Anti-Mitt Romney sentiment has been so stubborn it prompted talk radio host Hugh Hewitt to wonder why "so many conservatives hate him" -- but Hewitt can take comfort in the fact that so many Washington lobbyists think Romney's pretty great. The majority of campaign donations by the heads of major trade groups have gone to Romney, according to a report by CEO Update, flagged by Politico's Mike Allen. According to the informal survey, just one of 75 trade association executives gave money to Herman Cain, the guy who's beating Romney in some polls despite saying women should be free to get illegal abortions and being mocked by the president Afghanistan. Further illustrating Romney's trade group support, on Wednesday, 12 top lobbyists hosted a fundraiser for him at the American Trucking Association's office, just a couple blocks from the Capitol, NBC News' Michael Isikoff reports. As lobbyist Brad Card told Roll Call's Janie Lorber earlier this week, "Political reality sets in for most people who genuinely want change ... Mitt Romney is the one steady in the race -- the one comfort blanket."
But political reality looks like it set in on K Street long before hitting Tea Partiers. FreedomWorks is still trying to get all the "anti-Romney candidates" to sign a pledge committing to Tea Party values, Lorber reports. Romney hasn't been able to grow his support above 25 percent in polls. Some conservatives even doubt Romney's chief argument for his candidacy -- the he's the most electable -- Politico reports. Yet the CEO Update study shows lobbyists are placing their bets on the less electable candidates. In addition to the single Cain backer, only one trade executive gave money to Newt Gingrich, and "[b]oth were the result of personal ties."
A lobbyist told Isikoff that the Romney fundraiser shows, "the Washington establishment coalescing behind him ... What this means is all the guys talking to their clients and their corporations and telling them, 'Mitt is the guy.'" Congressional Republicans like Romney too, as "several top GOP leaders" attended the event, including House oversight committee chair Darrell Issa, armed services committee chair Buck McKeon, intelligence committee chair Mike Rogers, and others. Lots of Republican lawmakers love Romney: he has the most congressional endorsements with 31, far more than second-place Rick Perry, who has 10, The Hill reports. Romney has more state lawmakers' endorsements too, The New York Times reports (he's pictured with former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu above). And Romney's working hard to lock down those last holdouts in the Capitol, Politico's Jonathan Martin reports; Romney's been trying to convince Aaron Schock, the Illinois congressman best known for his totally ripped abs, for months. "You don't go on a first date unless you’re hoping for a potential second date," Schock told Martin. "I'm making up my mind like every other primary voter ... When I make up my mind, I'm not going to be quiet about it." In the meantime, Republican voters won't be quiet about refusing to make up their minds.