The Abe Lincoln Four-Step
Romney had organizational failures, but, more important, he did not campaign with passion.


Orca, the closest Republican approximation to the Abe Lincoln Four-Step in 2012, was put in place by the Romney campaign, not by the Republican National Committee or state parties. No doubt analysts will discuss the collapse of Romney’s Election Day organization for many years. Don’t expect officials of the Romney campaign to document the extent of this devastating problem. Perhaps the Republican National Committee will.

But many other explanations for Romney’s defeat are being given. One of my favorites was told to me two days after the election by a distinguished Leadership Institute donor. He said: “Back in 1948, when I was a young man, my grandfather told me that Tom Dewey would lose the election to Harry Truman, even though the polls all predicted a Dewey victory. ‘Dewey doesn’t relate to the common man,’ my grandfather said. ‘If I had charge of him, I’d shave off that moustache, roll him around in the dirt for a while, and then send him out to campaign.’” There may be some validity to that donor’s analogy.

A somewhat different problem is that Mitt Romney ran a campaign in which he passed up many opportunities to duke it out with President Obama. Romney focused on appearing “presidential,” as many people said and wrote during the final weeks of the campaign.

On the other hand, in his advertising and in his speeches, Barack Obama was constantly on the offensive. After all, what would one expect from a disciple of Saul Alinsky? Hate targeting? Character assassination? Fanning envy and class warfare? Raging against political “enemies”? Inciting “revenge”? Promising something for nothing? Yep! These themes are familiar to anyone who has observed “progressives” — read: leftist ideologues — in action.

Romney kept his general-election campaign above the fray and never thundered about many issues on which there was or could have been sharp disagreement — such as federal spending, the national debt, social issues, Obamacare, and the Benghazi scandal.

Romney deliberately chose to appear distinguished and “presidential,” which in this context meant not passionate.

Perhaps the common man is looking for more passion in a presidential nominee. You will remember that Ronald Reagan showed firm and unyielding passion for his principles and managed to say unpleasant things pleasantly.

The final popular-vote totals are not yet in, but it is clear that Mitt Romney received fewer votes in 2012 than John McCain did in 2008.

Among those millions who supported Romney, he generated a lot of enthusiasm. This led many, perhaps most, of his supporters to think he was going to win. But no one should deny that millions of conservative Americans simply did not vote, many more than Barack Obama’s margin of victory.

One must wonder how many of those people would have come out to vote for a 2012 Republican nominee who was willing to lead moral outrage against President Obama and the entire leftist agenda.

— Morton Blackwell is president of the Leadership Institute and the Republican national committeeman of Virginia.