"Mitt Romney, he said, 'I am severe conservative.' What does it mean?"
I'm in the back of a cab headed for Dulles the morning after CPAC, talking politics with my driver, Anthony. An Ethiopian immigrant who came to America twenty years ago, he listens to talk-radio programs every day throughout his shift and watches cable news when he gets home. He likes to jump around the dial, get all the viewpoints. He's upset that the race's most qualified candidate, Jon Huntsman — a name I hadn't heard uttered throughout the entirety of CPAC — had already dropped out of the race. "This man speaks many languages!" Anthony says at one point, perplexed as to how this, but one of Huntsman's impressive traits, failed to impress the GOP electorate. Along with many other political observers, Anthony is baffled by Romney's description of himself as a "severely conservative" governor during his CPAC speech on Friday.
"This is good ad for Obama campaign now," he says. "Severe!" He laughs to himself. "Even I am not politician, and I would not take this one if I am speaking, you know? 'Yes, I am a conservative, yes I am this, I am this.' That's enough. Severe conservative?" He laughs again.
"He made a big mistake," Anthony adds.
Like many cab drivers, Anthony boasts a practical, common-sense type of wisdom about the world. "If I have this much money, why I run for president?" he wonders about Romney. "I relax! I go Africa, Europe. For what? Tell me. Why I suffer? Just for name? To be a president? No! I have money, I have to relax. That's it. Take a cruise. That's it. Life is short. You are struggling these two years — for what?"