Romney Speaks to Americans for Prosperity
In an apparent effort to appeal to tea party activists, who are expected to prove hugely influential in determining the 2012 Republican nominee for President, candidate Mitt Romney spoke to Americans for Prosperity's "Defending the Dream" summit this past Friday, offering his most detailed proposals to date for reigning in government spending.
Romney's proposed cuts would cap federal spending at 20 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (current federal spending comprises approximately 39 percent of it). Among his significant proposed reforms, he would privatize Amtrak (saving $1.6 billion) and curtail public funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which runs PBS) and the Legal Services Corporation (which provides legal assistance that is largely duplicated by state, municipal, and philanthropic sources). His proposed cuts also include eliminating Title X family planning funding (a primary source of funding for Planned Parenthood) and reducing foreign assistance by $100 million.
Americans for Prosperity, which maintains 34 state chapters and claims 1.8 million members, is one of several influential national organizations that have expressed support for the nation's tea party movement.
Romney's proposals, however, are proving unpersuasive to some tea party leaders and activists. Earlier today, a coalition of conservatives announced the formation of the "Not Mitt Romney" coalition, which is seeking to unite conservative and tea party voters against the former Massachusetts governor. Its first advertisement
features numerous public comments by Romney that deviate substantially from established conservative policy positions, including Romney expressing support for the 2008 TARP bank bailout and distancing himself from the administration of former President Ronald Reagan.
The "Not Mitt Romney" coalition's three founders are Ali Akbar, a Republican communications consultant, John Hawkins, a conservative blogger, and Matt Mackowiak, a conservative political consultant. In a November 4 Des Moines Register
op-ed, the three wrote that Romney "is not a conservative" and criticized his historical policy positions, including pro-choice stands, refusing (until recently) to sign Americans for Tax Reform's "no tax" pledge, raising taxes during his Massachusetts governorship, and support for the Brady gun control legislation.
The three have also challenged the often-made "electability" argument for Romney, which holds that the former Massachusetts governor is the best-positioned Republican candidate to defeat President Barack Obama in the November 2012 general election. Romney lost a 1994 campaign for the U.S. Senate to Ted Kennedy and, most recently, the 2008 Republican Presidential primary to John McCain.