DeMint’s office ruins Romney’s day

DEMINT’S OFFICE RUINS ROMNEY’S DAY…. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), arguably the Senate’s most right-wing member, endorsed Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2008. I guess that’s not going to happen again.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) “would never consider” endorsing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president again in 2012 unless Romney repudiates the health reforms he sought as governor, a source close to DeMint said Thursday.

A source close to the conservative icon emphasized that, despite comments to The Hill indicating that Romney shouldn’t shoulder all the political blame for the Massachusetts healthcare plan, DeMint wouldn’t endorse Romney again unless Romney were to admit the plan was mistaken.

“It’s obvious Jim was just trying to be nice to the guy he backed over McCain, as many conservatives did in 2008,” said the source. “But he would never consider backing Romney again unless he admits that his Massachusetts health care plan was a colossal mistake.”

There’s a lot of this going around. Mike Huckabee wants Romney to apologize for his only major policy accomplishment; Rudy Giuliani is urging him to reverse course; Karl Rove wants Romney to admit he was wrong; and prominent conservative activists throughout the GOP base are demanding that he “acknowledge he made a mistake.”

DeMint, however, is of particular interest. In 2008, the South Carolinian was largely unknown. In 2011, he’s a far-right kingmaker with a political operation so large, it may rival the NRSC’s next year. DeMint’s presidential endorsement will be one of the most widely-sought in the entire party next year.

In fairness to Romney, if DeMint really is waiting for the former governor to “admit” his health care policy was a “colossal mistake,” it makes DeMint look worse than Romney. After all, Romney’s health care policy was already complete and in place when DeMint endorsed his presidential campaign. In the years since, the policy has worked extremely well. If it was a “colossal mistake,” why didn’t DeMint notice three years ago? Did DeMint not look into this before making his endorsement?

We know the truth — DeMint doesn’t like “RomneyCare” because of its striking similarities to the Affordable Care Act — but that doesn’t make it any less foolish.

For the record, there’s simply no way for Romney to do as the far-right asks. It’s simply too late.

It was Romney’s signature accomplishment during his one term as governor — his only experience in public office. It demonstrated his ability to tackle major policy challenges and work with members of both parties to pass a sensible, mainstream legislative milestone. It was the sort of thing a governor could build a presidential campaign around.

Just a few weeks ago, Romney’s spokesperson said, “Mitt Romney is proud of what he accomplished for Massachusetts in getting everyone covered.”

Of course he is, and he should be, but reality has surprisingly little value in GOP politics in the 21st century.

Romney has flip-flopped on practically every issue imaginable, but the one position he has to stick to is the one Republicans find wholly unacceptable.

Update: Greg Sargent turns up a gem, noting that DeMint praised Romney’s record on health care when he endorsed the governor in ’08. Indeed, as far as DeMint was concerned at the time, the Massachusetts law was based on “good conservative ideas.”

In 2008, this made perfect sense — remember, the indidivual mandate, which now causes hysterical breakdowns in GOP circles was a Republican idea — and wasn’t the least bit controversial. In 2011, it’s apparently a different story.