McCain Flak Calls Romney “Important Leader” In GOP

There’s been some speculation in conservative circles about Mitt Romney becoming John McCain’s running mate in an effort to unite the party, and McCain spokesman Steve Schmidt helped fuel it some more in a conference call today.

“(McCain) was thrilled yesterday to be campaigning with Gov. Romney, who is a very important leader in the Republican Party,” Schmidt said of the two candidates stumping in Utah. “They had a great time together out on the campaign trail.”

It’s one thing for the two of them to be happy campaigning together, but count me among those who believe that Romney would be a huge bust as a vice-presidential nominee. He won’t deliver Massachusetts and Republicans don’t need him to deliver Utah. His level of support among conservatives is highly exaggerated by his admirers in the pundit class. If he were actually popular with grassroots conservatives, he would have won the nomination given his money and organizational advantages and the reservations voters had about McCain. Yes, the conservative vote was split, but it was split because Romney wasn’t broadly popular. And that’s among Republicans. Among the general electorate, he had consistently high negative ratings.

The other arguments given about Romney — that he has a strong management background and economic expertise — are also weak. Executive experience is less relevant for somebody who is in a subordinate position, and what conservatives see as economic knowledge can easily be used to make the case that the GOP is the party of the rich.

At the leftist “Take Back America” conference, Dave Weigel caught liberal pundit Cliff Schechter declaring, “If it were Mitt Romney we were running against we could all sit back and eat barbecue for six months and still kick his butt.”

That sounds about right to me. McCain would be pretty silly to tap Romney and make a mistake that the GOP averted in the primaries.