Henry Olsen, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism, said Mitt Romney appeared to prioritize “investors’ profits” over “American jobs,” which contributed to the former Massachusetts governor’s failure to win the presidency in 2012. He offered his remarks in a Thursday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.
Romney described President Donald Trump as a man whose character falls short in Tuesday-published Washington Post opinion editorial: “Trump’s character falls short. … With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
Olsen wrote a response to Romney — published in the Washington Post on Wednesday — entitled, “Mitt Romney’s op-ed crystallizes all the reasons the old GOP establishment has been pushed aside.”
Olsen said, “Mitt Romney had a great chance to be President of the United States, and he blew it. He blew it because he didn’t talk about the things that were making people insecure. He wasn’t talking about an economy in a way that made them think that he cared about them. He didn’t talk about immigration in a way that made them think that he was serious about it. He didn’t talk about trade in a way that made them think that he cared more about American jobs than investors’ profits.”
Olsen added, “Romney was shocked. His pollsters told him he was going to win. They were all prepared to win, but the evidence was there all along that the people who gave Trump the presidency rejected Mitt Romney because he did not share their values.”
Olsen continued, “The biggest problem I see in Washington is that most Republican elected officials and most Republican elites still wish that this was the party where the argument was between Romney and Cruz, and it’s not.”
Olsen went on, “It’s not [between Romney and Cruz], because Donald Trump picked up the hundred-dollar bill that had been lying in front of them for about a decade, and cashed it. And that’s the hundred-dollar bill of dissatisfied blue collar workers who want a government that’s limited in its scope but active in the protection of Americans because they are Americans. They think they can put the genie back in the bottle by getting rid of the president. Well, good luck. The fact is, this is what people wanted for years. They’ve had a taste of the apple. They like it, and they’re going to expect the next Republican leader to follow suit, or they’re going to abandon the party.”
Olsen assessed left-wing proposals from self-described “democratic socialists” — including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) — as unappealing to “working class” and “blue collar” Americans.
“The AOC approach is a non-starter with most of the working class,” said Olsen. “They don’t want a big government, heavy, high-tax, high-benefit state. What they want is what they had. They want their jobs back, and they want to stop being subjected to what they consider to be unfair competition. There’s nothing that AOC or her allies would do about that sort of competition [for jobs], particularly from people who come here — whether legally or illegally — and who compete with these people for the jobs.
Trump’s appeal to “working class voters” was key to winning the presidency, appraised Olsen.
“In 2016, I think the way to understand what happened was, there were really three party primaries,” judged Olsen. “There was a Democratic primary between Clinton and Sanders. There was a Republican primary between 17 people, and there was a working class primary between Sanders and Trump, and the working class voters who heard both of those people — and in most states could’ve gone either way because they don’t have party registration — overwhelmingly chose Trump, and a lot of the people who chose Sanders did so knowing that they would vote for Trump if their guy lost. There is no appeal to the AOC-type of policy among the actual working class voters.”
“There’s nothing about the left of the Democratic Party that interests the TIGRs [Trump Is Great Republicans],” concluded Olsen.
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