Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

GOP rivals snuggle up to Mitt Romney

By Gloria Borger, CNN Chief Political Analyst
September 25, 2012 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
Rep. Michele Bachmann endorses former rival Mitt Romney at a campaign event in Virginia on Thursday.
Rep. Michele Bachmann endorses former rival Mitt Romney at a campaign event in Virginia on Thursday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nearly all the GOP primary rivals are now lining up behind Mitt Romney
  • Gloria Borger says their contortions are agonizing to watch
  • She says people who lambasted Romney are now claiming he's their choice
  • Borger: Conservatives still doubt he can win, though many won't say it now

Editor's note: Gloria Borger is CNN's chief political analyst, appearing regularly on shows such as "AC360˚", "The Situation Room," "John King, USA" and "State of the Union."

(CNN) -- As the saying goes about political parties and their candidates: Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line.

And that's exactly what Republicans are doing, or trying to do.

But after this combative primary season, watching Mitt Romney's former GOP rivals struggle with ways to endorse their onetime nemesis is painful. It's like they're trying to find ways to snuggle with Darth Vader. At the very least, the contortions are a tad awkward and unseemly. And in the real world (as opposed to the political world), the result is completely unbelievable.

Gloria Borger
Gloria Borger

It's also a perfect example of why voters don't trust politicians.

Consider this: Newt Gingrich finally announced his support of Mitt Romney this week. Yet in his obvious struggle to find the right words to embrace a man he once called a liar, Gingrich came up with this tortured equation: "I am asked sometimes is Mitt Romney conservative enough? And my answer is simple — compared to Barack Obama? This is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan. This is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical leftist president in American history."

Not exactly effusive, but certainly supportive, at least compared to these Gingrich words about Romney last winter: "Why should we expect him to level about anything if he is president?" Or the time he called Romney "the most anti-immigrant candidate." Or, at a CNN debate, when he helpfully pointed out that "I don't know of any president who has had a Swiss bank account."

Well, never mind.

Bachmann throws support behind Romney
Gingrich calling Romney a liar
CNN at SXSW: Perry's advice for Romney

Ditto for Michele Bachmann. Granted, she dropped out in January and waited a long time to endorse -- until Romney was the last man standing. And she had him standing right beside her as she finally gave the nod, describing Romney as "the last chance we have to keep America ... from going over the cliff."

But wait. Is that really what Bachmann believes? As ABC's Jonathan Karl points out, Bachmann told him before the Iowa caucuses that "He (Romney) cannot beat Obama. It's not going to happen." The reason: Romney's Massachusetts health care plan, which she called "the blueprint for Obamacare."

That's exactly what Rick Santorum had been saying throughout the campaign. He's meeting with Romney Friday, but cautions against expectations of an endorsement. It will come, but probably not until Santorum extracts some policy concessions, such as a promise that Romney will never support health care mandates, according to one Santorum source. And it will be hard for Santorum to cozy up to the man whom he said would "give the issue of health care away in this election. It is too foundational for us to win the election."

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Of course, this is not the first time the vanquished have endorsed their previous opponents. (See: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Also see: John McCain endorsing Mitt Romney circa 2012.) But this primary was so divisive — and so personal — the endorsements seem that much more hollow. There's a very good reason: They are.

Conservatives still have a hard time believing Mitt Romney can beat President Obama. They may be wrong, but it's what they really believe even if many of them won't say it anymore.

And one more thing: Now that all these Republicans are getting in line to endorse Romney, it only serves as a reminder that they didn't endorse him before he had become the presumptive nominee. I mean, what was Rudy Giuliani waiting for? Come to think of it, maybe distance.

After all, America's mayor took to America's airwaves to declare that Gingrich was "the most electable Republican" in December. That was when he also told MSNBC, referring to Romney, that "I've never seen a guy ... change his position on so many things so fast, on a dime."

In the same interview, Giuliani asked a rhetorical question about how President Obama might handle Romney. His prediction: Obama would say "This is a man without a core ... I think that is a great vulnerability."

As it turns out, there's plenty of that to go around.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Gloria Borger.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Robert Hickey says most new housing development is high-end, catering to high-earners.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Alexander Motyl says as Russian President Putin snarled at Ukraine, his foreign minister was signing a conciliatory accord with the West. Whatever the game, the accord is a major stand down by Russia
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Les Abend says at every turn, the stowaway teen defied the odds of discovery and survival. What pilot would have thought to look for a person in the wheel well?
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT)
Q & A with artist Rachel Sussman on her new book of photographs, "The Oldest Living Things in the World."
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1958 GMT (0358 HKT)
Martin Blaser says the overuse of antibiotics threatens to deplete our bodies of "good" microbes, leaving us vulnerable to an unstoppable plague--an "antibiotic winter"
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1737 GMT (0137 HKT)
John Sutter asks: Is it possible to eat meat in modern-day America and consider yourself an environmentalist without being a hypocrite?
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
Sally Kohn notes that Meb Keflezighi rightly was called an American after he won the Boston Marathon, but his status in the U.S. once was questioned
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1256 GMT (2056 HKT)
Denis Hayes and Scott Denman say on this Earth Day, the dawn of the Solar Age is already upon us and the Atomic Age of nuclear power is in decline
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 2036 GMT (0436 HKT)
Retired Coast Guard officer James Loy says a ship captain bears huge responsibility.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1708 GMT (0108 HKT)
Peter Bergen says the latest strikes are part of an aggressive U.S. effort to target militants, including a bomb maker
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Cynthia Lummis and Peter Welch say 16 agencies carry out national intelligence, and their budgets are top secret. We need to know how they are spending our money.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says President Obama knows more than anyone that he has much at stake in the midterm elections.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
Eric Sanderson says if you really want to strike a blow for the environment--and your health--this Earth Day, work to get cars out of cities and create transportation alternatives
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Bruce Barcott looks at the dramatic differences in marijuana laws in Colorado and Louisiana
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 2047 GMT (0447 HKT)
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery supports the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1817 GMT (0217 HKT)
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1752 GMT (0152 HKT)
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1250 GMT (2050 HKT)
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1845 GMT (0245 HKT)
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
ADVERTISEMENT