--Michael Graham, Boston Herald
(Asked about concerns that Romney may have tacked too far to the right) “Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of over again.”
-- Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney campaign press spokesman
Aren’t you just excited about the choice we have in November—major league mudslinger v. major league flip-flopper?
Here’s major league political guru Stu Rothenberg, speaking about Romney’s primary campaign performance:
Romney’s great problem in the GOP race, as pretty much everyone has already observed, is that conservatives don’t really believe that he is one of them. Despite all his conservative rhetoric — on taxes, government spending, traditional marriage, immigration, abortion and health care — conservatives aren’t buying it. They believe that Romney is simply pandering to them because he knows that is what he needs to do to lock up the Republican nomination.BIFF! ZAP! POW!
despite his conservative rhetoric, moderates and country club conservatives continue to support his candidacy. . . Clearly, establishment Republicans also don’t believe Romney when he talks about his views and his agenda. . . The bottom line, of course, is that nobody — not his critics and not his allies — really believes Mitt Romney.
The day after Santorum's March 13 Alabama and Mississippi victories, I noted Romney’s 53% of the total delegates was down from 55% the day before, and if Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich combined could continue cutting into Romney’s share of the total delegates, Mitt might be stopped.
Well, after yesterday’s contests in Wisconsin, Maryland, and D.C., Romney’s share of total delegates is up to 58%. With less than half the delegates selected, Mitt already has 58% of the delegates he needs.
The “ABM” (Anybody but Mitt) strategy I talked about has failed, and ex-Republican Mark McKinnon, writing in the “Daily Beast,” thinks he knows why:
Santorum's problem right now is not Mitt Romney; it's Newt Gingrich. Despite all the fanfare about Santorum needing the contest to become a two-man race, just the opposite is true. The only way for Santorum to make a real play would be for Gingrich to remain viable and attract enough delegates so that between them they can keep Romney from reaching a majority. Alas, the wind has gone out of the gasbag we call Gingrich.Newt is no help whatsoever to Santorum’s ABM effort. In the 7 contests since Alabama and Mississippi, Gingrich has won just 1 delegate total.
But I haven’t thought since two days after Alabama and Mississippi that Gingrich would be a real asset, or that ABM would help much. On March 15 I concluded, “It’s going to come down to Santorum’s ability or inability to excite the conservative Republican masses.” And in the end, Santorum did himself in, as the Hill’s A.B. Stoddard accurately reported:
Santorum often made the point that nominating Romney . . . would take the issue of healthcare off the table and benefit President Obama, [since] Romney had declared support for mandates to purchase healthcare . . . Santorum also repeated, early on, that [Romney had] supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program as well as cap-and-trade proposals, making [Santorum] the only true conservative in the race.Now he’s added Wisconsin to his string of Midwest industrial state defeats. Couda Wouda Shouda.
Santorum blew it. He veered off course, and out of this millennium, enthusiastically bemoaning birth-control pills, free prenatal testing and college education. He insulted Obama, calling him a snob, and President Kennedy. Santorum, a devout Catholic, said Kennedy’s insistence on a strong separation of church and state made him want to throw up.
On the night he lost the Michigan primary to Romney by 3 points, the exit polls told the story. He could have easily made up the votes to win from some of the women Romney won, the Catholics Romney won, the older voters Romney won, the voters earning more than $100,000 whom Romney won, and those voters with college degrees Romney won.
[Once again] he strayed, and lost Ohio by 1 percentage point. Then he strayed again, decrying the dangers of porn, claiming the Obama administration “seems to favor pornographers over children and families” because it has “refused to enforce obscenity laws.” So . . . he lost Illinois by more than 11 points.
Just before the Wisconsin vote, Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times was on the receiving end of a testy Santorum response that seemed to encapsulate a lost campaign. According to Zeleny, "I said, ‘Do you think that Mitt Romney is really the worst Republican in the country to run against Obama?’ - which is what he said. And he said, ‘I didn't say that. You guys are distorting what I'm saying.’” Then, Zeleny said, Santorum asked him to “quit distorting my words. It’s bulls-. You don’t care about the truth at all do you? You really don’t. Asking that question tells me you don’t care at all about the truth.”
OK, so it’s Mitt. Rah.