National Review endorses Mitt Romney

The editors of the National Review have endorsed Mitt Romney for president. They have thus made far more progress than me — I’ve been unable to eliminate even one member of what used to be considered the top tier (Romney, Giuliani, McCain, and Thompson).
To oversimplify only a little, the National Review’s case boils down to this: (1) only Romney, McCain, and Thompson can hold the conservative base together, (2) McCain isn’t as conservative as Romney, (3) Thompson lacks Romney’s administrative experience and has not even convinced voters that he wants to be president.
It’s not a bad case but, among other matters, I believe it glosses over the fact that holding the base together, while most likely a necessary condition for winning the election, is not a sufficient one. To satisfy the “viability” prong of National Review’s stated test (nominate the most conservative viable candidate), the nominee will also need appeal beyond the base. The editors don’t show that Romney has that appeal, and given the campaign he’s been running it’s not clear that he does.
JOHN adds: I think the NR endorsement is a real coup for Romney. Endorsements in general are overrated, but if there is one endorsement a conservative would like to have, it’s probably NR’s. Sort of like Oprah on the left.
Also, for what it’s worth, I’m a bit ahead of Paul in the elimination process: I’ve eliminated Thompson. Anyone whose campaign goes steadily downhill once he officially enters the race is not a good choice to retain the White House. The remaining “big three” are all fine with me. Lots of conservatives seem to focus on the shortcomings of Romney, McCain and Giuliani. I think that’s a little misguided. The fact that a given candidate is not ideal in one way or another is not exactly a news flash. What strikes me about these three candidates is not their imperfections, but rather their extraordinary strengths. When have we had a candidate with Romney’s management skills and business experience, or McCain’s integrity and heroic history, or Giuliani’s toughness and extraordinary record of executive accomplishment? News reports uniformly assume that Republican voters are undecided because they are unimpressed with this year’s crop of candidates. For some of us, at least, the opposite is the case.
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