If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
A Daily Beast column lays out a strategy for how former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, can fend off the suddenly viable U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who is rising in the polls. The suggestions -- that Romney should expose her inexperience, avoid tarnishing his reputation by attacking her and cede the evangelical vote to her -- are all sound, but the most intriguing possibility appears at the bottom of the piece: a Romney-Bachmann ticket.
Everywhere I go I keep hearing that the two of them together would be powerful, national campaign consultant Chuck Warren told the Daily Beast.
The two candidates represent opposite ends of the Republican ideological spectrum: Mitt Romney is a tough-to-ruffle establishment candidate who eschews social issues and is mostly reticent about his Mormon faith, while Bachmann is a fiery insurgent who has defied party leadership and appeals strongly to evangelical Christians and the religious right. This discrepancy has emerged in Bachmann's strategy to focus on Iowa while Romney campaigns elsewhere, and in Romney's refusal to sign a pro-family pledge that earned Bachmann condemnations when she endorsed it for the document's reference to slavery.
A Romney-Bachmann ticket offers the potential of unifying the Republican party in the big tent that once gave it such broad appeal -- fiscally-minded moderate conservatives would be drawn to Romney's steadiness and experience, while Bachmann has instant allure for the Tea Party base that could provide a needed jolt of voter enthusiasm.
Ultimately, though, the fractures in the Grand Old Party may run too deep. Romney has built his campaign on being the reasonable candidate who stands above the fray of political combat, while Bachmann thrives on strife and divisive social issues. Romney would cast himself as a compromiser, while Bachmann -- as seen in her unwavering opposition to raising the debt ceiling -- finds sustenance in the anti-Obama, unyielding far right. Romney presided over a law promising universal health care in Massachusetts, and Bachmann has been a leading voice inveighing against 'Obamacare.'
Romney-Bachmann 2012? Don't buy bumper stickers just yet.