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Not-Mitt candidate

Not-Mitt-Romney has had a difficult time of late.

This ephemeral creature has a single purpose for existence: halting the nomination of political chameleon Mitt Romney. Romney, of course, was against everything he is now for, and is now against everything he once supported. If there’s an issue of importance to the GOP primary electorate, he’s been on the wrong side of it.

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Immigration? Guns? Taxes? Healthcare? Energy policy? Gay rights? Abortion? You name it, Romney has been on the opposite side of things. Romney has even flip-flopped on whether he flip-flops!

Thus, Not-Mitt-Romney was born. The problem, however, is lack of a viable host. 

Things began promisingly enough, with Michele Bachmann catapulting to the lead and winning the Ames straw poll. But her brand of craziness came with baggage — claiming the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation, taking government farm subsidies while railing against them, encouraging supporters to slit their wrists in opposition to the new healthcare law. And, of course, there was her husband’s “reparative gay therapy” clinic … which also happened to receive government funds.

That wasn’t working, so Rick Perry received a hero’s welcome and a huge bump in the polls. But alas, he wasn’t up to the task, dragged down by his utter failure to string two sentences together. Did the country need another Texas governor in charge? Of course not, and especially not one who made George W. Bush look like a genius. It was a rocky tenure for Not-Mitt-Romney, and it ended the day Perry accused conservatives of lacking a heart on immigration.

At that point, Not-Mitt-Romney had some options. Rick Santorum? Has he even broken $1 million in fundraising? Newt Gingrich? Ha, ha, ha. Jon Huntsman? That guy served in the Obama administration. Ron Paul? Never going to happen. So Herman Cain it was.

Cain can actually communicate in coherent English, has that whole “businessman” thing going that Republicans love and as a bonus is African-American. The GOP could pretend to be diverse! And for a couple of weeks, Not-Mitt-Romney was happy, with its host rising in the polls and raising buttloads of money. Never mind that his 9-9-9 plan would raise taxes on all but the 1 percent mega-rich. He was flying high.

But then women started coming out of the woodwork. It wasn’t so much allegations of sexual harassment and assault, as conservatives don’t care much about such things. In fact, they initially rallied around him. The more accusations that surfaced, the stronger his support. But his reaction to the scandal was comically bad. And it was clear when Not-Mitt-Romney tore away from Cain: at the news conference to address the allegations, when he led with his lawyer. 

So Not-Mitt-Romney was back on the prowl. It might have laughed off Gingrich before, but it’s late in the game and desperate. In the latest CNN poll, Cain dropped from 25 percent to 14 percent, while Gingrich was up 14 points to 22 percent. Romney remains stuck at 24 percent. Former hosts Perry (12 percent) and Bachmann (6 percent) lag far behind. 

There are still eight weeks to Iowa, so there’s plenty of time for Santorum to get a shot, or for Bachmann to get a second crack at it. But there’s no greater indictment of the GOP field than the fact that while voters might be desperate for a Romney alternative, no permanent host can be found.

Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos.com).