What’s next for Mitt Romney with 87 days to go until Election Day? He’s put himself squarely between a rock and a hard place and it’s almost as though he made a bee-line for it, leaving many of us to scratch our heads in wonder. Does he want to lose?
The Washington Post’s morning [print] headline is “Hoping for reset, Romney hits road.” It might as well have said Etch-A-Sketch shake but let’s not quibble. The point is, it is recognized that the Republican candidate is sinking and that something needs to be done to regain the momentum. Right now, the initiative is firmly in the hands of the Obama campaign.
According to the Post, “With polls showing Mitt Romney losing ground to President Obama and some conservatives publicly fretting that he has lost the summer, the presumptive Republican nominee is heading into a critical stretch under pressure to alter the course of his campaign.”
All true enough. But what can he do? He comes from a small-tent Party and has seemed intent on making his own tent smaller than usual even for a Republican. Who is left to appeal to?
The Post pointed out that as of last night, there were three opportunities remaining for Romney:
- The selection of a running mate
- The Republican Convention in Tampa
And, of course, “hitting the road” on what is, at this point, a wing and a prayer.
We have already seen where the selection of a running mate has got him: he’s chosen Tea Party hero, Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan - a patriarchal pairing if there ever was one as Sarah Jones observed this morning. Ryan’s 59 votes against abortion and reproductive rights tell you where this campaign is headed (read about him at Emily’s List if you have any remaining doubts).
Indicators from outside the wishful thinking set would say this is not the game changer Romney is hoping for. Unlike Biden, Ryan does not make his future boss’ tent any bigger. Indeed, it seals his fate where women are concerned. The battle lines are now clearly drawn; as the Obama campaign is calling them, they are the Go-Back Team.
The Republican Convention will be interesting but at the moment its shaping up to be nothing more than a celebration of right wing extremism, a band-wagon Romney has had questionable success so far in catching, let alone jumping onto. He is by no means assured of a game changing moment there though it’s a lock at this point that he will come away the nominee. The best he can hope for now that he has chosen Ryan is to attract a few more extremists to his tent; Independents and moderates will be headed the other direction.
First up: he will have to convince Americans that the GOP dream of rich white Christian males and a downtrodden middle class and disenfranchised brown and black people is an attractive option for the future. Liberal and progressives of all genders, religions and ethnicity would say good luck with that.
And then there is that road trip. “By showing the candidate connecting with blue-collar America,” Philip Rucker writes in the Post, “the tour is designed to help Romney shed the caricature that the Obama campaign has tried to draw of him as an elitist who looks out only for the wealthiest.”
In that case they have failed already, to judge by Romney’s visit to Iowa, where he ignored family farms in favor of visiting with a guy who owns fifty-four farms. As a local pastor complained in a letter to the editor, “[LeMar] Koethe owns 54 farms! That would be Romney’s kind of farmer.” Amen, brother.
It gets better….well…maybe not for Romney: “He [Romney] will stage a rally Sunday at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C., near Charlotte,” the Post tells us.
You have to wonder if he will insult their raincoats like he did at the Dayton 500 back in February: “I like those fancy raincoats you bought. Really sprung for the big bucks.” Or if he will stress to them how far above them he is: “I have some friends who are NASCAR team owners.”
Well isn’t that special for you, Mitt? Yeah, we all know how well his last contact with things NASCAR went even if Romney is too clueless to figure it out for himself.
Now granted, NASCAR fans will boo Michelle Obama but that doesn’t mean they will vote for Romney.
As Salon says, Romney is gaffe-tastic. That is, if you accept that these are gaffes at all. Not all do (though check this out). But really, what can you do with a candidate who can only think to say “I love this state. The trees are the right height,” when he visits Michigan?
I mean the trees? Really?
The Post points to some of the recent polls which spell doom and gloom for Romney and the Republican Culture War, with “Obama widening his lead over Romney to as much as nine points” (Fox News) and Romney’s unfavorable ratings “rising.” And then there are the two polls which “show his support among independents slipping.”
Sure, a senior Romney advisor can play down the polls as he did Friday morning but we’d expect him to do this. What, he’s going to admit they’re screwed, that their candidate can’t connect? That’s not how the game is played. It’s just midsummer. “There [has] been no ‘precipitating event’ to move the numbers so much.”
Maybe not, but there have been plenty of precipitating events to move the numbers down, like oh…say a trip to Europe and Israel, where Romney showed he can insult foreigners as handily as his fellow citizens. The adviser can point to “the latest Gallup tracking polls, which have the two candidates in a dead heat” (Obama 47 percent to Romney’s 46 percent) and to the ever-GOP-friendly Rasmussen which somehow finds a way to put Romney ahead of Obama,
On Friday, Jon Huntsman, Sr., “joined a chorus of Republicans calling on Romney to disclose more tax filings.” Not Democrats mind you: Republicans.
And Laura Ingraham, never one for accuracy in reporting came out and said on her radio show, “I might be a skunk at the picnic, but I’m going to say it. I’m going to say it clear: Romney’s losing.”
Romney doesn’t get any of this; he doesn’t understand that he, not Obama, is his problem. “My biggest challenge,” he told Fox News this week, “is making sure that my message is able to break through all the clutter that comes from the Obama team.”
But that’s demonstrably untrue. Romney’s biggest problem is Romney. He cannot connect with blue-collar workers, the middle class, with blacks, Hispanics, women, or much of anybody else, including extremist religious voices in his own party upon whom so much depends.
And let’s face it: the GOP can put up a “pavilion for women” at the National Convention as part of its “Woman Up!” Initiative but it would be better named “Up Yours, Women!” That pavilion is going to look like a gopher mound next to Everest and women are likely to look at it and shake their heads saying, “You want us to crawl into that tiny little thing, barefoot, pregnant, and without healthcare?”
No, Romney isn’t getting any favors from his Party and Romney isn’t doing his Party any favors. In the end, the challenge of getting a probe landed safely on Mars pales in comparison to the challenge of getting a rich, white, Mormon elitist and his thuggish VP elected to the highest office in the land.
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