When compared against his Republican rivals, Mitt Romney enjoys far more support from his party’s establishment, giving him a small army of GOP surrogates he can dispatch to get his message out to the public.
Of course, this only works when the campaign’s surrogates (a) aren’t embarrassing, and (b) actually agree with Romney’s message.
Take Rep. Joe Heck (R) in Nevada, for example. The Republican congressman is a top Romney backer in the Silver State and a campaign surrogate, but he doesn’t mind talking publicly about how wrong Romney is on housing policy.
“Mitt Romney and I don’t agree on every issue and certainly housing is one of them. When you look at what is going on here in Southern Nevada, you can’t say you got to let the housing market hit bottom. We have been bouncing along the bottom for years. And the fact is we have to do everything possible to: 1) keep people in their homes and 2) get people who are out of their homes back into their homes.”
Hmm. So, according to a top Romney campaign surrogate in Nevada, Romney’s policies would be bad for struggling homeowners in Nevada.
What’s more, as my colleague Mike Yarvitz noted yesterday, incidents like these keep coming up. Randy Pullen, a former Arizona Republican Party chairman and a top campaign backer in the state, offered this assessment of the race yesterday: “Santorum connects with people. Unfortunately, my guy has a hard time doing that.”
That’s not what leading campaign supporters are supposed to say on the record.
Rep. Fred Upton (R), a top Romney backer in Michigan, said this week that Romney was wrong about the auto-industry rescue. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), one of the campaign’s most prominent surrogates, contradicted Romney on the release of tax returns. Sen. John McCain (R), a very high-profile supporter, told a national television audience Romney’s position on Taliban negotiations isn’t his position.
Then there’s Romney’s other group of surrogates: the ones he doesn’t want to talk to anymore. Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu was a top campaign surrogate until his recent scandal, and Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) was a leading surrogate before he was caught up in his own ethics controversies.
And in case all of this weren’t quite enough, Romney backer Jon Huntsman was on msnbc this morning, arguing in support of “some sort of third-party movement or some alternative voice out there that can put forward new ideas.”
With friends like these….