An Open Letter to Jim DeMint

Dear Senator DeMint:

By the numbers, we are yet very early in the presidential primaries. 1144 delegates are needed to sew up the nomination, and depending how you count these things, Mitt Romney has maybe 13 delegates after finishing Iowa in a de facto tie with Rick Santorum and thumping Ron Paul in New Hampshire last night. But presidential primary races are often about perception: like wars, you more often win them by convincing the other side that further resistance is futile than by total, to-the-last-man annihilation. And so the coming South Carolina primary is widely recognized as the last realistic chance to stop Romney, or at least visibly slow his momentum and eliminate the divisions among conservative candidates that have thus far precluded a unified opposition. Romney has been lining up endorsements (including SC Governor Nikki Haley), money and favorable press from conservative journalists to create an air of inevitability that he hopes will end this race by Florida, if not South Carolina. I think it is fair to say that a great many grassroots conservative activists view the prospect of a Romney candidacy with varying shades of dismay.

We may yet, indeed, be stuck with Romney. And I know you were one of a good number of conservatives to endorse him in 2008 as a tactical move to stop John McCain, so the pull of some consistency (as well as longstanding disagreements with Rick Santorum) must be drawing you back to support him again. But even if we do end up with Romney – indeed, especially if we do – it will be terribly damaging for the conservative movement if you endorse or in any way assist him while there is still a race on. Let me explain why.

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