Conservative Activists Launch NotMittRomney.com
Questions on the "rank and file" right about frontrunner's electability come from SC, GA and elsewhere.
A right-wing blogger and a conservative political activist have launched a new website to wage a war in the early primary states, battling the perception that GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney will be the party's candidate and whether, in the end, he is even electable.
The former Massachusetts governor and 2008 runner-up for the GOP nomination has found support from roughly a quarter of the primary electorate for months.
But Romney hasn't broken away from the conservative GOP pack, and voters have hung their hopes seemingly weekly on a new candidate: first Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, then Texas Gov. Rick Perry and then Georgia businessman Herman Cain. Now Cain's rose is wilting as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich starts to see a bump in the polls.
NotMittRomney.com co-founder John Hawkins, a Myrtle Beach-based blogger and editor of the Right Wing News website, says its a disturbing trend.
"The base is desperately looking for an alternative," he said.
That could mean trouble if Romney wins the nomination.
"If we're not excited about Mitt Romney, how are we going to get independents excited about Mitt Romney?" Hawkins said.
Fellow NotMittRomney.com founder Ali A. Akbar, a Savannah, Ga., consultant with Vice and Victory Agency, says conservative voters aren't sure where Romney stands on issues.
"That's cause for concern on both sides of the aisle," he said.
The founders say the website is going to be highlighting Romney's shifting stand on GOP issues, along with a petition for conservatives who say that Romney shouldn't be the nominee.
This isn't just the ramblings of another online conservative voice. Hawkins counts among his Twitter followers presidential candidates, elected state officials and leading Tea Party movers-and-shakers.
"We need to make sure the voters get the full story," Hawkins said, noting that other campaigns have been vetted by a skeptical media — everyone except Romney.
"I want to make sure Mitt Romney is getting the same kind of heat."
The site will also highlight the electability question.
The bloggers aren't alone in their skepticism, of course. South Carolina GOP activist and Charleston County Republican Party Chair Lin Bennett said Romney won't be able to secure some conservative votes.
"I've got nothing really personal against Mitt Romney — I'm not concerned about his religion. My concern is about the people who are concerned about his religion," she said.
"We have folks in the rank and file who will stay home on Election Day. We can't afford that. It's a sad fact, but facts are facts."
Among the 20 co-signers who make up the leaders of NotMittRomney.com, there are individuals who have endorsed different candidates. Neither Akbar nor Hawkins are behind any of the other candidates and they've asked the rest of the listed to keep their powder dry, to borrow a term from U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. DeMint's decision not to endorse anyone during the primary season has led many to suggest a critique of Romney and other front-runners.
NotMittRomney.com will be focusing its attention first on avoiding a Romney victory in Iowa -- the founders say they assume that the candidate will win New Hampshire. Then attention will turn to South Carolina.
"If he is stopped in South Carolina, he's not going to pull this off," Hawkins said.
The group hopes that South Carolina provides an opportunity for another candidate to shine, and then do well in Florida.
With a clear alternative in place, Akbar says the NotMittRomney.com effort can be handed over to a campaign with the resources to play big in Super Tuesday.
Hawkins is hoping for an alternative he likes.
"There should be one person on the ballot whom people say, 'I like this guy,'" he said. "It shouldn't be the lesser of two evils."