, Romney was on his own. He and Ann even borrowed money to help out with a down payment on their first small & modest home. They paid this money back! When Romney’s father died, he received a small inheritance (comparitively – it was $1,000,000), and he donated the entire amount to charity because he felt he didn’t need it.  Romney’s is a real American success story, and the FACT is that he loves this country, he loves all of us, and he wants EVERYONE to be able to become successful just like he did.  For some reason, all of this makes some people despise him.

    • Nodnedlaw

       rrtract:  I’m not having trouble connecting with Mitt Romney for either of your two stated reasons – anti LDS, nor jealous of his success.  You have greatly oversimplified the picture.  I will happily vote for Mitt if he is the nominee, but feel that Rick Santorum is simply a beter candidate.

  • Your on record many times stating that Romney will be the Nominee.. But what you have decided to say in this article is: Oregon Voters must support him.. but we are in a primary mode still.

    Mitt Romney basically has decided to tell Oregon Republican Voters that he does not care about support from them.  We are not necessary to his election in the Primary.  He has no need to make a statement on his plans as President on what he will do that will affect Oregon specifically.

    Whether he has the nomination secured or not.  Saying that acceptance is mandatory and Oregon Voters should just hand them large amounts of Money to help him beat Obama, while never bothering to visit here?  That is arrogance.. pure and simple

    • Where do you come up with the idea that he doesn’t care about Oregon???? Do you think he is debating in every state? He will be here before the voting. That is a ridiculous assumption!!!

  • The Bill Post Radio Show

    Oregon, is not the issue here.  A HUGE WORLDWIDE viewing and listening audience is what was at play here.
    This was a HUGE mistake on all 4 candidate’s part.
    Unlike ALL 20 previous debates, this one was going to be distributed over the air (not cable/satellite) and internet and radio and on Armed Forces Networks, meaning whether it was in Portland, Oregon or Moscow, Idaho, it was a potentially humongous audience.  THAT is why Mitt will never understand what he’s done wrong or at the least, what his campaign has wrongly advised him.
    Do I need another debate?  Yes.  I could use 100 debates if I can learn more about the candidates.  Oregon’s primary is not until May 15, as well as a few other states, and at this point there is NO clear, for sure leader.  Let’s keep campaigning until that clear winner is declared shall we?

    • You all are omitting the fact that Portland didn’t want this debate to happen either. They didn’t have enough money. Maybe Romney was trying to be considerate.

      • The Bill Post Radio Show

         “Portland” didn’t want it?  I didn’t know that…..I knew that Sam Adams didn’t want it.  As for MOST of us, Sam Adams doesn’t represent squat.

        • That was generalizing. The bottom line is, it would have cost Portland money they don’t have. I believe it was because of using too much money for the occupy misfits.

        • Nodnedlaw

           Again, you nailed it, BRRS.  the pedophile mayor did not want to give the Republicans air play.

    • Nodnedlaw

       You nailed it, Bill PRS.  this would have been a worldwide audience.

  • Romney did fine on super Tuesday, but what I see is three big government republicans. I’m LDS, I like Romney, I think he is probably the most personally accomplished and brightest candidate; however, I won’t vote for Goldman Sacks candidate. Romney is a wall street candidate. Remember Romney’s problem in the south is not just that he’s mormon – he’s a Yankee Mormon. I think a lot of the distrust between Mormons and Evangelicals has a lot to do with deep cultural differences between Scots-Irish and German folks in the south and British folks from the north. Mormons, even Mormons that have lived in the west are still much more in common culturally with people in the Northeast. 

    Remember Ron Paul would have had a huge turnout in Portland. They had to turn away people at essentially all of his campaign appearances in the Northwest. That doesn’t fit the establishment republican narrative nor does it fit the lamestream media’s narrative. That said, OPB would’ve reported on it. 

    • Romney’s problems in the south were 1. religious bigotry and 2. Dems were able to vote in the primaries. It is crystal clear that Obama does not want Romney to get the nomination. That alone should make those who want Obama out, flock to vote for Romney.

  • Nodnedlaw

    Brendan, you are presumptuously dismissing the difference between today’s political climate and that of previous years.   We are in new territory and cocky predictions, such as yours, are vulnerable to embarrassment.  The chances of you ending up wrong are at least 50-50.

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