In 2006, our efforts at the Memphis Southern Republican Leadership Conference were completely under the radar, designed to surprise the political establishment. And we did.
In 2010, however, things are a bit different. Mitt Romney — as one of the recognized Republican frontrunners for the nomination — isn’t going to sneak up on anyone. So we’re taking a different approach and are broadcasting our efforts to encourage Mitt to run.
Already, some folks have noticed. I was particularly intrigued by this section of Marc Ambinder’s piece on his Atlantic site:
The Hotline had the honor to conduct the 2006 straw poll. Fortunately for Bill Frist, the event was held in Memphis, TN. Unfortunately for Bill Frist, his team was scared to death that their guy wouldn’t be able to win a heavily-covered event in his home state. He did — by a small margin. Mitt Romney placed second, largely on the strength of organized support by groups like Evangelicals for Mitt. (Still to this day there is a debate about whether Romney somehow directly paid for his votes. I don’t think he did, but some McCain folks will swear to it.) President Bush placed third — John McCain attended the straw poll, only to suddenly announce that politics wasn’t relevant during wartime and that volunteers should vote for Bush instead.
Mitt did place second largely on the strength of the support organized by EFM (to be clear, however, this site didn’t exist at the time, and we hadn’t even settled on a name for our little endeavor), but Governor Romney did not pay for his votes. We raised money for the conference effort ourselves, using our own money and raising the rest through our network of friends.
That’s how we did things in 2006, and that’s how we’ll do things this year. Yes, we’ll pay for a limited number of conference registrations. The funding for this is not coming from Mitt Romney or his PAC. Just like 2006, we’ll raise our own funds using our own network of friends. I know it’s hard to believe in this cynical age, but sometimes people do exercise their own independent initiative because they believe a (potential) candidate is right for America.
In the next day or so, I’ll post an FAQ so that first-time readers can understand more fully who we are, what we did in the 2008 election cycle, and what we intend to do this time.
In the meantime, however, if you want to help us encourage Mitt to run, email Nancy, and let’s get the ball rolling!