Last updated: February 19. 2013 4:41PM - 335 Views

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Myrtle Beach, S.C., is not a bad place to visit during the winter months. It is often a destination for older Americans who depend on Medicare and who are anxious for a week's respite from the frigid temperatures up north.

When Mitt Romney visited the Myrtle Beach Convention Center on Jan. 16 for the 16th Republican presidential primary debate, he called for an end to Medicare as we know it, substituting instead an inadequate voucher program for future senior recipients.

Romney was asked about Medicare one hour and 16 minutes into the debate sponsored by Fox News and the Wall Street Journal; the Journal's Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Seib popped the question.

Romney's response in support of a voucher, which seniors would have to carry hat-in-hand to health insurers in an attempt to purchase some coverage, warmed the hearts of far-right conservatives everywhere while cryogenically freezing his swing state numbers beneath a perceptible ceiling of strong public support for Medicare.

Take 2:

Seven months later Romney curiously doubled down on the unpopular voucher idea when he selected the architect of the voucher plan to be his running mate.

Ignoring the advice offered by In the Arena (June 24) to pick the blue-collar kid from McKees Rocks, Pa., and the current governor of Ohio, John Kasich for the VP slot, Romney instead chose Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Ryan would never deliver his home state of Wisconsin. And Romney could not win any of his.

Take 3:

The sheer number of polls released throughout the presidential campaign was staggering and they increased dramatically with each passing week.

The conservative website Realclearpolitics.com lists a large number of polls to produce a polling average, suggesting it is some measure of the race. This might be helpful if the polls and firms conducting them have a track record for accuracy. Otherwise, inaccurate polling by little known pollsters and those with a political agenda get averaged with reputable surveys, producing misleading results that might indicate a tight race in Ohio or Pennsylvania when none exists.

Last week such erroneous interpretations led many analysts astray, toward a wide range of improbable electoral vote projections, when the outcome in most swing states was never really in doubt. In the Arena got it right, 303 and possibly Florida.

Take 4:

Extremists in the Republican Party continue to dominate the GOP. A proverbial tail wagging the pachyderm, these characters are in firm control of the state and national Republican primary processes.

They are capable of defeating the esteemed U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana in a closed Republican primary with a bizarre candidate from the whacky fringe, but who ultimately shocks the senses of concerned Hoosiers who make up the November general electorate.

Yet, no one in the party will stand up to them.

These right-wing fanatics, to whom compromise is a dirty word, compel emerging GOP candidates to adhere seamlessly to their narrow notions that appeal to a dwindling number of followers willing to still tolerate their unusual ideas.

In 2011 a sizeable congressional clique representing the Republican flat-earth fringe took our nation to the brink of economic Armageddon. That unwillingness to compromise for the good of the country might lead them to it again as we approach 2012 year-end budgetary challenges.

Romney thought he could spew the doctrinal verbiage of this crowd during Republican presidential primary debates and Etch a Sketch his policies and principles in swing states come November. That was a serious miscalculation.

Take 5:

Republican presidential candidates will return to Myrtle Beach, S.C., in four years to once again debate the issues prior to the Palmetto State's pivotal primary.

At that time even greater attention will be paid to what the Republican contenders have to say, because like Texas and its 38 electoral votes in 2020, Arizona (11) and South Carolina (9) in 2016 will be swing states.

Kevin Blaum's column on government, life and politics appears every Sunday. Contact him at kblaum@timesleader.com.

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