Mitt Romney on Saturday addressed a Republican convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, his former stomping grounds as king of the 2002 Winter Olympics. But Romney's message urging support for Senator Bob Bennett fell on deaf ears.
In the end, the GOP faithful in deep-red Utah rejected their incumbent Senator, ousting Bennet from the primary and ending his hopes of re-election in the fall. Political pundits are saying the tea party insurgency on the right has claimed another scalp.
But what about Romney? Why would the likely presidential candidate go out on a limb for a political ally he likely knew was going to fail?
On the The Corner blog at the website of the conservative National Review, writer Robert Costa comes up with several reasons, including because Bennett voted for the Wall Street bailout (which Romney supported) and has defended the individual mandate at the heart of RomneyCare.
But Costa speculates that Romney, who in his 2008 campaign for president was considered "a little too calculating, a little too cool," is sticking his neck out to show that, heck, he stands for something.
With Saturday's speech, Romney's hoping that voters will remember a man who stood up for a friend, not the easy political option. It's a gamble that comes with a twist. While he gets a hat tip from some for backing a loser out of principle, he also showed that he has little sway with the group that ousted Bennett, folks who seemingly could care less about Romney's stand. For a probable presidential candidate, that's disquieting.
Costa goes on to state that Romney's standing up for Bennett was "refreshing," and shows "he can lead."
That weak endorsement sounds a little flat after admitting that the "too calculating" Romney is also "a flip-flopper" on policy. Coming from the usually Romney-friendly National Review, that's gotta hurt.