If Romney hoped well-heeled conservative advocates would come running to his rescue after his remarks about the poor and middle class sent his campaign into a tailspin, he’ll have to look elsewhere.
His right-leaning campaign hasn’t convinced conservatives that he’s one of them, according to Club for Growth president Chris Chocola.
“This may sound strange, but we’re doing nothing to improve his odds,” Chocola said Thursday in Washington at a breakfast roundtable hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “We’re not really involved in the presidential race. … We didn’t make an endorsement in the Republican primary process, not because we didn’t want to but because there wasn’t a candidate that we thought we could recommend to our members.”
Club for Growth — perhaps more than any other organization on the right — has aggressively supported conservative candidates against incumbent Republicans in an effort to push the GOP toward its pro-business, libertarian brand of conservatism. The group’s dissatisfaction with Romney has been well documented.
On Thursday, Chocola told reporters again that Romney troubles conservatives, citing in particular his rhetorical opposition to lax trade rules with China.
“He has potential to exceed expectations,” Chocola said. “[B]ut it’s a mixed bag with Romney, and that’s his problem, is that people don’t really know.”
Chocola added that he didn’t think the now-infamous 47 percent remarks would be a huge drag on Romney or down-ticket candidates.
“I’m not sure it matters that much,” he told reporters. “I really don’t know that the average voters who hasn’t already made up his mind is really thinking about those comments all that much.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.