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George Will says Mitt Romney is hurting conservatism. Does it matter?

Columnist George Will's negative critique of Mitt Romney is evidence that conservatives may find Romney electable, but nominating him would be a lost opportunity for the ascendant right.

By Staff writer / October 30, 2011

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a town meeting in Manchester, N.H., Friday, Oct. 28, 2011.

Elise Amendola/AP

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Conservative columnist George Will says Mitt Romney “is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable; he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate.”

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Don’t hold back, Mr. Will, tell us more about the man who would be president:

“Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis,” he writes, “a technocratic Massachusetts governor who takes his bearings from ‘data’ … and who believes elections should be about (in Dukakis’s words) ‘competence,’ not ‘ideology.’ … Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for this?”

People pay attention to Will – a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist syndicated by the Washington Post and a regular TV news analyst for ABC once described by the Wall Street Journal as "perhaps the most powerful journalist in America.”

Apparently, what’s gotten under Will’s skin is what he says is Romney’s penchant for “straddling” issues, sometimes ending up with a “policy pretzel.”

Will may be unfairly harsh (he sometimes writes as if he’s just sucked a lemon or his tie is too tight), but he does reflect concern among other prominent conservatives.

“Consider, for example, a few pages from the opposition research book the McCain camp prepared against Mitt Romney in 2008,” Erick Erickson of RedState.com blogged Friday. “There was an entire section on Romney’s flip-flops.”

“The most striking thing to me is that some of Mitt Romney’s positions have flipped again for 2012,” Erickson writes. “Romney has a real trust problem he has to overcome. It seems too much an opportunist. Republicans are happy to support him, but they sure don’t want to settle for him.”

That’s the view of many neutral observers as well.

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