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Why Kirk Will Endorse Romney

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Why Kirk Will Endorse Romney
Mark Kirk

Mark Kirk hasn’t chosen a presidential candidate yet, but it’s only a matter of time before he endorses Mitt Romney.

This week, Romney got the endorsements of two other prominent Illinois Republicans, Rep. Judy Biggert and former House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

“During my years in the House, I was an advocate for balanced budgets and low taxes,” Hastert said in a statement. “Mitt Romney stands up for these principles. President Obama has failed to get millions of unemployed Americans back to work. From his success in the private sector, Mitt Romney understands how to create jobs and turn around this economy. At this critical moment, our country needs his leadership in the White House.”

Romney gave Kirk $1,000 for his Senate campaign last year, but that’s not the only reason Kirk is likely to endorse him. Romney is a scion of the style of moderate Republicanism Kirk is trying to embody in the Senate. Romney’s father, George, was governor of Michigan in the 1960s. He started his political career by overseeing a state constitutional convention that prohibited the death penalty. As governor, he marched with Martin Luther King in Detroit. Later, as Secretary of Housing of Urban Development, he tried to pitch integrated public housing to Richard M. Nixon, who finally stopped him by cutting off funds for the program.

On Wednesday, Slate ran an article entitled “Mitt Romney: Liberal,” which argued that “in [the] Washington Post/Bloomberg debate, he sent multiple signals that beneath his orthodox positions on many issues—unions, stimulus-bashing, corporate tax relief—lurks some liberal thinking.” Specifically, the article accused Romney of holding liberal tendencies on bailouts, trade, health insurance and middle-class tax cuts.

As the Republican governor of a liberal state -- Massachusetts -- Romney had to adopt some liberal policies to get elected. As a Republican senator of a liberal state, Kirk has to do the same.

(Romney does not hold liberal tendencies on gay marriage. He has promised to support a constitutional amendment banning it in every state. Kirk voted against that amendment when it came before Congress.)

And Romney is going to win the nomination. Republicans believe in orderly succession, paying your dues, waiting your turn and all that. They always nominate the candidate who finished second four years before. That’s Romney. So what is Kirk waiting for? He needs to jump on the bandwagon before it turns into a campaign bus.

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