Chris Herrod On: Mitt Romney not being conservative… enough?

Dear Mitt:

I say this as someone who endorsed you early in 2007 and 2011 for the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, respectively. I left the hospital early to vote for you on the day my son was born on Super Tuesday in 2008. I campaigned for you in 2012. I made countless telephone calls for you even during my campaign for U.S. Senate. And my son who was 13 at the time, had a gun pulled on him while he was knocking doors on the opposite side of the street from me in a Las Vegas suburb.

I believe you would have been a great President – infinitely better than the one we got. I’ll never forget waking up in a depressed stupor over and over during the early morning hours after the 2012 election. I could hardly believe the nation had chosen Barack Obama over you. I often paused to consider what the outcome of that election meant for the state of our nation—and still do.

I appreciate your understanding of international relations. As someone who has long understood Putin and the danger he represents, I wish you were in office to counter Putin’s meddlesome impact on Eastern Europe. My belief that “elections have consequences” was recently reinforced as my in-laws’ apartment windows were blown in by a separatist explosion in Eastern Ukraine last Christmas Eve.

But if you run again in 2016, I hope you will take advice from different people; and, that you’ll reach out to the grassroots and include them in your campaign management team. Not just token representation, but serious contributors. You’re going to need not only grassroots voters…but grassroots advice as well.

Please, don’t “pull a Jeb Bush” and antagonize the conservative base from outset. Since the election of Richard Nixon, no Republican has won the Presidency running as a moderate. You can’t succeed by throwing down the gauntlet and declaring that you don’t need conservatives. If you can’t bridge the gap with conservatives, how can you expect to bridge the gaps in the nation?!

During the 2012 Utah State Republican Convention, a delegate came up to me extremely disenchanted. He said, “Chris, I don’t understand. I’ve worked for the Romney Campaign, and given what I could, but I couldn’t afford to give $2500. Now, I’m not on the approved list of Romney national convention delegates. I don’t think that’s right. What was I to do?”

Your campaign (hopefully unbeknown to you) had generated a select list of “approved delegates” which included only your top donors and supporters. It substantiated the “out-of-touch” accusations the Democrats so cynically used against you. While money is extremely important (raising over $1 billion was quite the accomplishment), nothing can replace the common voters and the grassroots.

Your campaign made a similar tactical error before the national convention, and, unfortunately, disrespected the Ron Paul delegates. Why? You were clearly going to win anyway. Possibly a smother process was achieved, but why not give Mr. Paul your esteem and provide a prime-time slot to show that you could kindly include the libertarian wing in your tent. Political coalescing is messy, but let the process take place. The delegate process can be painfully slow and often contentious. My experience is that when process is fair and people are at least given a chance to be heard, a loss is not as bitter and eventually most of the delegates will come around. Instead, Ron Paul delegates and other conservatives stayed home. All that was needed was the same number of votes McCain had in 2008, and, you would have won!

These things really matter—especially in the age of “instant sharing” and “high-tech communication.”

Unfortunately, your campaign seems to be repeating the same mistake here in Utah, again. You appear to be supporting the Count-My-Vote Initiative. Supposedly you have been withholding support from your local county party in Park City, which only alienates the rank and file Republican activists you so critically need to win.

Your strongest connection with the conservative base has always been your astute understanding of the harm caused by illegal immigration. Please step up now and show conservatives that you understand Obama’s middle-class economics better than he does, and vigorously argue that you recognize what the middle and working classes are going through by his depression of wages caused by an endless stream of low-income workers. Stopping illegal immigration will increase wages more than a minimum wage increase! Most establishment Republicans are oblivious to the harm this policy is causing because it’s not doctors, professors, and Wall Street executives streaming across the borders, driving wages down and causing unemployment. You won’t gain votes (and support) by abandoning your previous immigration position. All changing your position will do will offend the 29% of Hispanics that did vote for you, anyway. Thirty-three percent of Hispanics are against amnesty, and, 54% of them are against Obama’s recent Executive Order.

Go after the African-American vote. Three U.S. Civil Rights Commissioners have come out against President Obama’s amnesty because it will devastate the Black Community. Call attention to the fact that the Democrat Party long ago abandoned African-Americans. African-Americans represent a greater percentage of the American populace and vote for Republicans at an even lower percentage than Hispanics – therefore, a greater upside potential if you will only stick to your convictions.

Go after the legal immigrant vote. Champion their cause. Show them that you understand the difficulty of getting families here legally – value the sacrifices legal immigrants have made. Come visit the hundreds of legal immigrants, from dozens of different countries, who have expressed their concerns to me about Republicans supporting amnesty. Visit the parents and teachers who have privately expressed their concerns that children can’t learn in classrooms because of the massive influx of children of illegal immigrants.

As I, and others, boarded the buses to Nevada and Colorado to work on your campaign, I noticed for the most part that it wasn’t the establishment Republicans who were donating their time and energy to you, it was the average folks who were simply concerned about their country.

You have much to offer our Country; however, you cannot straddle the fence forever. Decide if you believe in free markets or simply big business. Without the conservative base, you might win the Republican nomination, but you’ll have difficulty inspiring the nation. This nation needs someone who can unite the base AND the mainstream. Do what Americans want, not what donors want, and, you will have tapped an incalculable resource.

– CHRIS HERROD