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Romney enlists Roy Blunt, Washington insider and longtime conservative

September 20, 2011|By Michael Muskal
  • Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), right, with fellow senators in July.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), right, with fellow senators in July. (Brendan Smialowski / Getty…)

Sen. Roy Blunt, a key Republican political insider, will head Mitt Romney’s effort to secure congressional support for the former Massachusetts governor’s presidential bid, the latest move by the GOP establishment to close ranks for 2012.

The announcement of Blunt’s campaign role comes as some Republicans seek to stop Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the leader for the GOP nod, and amid polls that show that Romney may have a slightly better chance to unseat President Obama. There is already talk in some Republican circles that, Perry, who has greater support among staunch conservatives such as those in the “tea party” movement, is unable to appeal to independents needed by the GOP to keep control of the House and to possibly win the Senate.

“It is an honor to have Roy’s support,” Romney said in a prepared statement. “He has always been a champion of taxpayers and small business owners, and I know that he will be an effective liaison in sharing my vision for America with his colleagues in both the House and the Senate.”

In the same statement distributed by the campaign, Blunt (R-Mo.), stressed Romney’s commitment to job creation, a key issue that Perry has been using against Romney.

"Our nation faces historic challenges today, and under President Obama’s policies, we’ve witnessed high unemployment, skyrocketing debt, out-of-control spending, and burdensome regulations that have stifled job creation," said Blunt, a former House whip elected to the Senate in 2010. "Through his experience in the private sector and as governor, I believe Mitt has the right background to help create more economic certainty and spur job growth in Missouri and nationwide."

A longstanding conservative as well as an establishment figure, Blunt could help polish Romney’s image among both conservatives and Washington insiders.

A former House whip elected to the Senate in 2010, Blunt is both an establishment figure and a longstanding conservative, he also helps polish Romney’s image in that area as well as with Washington insiders.

There has been talk in Republican circles that Perry might be too dangerous to run in 2012 because he demonstrates little appeal to independents. Some in the GOP point to 1972, when liberal Sen. George McGovern won the Democratic nomination for president and lost to Richard Nixon in a landslide with long-lasting political consequences.

A USA Today/Gallup poll released Tuesday shows that Perry leads Romney 31% to 24% among Republicans. Both are running well ahead of the field, with only one other candidate -- Texas Rep. Ron Paul -- scoring in double digits.

But the poll also finds that a majority of Republicans, 53%, would prefer to see their party nominate the person who has the best chance of beating Obama, even if that person does not agree with them on almost all of the issues.  

Romney edges out Obama in the poll, 49% to 47%, while Perry trails the incumbent, 45% to 50%. But neither of those margins is considered statistically significant.

The USA Today/Gallup results are based on phone interviews with 1,004 adults conducted Sept. 15 to 18. For questions asked of everyone surveyed, the reported margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points. For questions asked only of the 439 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents surveyed, the margin of error is plus or minus six percentage points.

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