Massachusetts with Mitt Romney as Governor became the testing ground for gay marriage, which Romney revisionists would have you believe he fought more than he actually did, and socialized medicine, which Mitt Romney is still quite proud of.
The United States with Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House saw welfare reformed and the budget balanced.
Mitt Romney once said he supported abortion rights because his mother did. His wife gave money to Planned Parenthood. As Governor he made numerous pro-abortion appointments. Newt Gingrich has always been solidly on the side of life.
Unfortunately for Mitt Romney, he is so bad a candidate that National Review cannot even use the word endorsement in their endorsement. They describe it as "winnowing the field," but they stack the field for declaring that he and two guys barely at 2% in the national polling (Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum) are the only viable candidates.
As one of National Reviews online commenters notes:
So you eliminate all the southerners, all the evangelicals (and former ones), and the only midwesterner.
You eliminate all of Romney's rivals who poll above the margin of error and leave only him and two guys who can't crack the 2% barrier.
Then you present us with this three-card choice, casually placing the one you're subtly "forcing" on everyone in the middle. But you're not endorsing Romney.
If National Review wants to endorse or not endorse that's fine by me, but trying to sell us Romney with a non-endorsement endorsement that makes Clinton's non-denial denial about Lewinsky look honest is a bit much.
The fact is Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have huge vulnerabilities. The base is being asked to choose between two cults of personality, neither of which are actually very conservative. But for all of Gingrich's mouthiness and new-age silliness, he got a federal budget balanced and welfare reformed while Mitt Romney was out at the same time shunning Ronald Reagan and funding Planned Parenthood.
I've got huge issues with both candidates and continue to scratch my head in amazement that the top two candidates are about as conservative as some members of the old Democratic Leadership Council. But — and being real honest here — while Gingrich has vulnerabilities as to style and substance, so does Mitt.
At a time when a majority of Americans regardless of party identification are contemptuous of Wall Street, Mitt Romney the vulture capitalist will be a caricature for everything that ails America. Scores of workers laid off in a Romney led restructuring of businesses will be on TV talking about the jobs he killed and the money he made. And just as Americans start to get tired of him, the media will decide we must have a full and public airing of what Mormons actually believe and their record on race relations. When the right screams about the media never doing the same with Jeremiah Wright, they'll ignore us with the "old news" line.
It is amazing to me the GOP is headed where it is with a nominee. It is more amazing to me that so many Washington conservatives have hitched their wagon to the one guy who wholly does not fit the spirit of this election and whose governing legacy in Massachusetts is the state level equivalent of Barack Obama's federal legacy. Hell, Obama is even using some of Mitt's old appointees.
One thing is for sure today though. With Paul Ryan turning his back on his own plan it becomes harder to attack Newt Gingrich for his criticisms of the Ryan plan. With National Review going full on Team Mittens, suddenly the guy who was once Speaker of the United States House of Representatives is standing on the outside looking in at the establishment so many grassroots activists have already rejected.