By Roger F. Gay
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Last year, when the Republican candidates were trotted out, it took less than two seconds for all the talking heads to agree that Mitt Romney is “the establishment choice.” The other “mainstream” candidates were there to put on a show, make it look like a horse race to help with their ratings, and to give the impression that Romney is a winner at the end. Ron Paul, the only serious politically conservative candidate, quickly became “the 13th floor of a hotel.” (Jon Stewart)
The other candidates also helped the media keep attention from the only genuine political contest; the establishment verses Constitutional rule; the establishment's choice verses a steadfast warrior for legitimate, limited government and the rule of law. Even more concretely, they have captured “not Romney” votes, many from people whose primary concern is that Romney not get the nomination. There are people who express their feelings about Romney by saying things like they wouldn't walk across the street to have a free breakfast with him, or more crudely, to relive themselves if he was on fire. Their votes now constitute delegates that may be turned over to Romney at the convention.
By all factors that I've been able to observe and test, the “not Romney” sentiment is much stronger than Romney support. In fact, the only “Romney supporters” I've run into lately in regular online political discussions have been paid operatives acting like thugs trying to bully and intimidate a much larger number of Paul supporters.
That may be the most famous case at this point, but it's by far not the only case. “The news” has even covered a few; railroading through whole lists of delegates, changing the rules to add delegates for Romney, vote and delegate counts emerging from behind closed doors that don't match the counts that were officially turned in. (Click here for "Reality Check" videos.) Similar problems have been reported by every caucus goer I've been in contact with, regardless of location. Their guy can't win legitimately, so yes, “the establishment” is cheating. (It's what they do.)