Michael Medved: Romney’s Nixon Problem

Roundup: Media's Take

Michael Medved hosts a nationally syndicated daily radio talk show heard by more than 4 million listeners. He is also the author of 12 nonfiction books, most recently The 5 Big Lies About American Business.

A ghost from 1968 haunts the campaign of Mitt Romney—and no, it’s not the memory of his father, the late Michigan Gov. George Romney, who stumbled as a leading GOP contender 43 years ago.

For the younger Romney, the more worrisome blast from the past involves the campaign of Richard Nixon, who ultimately won the nomination by default but never managed to inspire real enthusiasm from the party faithful. As with Mitt, nearly all Republicans considered Nixon acceptable as a standard bearer as the former vice president positioned himself in the safe center of the party.

But grassroots activists felt far more excitement about candidates like Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater and California Gov. Ronald Reagan on the party’s right, or New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and New York City Mayor John Lindsay from the party’s moderate, establishment wing.

Nixon carried the taint of a perpetual candidate who had lost high-profile races. He couldn’t get elected California governor two years after losing the presidency in 1960, and he looked like an ideological chameleon who would assume any policy position or employ any unscrupulous stratagem for the sake of victory. The nickname “Tricky Dick” became inescapably affixed to his public persona.

Rightly or wrongly, skeptics apply similar negatives to Mitt Romney...

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