Longtime GOP stalwart (and former Reagan political director) Ed Rollins has written a fairly unremarkable CNN column analyzing the GOP resurgence . . . unremarkable, that is, until this section:
Mitt Romney continued to show that he can win straw polls. Even though he didn’t show up at the Republican conference, his “Evangelicals for Mitt” organization managed to squeak out a one-vote victory over that pesky Ron Paul. If Romney and his highly paid team ever figures out how to win primaries and delegates instead of using his staff to win straw polls, he might end up a contender.
There’s so much wrong with this that I barely know where to start. Look, I know he’s being flip, but to say that the guy who was basically one Charlie Crist endorsement away from unstoppable momentum in ’08 just “might end up a contender” is a bit much. But even when tossing throwaway lines into a column, one should do their research — especially when it is so easy.
We are not Mitt Romney’s “organization.” We support him but operate entirely on our own. We did not receive any money from him or his PAC to mount our effort in New Orleans. While Nancy worked briefly for the campaign in 2007 and worked with Ann Romney on an as-yet unpublished writing project that summer, we did not receive one dime of compensation for our immense amount of hard work in New Orleans. We are not his employees (in fact, we have pretty demanding day jobs.) We raised all the money ourselves, and we did all the work ourselves. But of course, we explained that already.
Why does that matter? Aside from the petty pride point (Hey! Stop giving the PAC credit for our work!), our New Orleans efforts were important in their own right. As any semi-sentient person knows, politics is about more than great speeches, great blogs, and personal charisma. It’s also about commitment and resources and organization. Mitt Romney did not show up in New Orleans, but his supporters raised money, worked hard, and organized to win a straw poll when the eyes of the American political media were fixed firmly upon them.
That matters. And if you don’t think so, imagine a role reversal . . . a liberal politician wins a straw poll when his supporters raised their own money and worked hard even in his total absence. The media would hail that as a triumph of the grassroots, a victory for idealism, and a symbol of how ordinary people can transform the news cycle. All of that, of course, is grotesquely overstated, but it’s how the media treats activists on the Left.
What’s the reality? It’s quite simple: working on our own we demonstrated that there is enough financial and grassroots support for Mitt Romney even at this early stage that he can win a poll at a major Republican event . . . even when he wasn’t there. Does that mean he’ll be the nominee? Of course not. Does it mean that he’ll even win a single primary. Of course not. But it does send a message to everyone else out there: Bring your “A game” because there’s a lot of people willing to work, to organize, and to put their money where their mouth is to elect Mitt Romney.
UPDATE: Charles reminds me that Ed Rollins is Mike “Mitt Romney has no soul” Huckabee’s former campaign chairman. Now the column makes more sense!