You know your campaign has hit a low point when you’re doing direct to camera ads reassuring the American people that you care about the middle class. Really! When Politico runs a story intended as satire about your running mate nicknaming you “The Stench”… and it is taken as fact. And when Newt Gingrich is giving you campaign advice. Newt Gingrich!!! The guy whose book tour was briefly taken seriously as a presidential campaign on the merits of his ability to parlay revelations that he had asked his ex-wife for an open marriage into a winning debate line.
Yes Romney is down nationally 6 points and losing Ohio by CLOSE TO double digits. Yes, the privileged prep school Wall St son of a former governor is pretty much the worst thing you could be in this year of populist anger and massive inequality. And yes, he is a really really terrible candidate. In the words of Joe Scarborough: Sweet Jesus… He’s a horrible politician.
The release of Romney’s comments disparaging half the country as victims who won’t take personal responsibility for themselves will likely go down as the pivotal moment in this election but really, this election was lost long ago.
See, the problem here is not REALLY Romney. Do you think for one second that if he had raised his hand and said, yes, I would raise taxes that he would be the nominee now? NO candidate, could have satisfied the Republican base enough to win the GOP Primary and gone on to run a campaign broad enough to appeal to mainstream Americans.
Next week the general election debates start. Remember the GOP primary debates? There was the time that the audience cheered Rick Perry’s lack of unease at the idea of executing an innocent man. The time that the crowd booed a gay soldier who asked about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. And the time that the audience demanded the uninsured be left to die. Yes, that really happened.
In a normal year, a candidate has to thread the needle of playing enough to the base that you win the primary but not going so far you can't win over those folks who have a slightly less ideological take. This year, in the Republican party that task was simply impossible. So now, Romney is supposed to make up all of his lost ground in the upcoming debates. Maybe just maybe, if Romney’s performance to date was the real problem, that would be possible. He could benefit from low expectations, turn in the performance of his life and turn this thing around. Mitt’s not really the problem though. There is no debate performance, no ad, no policy speech that can wash off the stench of GOP extremism.