If Barack Obama is reelected, Sen. Rand Paul will declare his candidacy for president before the year is over. If Mitt Romney is elected, the spectre of a Rand Paul primary challenge may force Romney to govern like a conservative, rather than a Massachusetts moderate.
I take comfort in that thought when I see headlines like this: "Romney's Transition Leader Favors Implementing Obamacare." That's the sort of headline that gives conservatives heart arrhythmia. It's a disingenuous headline, as it turns out, because the transition team member is implementing "exchanges," which could be done as a market reform to decrease the cost of health care. It is not as if Team Romney was arguing in favor of the individual mandate, for example
Sure, there are conservatives who oppose the state-run health insurance exchanges. The point here is not the merits of this part of Obamacare, but rather that conservatives will be closely monitoring how a President Romney governs. Many of us had doubts about him, but see him as out best chance of -- literally -- saving the country from the disastrous consequences of a second Obama term.
Romney has unified the base with the prospect of defeating Obama. If Romney then drifts to the center after elected, he will be risking a primary challenge. This is a real possibility -- one that Romney should keep in mind with each policy choice.
Conservatives are backing Romney now that he is the nominee. But unlike Sen. Paul, Romney is not in the Circle of Trust.