Bob Vander Plaats is a undeniably a heavyweight amongst social conservatives in Iowa. That’s why his statements this weekend sting Mitt Romney. Additionally, it says Mitt isn’t a serious contender in Iowa. Here’s what Vander Plaats said:

“Romney was the only one who stiffed us,” influential Iowa social conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats complained after a presidential candidate forum organized by the family values-focused organization he runs in the state.

“I think that’s gone with his persona and how he’s treating, Iowa, which happens to be a swing state. And he wants to win the presidency, which tells me that he lacks judgment,” Vander Plaats told reporters. “And if he lacks judgment I think people all across America have to say, ‘is he the right candidate?’”

Vander Plaats isn’t the only Iowa Republican who isn’t happy with Gov. Romney:

Romney’s absence was also felt at an event hall in nearby Altoona, Iowa where the state’s Republican Gov. Terry Branstad was celebrating his 65th birthday at a fundraising dinner.

“I would’ve preferred if Mitt Romney had came, had come to the event,” Branstad told ABC News at his party where he mingled with the same six candidates who spoke at the earlier forum.

It was the latest in a torrent of criticism directed at Romney by Branstad, who has been scolding the former Massachusetts governor for spending far less time in this state than he did as a presidential candidate four years ago. The governor said he was “assured that Romney is intending to be back this coming week and spend a lot more time here,” but offered no words of praise for the candidate who ranks third in support among Republican voters here, according to a poll released last week.

Mitt’s hiding from Iowa voters is stupid. Whether he realizes it or not, he’s writing Iowa off, both for the caucuses and in the general election.

Shame on Mitt for not embracing a robust 50 state strategy. That’s what confident candidates do. Hiding from serious talk shows, starting with Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer, Meet the Press with David Gregory and the other Sunday talk shows says that he’s too intimidated by the media.

Whoever is the GOP nominee will get hit with the Obama smear campaign barrage. Newt gets that and isn’t hiding from it. Instead, he’s preparing himself for the inevitable barrage.

By comparison, Mitt’s strategy has been timid, like the weakling who’s afraid of his own shadow. Mitt’s defense of his strategy is timid or worse:

In an interview at the party, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, hardly mentioned Romney’s name, but the influential congressman ticked off a list of reasons why several of his opponents were better positioned to chart a path to victory here. Iowa holds the country’s first presidential caucuses, the results of which will help shape expectations for the rest of the primary season.

From more than 1,000 miles away, Romney defended his decision to skip both Republican events in Iowa on Saturday.

“We’ve had a couple of events in Iowa I’ve been there several time I’ll be there this coming week,” Romney said after a campaign event in New Hampshire, which took place at roughly the same time his rivals assembled together in Des Moines. “I’ve said form the very beginning we intend to play in Iowa and I want to do very well there.”

People understand that Mitt’s actions don’t automatically match his words. Saying that “from the beginning, we intend to play in Iowa and I want to do very well there” is meaningless if it isn’t backed up by actions. He’s only made 4 appearances in Iowa since jumping into the race since June. What’s with that?

Mitt’s unwillingness to take a stand or to lead is infamous:

“Whether it’s the debt ceiling debate, the Ohio ballot initiatives, or military action in Libya, Mitt Romney has been either unwilling or unable to offer a clear position on issues important to voters,” said Tim Miller, candidate Jon Huntsman’s spokesman. “Leadership requires taking a stand on tough issues, even if it carries political risk.”

Huntsman’s campaign isn’t the place where Mitt’s taking criticism from:

For as long as he’s been the Republican front-runner, Mitt Romney has avoided taking firm positions on high-stakes Washington spending debates.

This week’s example: The former Massachusetts governor’s refusal to endorse or oppose a deficit-cutting plan introduced by members of his own party, with a key deadline looming. Romney’s cautiousness builds on the play-it-safe approach he has employed on issues ranging from Medicare overhauls to debt-ceiling negotiations, drawing criticism from GOP rivals and raising questions among uncommitted Republicans.

“It’s a risky move to not take a position,” said Michael Dennehy, a New Hampshire-based Republican operative who led Sen. John McCain’s presidential bid four years ago. “When there’s going to be intense scrutiny in these final seven weeks, voters are going to want to see someone who is showing their capacity to lead.”

Mitt could continue with his general election campaign strategy because the previous non-Romneys didn’t have the talent and staying power and star presence that Newt has. Now that activists are making final decisions or are preparing for making their final decisions, people will focus on three things: vision, fight and leadership.

Saying that Mitt isn’t a leader isn’t accurate. It’s more than accurate to say that he hasn’t displayed an overabundance of leadership during the campaign. Saying that “and I’ll get it done” during debates sounds nice but where’s the proof?

At some point, Mitt will have to show he’s willing to go all in. He’ll have to prove that he’ll take fight for conservative principles. Signing Ted Kennedy’s health care legislation into law isn’t proof that Mitt will fight for conservative principles.

Not staking out detailed principles on the debt ceiling fight isn’t proof that Mitt will fight for conservative principles, either.

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9 Responses to “Romney loses Thanksgiving Family Forum “by far””

  • Linna says:

    I can say this because I’m from Iowa.

    I am totally disgusted with Iowa voters who will vote for theatrical tears rather than someone who can elevate our country and restore the American Dream like Governor Romney.

    Everyone knows that Romney was stiffed in 2008 after Huckabee’s attack on mormons. It is insane in this serious market that the so-called religious right will judge another person’s religious freedom. This is immoral! Freedom of religion is our constitutional right. Michael Reagan said “We’re not electing a minister, we’re electing a President.” Romney could be the next Reagan.

  • Gary Gross says:

    First, Michael Reagan is right. We aren’t electing a pope or a minister. We’re electing a president. Second, Romney isn’t the next Reagan because a) there’s only one Ronald Reagan & b) Mitt isn’t the leader that Reagan was or that Newt is. Mitt’s list of conservative accomplishments can’t be viewed without a microscope. Newt’s conservative accomplishments are Welfare reform, balancing the budget 4 straight years, including the biggest surplus in U.S. history, assisting Jack Kemp in enacting the Kemp-Roth tax cuts that were the centerpiece of Reagan’s revolution & putting together the coalition of candidates that led to the 1994 Republican takeover of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1954.

  • J. Ewing, says:

    I guess I don’t read all that much into what you quote here. Up until very recently, Newt Gingrich didn’t have much of a campaign in Iowa, and had not spent s great deal of time there. I don’t think Romney needs to do that well in Iowa, either. Finishing in the top three or four will be good enough, so long as he can win in New Hampshire, where he has a natural advantage of being from Massachusetts next door. It is like the advantage Michelle Bachmann supposedly enjoyed in Iowa.

    Oh, and I will point out that Bob Vander Plaats is not universally popular in Iowa. He is a polarizing figure and has been defeated in at least some of his elections. He is obviously more bold than Mitt Romney. You may be right that Romney’s lack of boldness, based on his presumptive front-runner status, may quickly become his undoing if he ceases to be the front runner after Iowa. And if he loses New Hampshire, as it now appears he may, I think he’s toast.

  • Bob J. says:

    Linna, the only way Myth Romney could be the next Reagan is if he changes his name. Though I did hear he was considering changing it to “Generic Republican”.

  • Adam T. says:

    This blog post is ridiculous and completely biased. It is too bad that it is expressed as fact rather than opinion – otherwise it might be excusable as a work of opinion. As it is, this is categorically false and skewed.

    Those who want another 4 years of Obamination should vote for someone other than Romney. The crazy (so-called) “christian” conservatives should get over themselves and their judgmental nature and go read their scriptures again. I think that they may have missed a few key verses.

    If you want change and improvement, with a conservative christian leader, and no more obamination – vote for Mitt Romney.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Adam, you’re sounding a bit overjudgmental. Take a valium or something.

    First, prove that my post “is categorically false & skewed.” Next, prove that Mitt’s the only Republican who can defeat President Obama. Third, prove that Mitt won’t revert to Massachusetts Mitt. Massachusetts Mitt is the one who signed Obamacare into law & who hired radical environmental activist John Holdren to help write his environmental laws, including Mitt’s signing an executive order that “imposed the toughest CO2 emission caps in the nation”. That’s also the EO that “imposed price caps to keep power companies from passing the cost along to the consumer.”

  • MJ Stan says:

    obama will Body Slam mitt if Rom wins the nomination.
    Newt will Body Slam obama if he gets nominated.

  • eric z. says:

    Ron Paul is the only Republican with a chance to win.

    The GOP regulars will never let him be the candidate.

    They’d fear the ghost of Nelson Rockefeller would arise to haunt them if they ever ran Ron Paul.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Ron Paul won’t be the next POTUS for a simple reason: POTUS is also the commander-in-chief. Ron Paul wants to unilaterally disarm the United States. Sane people fear that he’d leave the U.S. totally vulnerable. That’s why he won’t be the next POTUS.

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