How the Republican Primaries Always End

Like a lot of other people, I’ve been a little surprised at how little Romney’s record on health-care has hurt him. My latest Bloomberg View column is on why nobody should have been surprised: At least since Reagan, the establishment has always fended off conservative challenges to win the presidential nomination. But the establishment has to keep moving right in order to do it.

The funny thing is that even though Romney is running as the “moderate,” rather than the “conservative,” in the race, his actual positions are to the right of the ones he had in 2008. For example, he signed a pledge to oppose raising the debt ceiling until Congress passes a Balanced Budget Amendment. Like previous successful establishment candidates, he is placating the party base.

And that’s how it works in the Republican Party, post- Ronald Reagan. The establishment gets the nominations, and the conservatives get the party.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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