Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Romney campaign imploding

In the wake of Mitt Romney's unplugged video, it appears that the entire Romney campaign is starting to implode.  First up is a couple of Politico stories, starting with Mitt Romney woes jangle Republican nerves:
If political campaigns have nine lives, nervous Republicans feel Mitt Romney has used up at least eight.
While insisting the party is still short of full-fledged panic, the video of Romney disparaging Americans who don’t pay income taxes and the GOP nominee’s consistently unsteady explanation of what he meant has prompted a chorus of fed-up Republicans to speak out about a campaign they see as badly in need of a jolt.
Opinion is mixed on just how damaging Romney discussing “the 47 percent” at a spring fundraiser will ultimately be for the campaign. But longtime GOP hands find the video and Romney’s attempt to neither fully embrace nor fully apologize for his comments to be symptomatic of a larger problem. The former Massachusetts governor can’t seem to string consecutive positive days together and often is his own worst enemy. A month’s worth of woes, beginning with a forgettable GOP convention, has taken its toll on the Republican psyche.
“The problem is the campaign is now in a spiral and no one knows how to pull out,” said Republican strategist Greg Strimple, who worked on John McCain’s 2008 campaign. “Romney needs a big idea, then he needs to shift the debate to spending.”
Another senior Republican who’s also deeply involved in this cycle’s campaign was more blunt about what many in the party are concluding about their standard-bearer this year.
“As a candidate, he is just not going to improve,” said the source.
This Republican, looking at fresh polling showing President Barack Obama still in the lead in key states such as Ohio and Nevada, described the mood among GOP officials as: “Not panic, but a recognition that the way to get [to 270 electoral votes] is limited.”
And that is what has Republicans more worried than Romney’s latest stubbed toe: They’re looking at grim swing-state numbers with the soundtrack of a ticking clock.
“We’re losing,” said veteran GOP strategist Jim Dyke. “And when that happens — it doesn’t matter if it’s a Republican or Democratic campaign or whether the campaign has been run masterfully or has been total crap — when the election gets closer, people start to get nervous.”
The second Politico story, titled, Mitt Romney, man of constant sorrow, seriously skewers the campaign:
Now, Romney heads into the final seven weeks of the campaign struggling to shed the aura of a candidate on the skids — an Inspector Clouseau-like figure who can’t perform the basic tasks of his job without getting into trouble. It’s an image wildly at odds with Romney’s background as a successful businessman and entrepreneur, the picture of managerial competence in the board room and the governor’s office.
“You don’t see them calling ‘silly season’ on this,” [Democratic strategist Tracy] Sefl continued. “The problem is, [Romney] is the cause of the silliness. He’s the one making the silliness, he’s the one approving Eastwood’s appearance [and] approving the half-baked statements and talking in private fundraisers in terms that are questionable.”
Of course, when I think of Inspector Clouseau, I often think of Peter Sellers in his iconic role:

Is this an apt metaphor of Mitt Romney's attempt to get into the White House?

Apparently, a "mood of gloom" is starting to afflict the campaign:
A palpably gloomy and openly frustrated mood has begun to creep into Mr. Romney’s campaign for president. Well practiced in the art of lurching from public relations crisis to public relations crisis, his team seemed to reach its limit as it digested a ubiquitous set of video clips that showed their boss candidly describing nearly half of the country’s population as government-dependent “victims,” and saying that he would “kick the ball down the road” on the biggest foreign policy challenge of the past few decades, the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
Grim-faced aides acknowledged that it was an unusually dark moment, made worse by the self-inflicted, seemingly avoidable nature of the wound. In low-volume, out-of-the-way conversations, a few of them are now wondering whether victory is still possible and whether they are entering McCain-Palin ticket territory.


Still, a flustered adviser, describing the mood, said that the campaign was turning into a vulgar, unprintable phrase.

Aides did little to hide their annoyance: on Monday night, a Romney aide cursed loudly as he tried to corral reporters into an impromptu news conference in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Mr. Romney himself seemed pensive on the early-morning flight Tuesday from California to Utah, sitting alone with a white legal pad and a pen as he picked at a vegetarian breakfast burrito. An aide said that he had eaten dinner alone in his hotel room the night before as the video controversy began to unfold.
Perhaps Romney realized then, sitting pensively on that early morning flight from California to Utah, that he was getting into trouble with all the flack he was getting over his negative attacks against the Obama administration during the crisis in Libya this last weekend. The staff was stressed out in applying an unsuccessful damage control to Romney, and right on the heels of the Libyan controversy comes the video controversy. No wonder the vulgar curses started flowing freely.

Now Talking Points Memo is reporting that the Romney campaign's Libyan response may have hurt Mittens:
Polls show significant swaths of America are interested in the Mideast attacks and generally unhappy with Romney’s reaction.

A Monmouth University survey released Monday indicated that 90 percent of respondents were familiar with the crises in Libya and Egypt, including 61 percent who had heard “a lot” about it. Among likely voters, Obama got positive marks for his handling of the situation from 39 percent of respondents and negative marks from 27 percent. But only 25 percent approved of Romney’s behavior during the same period versus 29 percent who disapproved.

“If the past week was Mitt Romney’s opportunity to show how he would handle a foreign crisis, the GOP nominee did not put his best foot forward as far as voters are concerned,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a press release.

Another poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & Press, also released Monday, found that 43 percent of respondents followed the Mideast news “very closely” last week, more than the 42 percent who said they followed the presidential campaign with the same intensity. Obama earned high marks among those who paid close attention to the attacks: 45 percent approved of his handling of the situation, versus 36 percent who disapproved. Twenty-six percent approved of Romney’s response, versus 48 percent who disapproved.
If Mitt Romney was getting voter disapproval for his screw-up on the Libyan crisis, what will the poll results reveal as voters digest Romney's unplugged video comments?

Finally, Steve Benen has a good roundup of the GOP's freaking out in the aftermath of Romney's unplugged video fiasco.

So what is the Romney campaign doing in the wake of this latest disaster? Ironically, the Romney campaign has decided to make fundraising its top priority in the last two months of the campaign:
Romney’s light public schedule in the heart of the campaign’s final sprint has led some GOP donors to grumble that he should be paying less attention to them at this point and spending more time winning over voters who will decide the election at the ballot box.

“There’s not really a campaign here,” said one Republican with extensive ties to the party’s fundraising community. “He’s getting ready for the debates, and he’s out fundraising. You’ve got enough money!”

Over the last seven days, Romney’s public events have included just two rallies: one with supporters at a campaign office in Florida, and a speech to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in California.

During the same time frame, he has attended seven private fundraisers and had two days with no events scheduled at all, choosing instead to prepare for the three upcoming debates with President Obama and conducting one TV interview.

In all, Romney has spent only nine of the 19 days since the conclusion of the Republican National Convention campaigning in battleground states.
The September 19, 2012 New York Times reported that the Romney campaign raised, "$106 million in June and $101 million in July," but that most of the money went into political entities, such as the Republican National Committee. The campaign is apparently on a tight budget, and has borrowed another $20 million to fund expenses. Mittens himself has not used any of his personal wealth to fund his 2012 bid. He is apparently happy to use other rich people's, and corporate, money to buy his way into the Oval Office, but will not spend a dime of his own money to fulfill his political ambitions. And now with the crap hitting the fan, instead of going out and seriously campaigning for vote, Mittens is taking more time to raise money. Maybe the campaign realizes that they've lost the race, and are either going to raise money to settle their accounts, or raise money and embark on a scorched-earth policy of attacking President Obama with everything they have in the final two weeks of the campaign--a Hail Mary pass of lies, mud, innuendo, character assassinations, smelly excrement, dirty underwear and whatever else they could find to drag President Obama into the slime-encrusted gutter the Romney campaign has inhabited in a wet-dream hope of angering enough Republican voters to select Mittens, over Democrats voting for Obama. I can't say if that strategy will be successful.

Or maybe the Romney campaign wants to be the spoiled child, destroying everything in their path because Mittens can't get into the White House which he thinks he's entitled to?

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