“There’s this kind of crazy, not crazy, but kind of bewildering assumption on the part of the Republican establishment that it’s just obvious that Mitt Romney’s the most qualified guy,” he said. “So if you’re not for him it’s because you’re either kind of an ideological purist or some kind of, you know, troublemaker or tea party lunatic or something.
“It’s like, really? Is it so obvious that he was that much better a governor of Massachusetts than Rick Santorum was a Senator from Pennsylvania? Or even with all his problems, Newt Gingrich was after all Speaker of the House and did some pretty important things there for four years,” Kristol added. “It wasn’t like he was considered the best governor in America or something. ... The one most distinctive thing he did was obviously Romneycare.”
He allowed that polling shows Romney doing better in a head-to-head matchup with President Barack Obama but argued Santorum might appeal more to a different type of independent voter.
Romney “does appeal to a certain kind of independent who is important to appeal to; let’s call it a socially moderate, fiscal conservative business suburban type, who are incidentally the kinds of independents that journalists tend to know personally and live next door to,” Kristol said.
“It’s not clear he appeals as well as Santorum would to the other kind of swing voter: the lower-middle-class churchgoing Reagan Democrat from exurban Toledo,” he added. “I’d kind of like to see these guys actually go campaign. Let’s see what happens when some states actually vote.”
A spokeswoman for Romney did not respond to a request for comment.