Romney and chief strategist need not ask for whom the bell tolls
Ann Romney is clearly feeling the strain. On Radio Iowa, she ordered whining Republicans: “Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring.” She said Americans should realise “how lucky” they were to have Mitt. She sounded entitled, even as her husband dismissed half the country as entitlement junkies.
An Obama adviser calls the Romney campaign “a study in mismanagement”, while the conservative columnist Peggy Noonan deems it “a rolling calamity”. Yet after Tampa, Romney gave promised bonuses totalling $192,440 to at least nine senior campaign staff members working under Stevens.
Even if voters are inclined to fire the incumbent, they need reassurance about what the replacement would do. Romney has failed to give details where needed, and when he does, they contradict his own past stands.
He finally released a tax return from 2011, showing he paid a higher tax rate than required. The press immediately unearthed a Romney quote from July: “If I had paid more than are legally due, I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president.” Case closed.
Aside from Mitt’s penchant for being a pinata, a container filled with party treats, the campaign is a moveable feast of missteps: spending money at the wrong time; putting on biographical ads too late; letting the Obama camp define Romney before he defined himself; staging a disastrous foreign trip; fumbling the convention; and neglecting to tell the candidate there is no longer any such thing as off the record, if there ever was.
Some Republican strategists, watching it slip away, privately complain that Stevens is a poseur and political atheist who is so busy being a dilettante that he forgets the need to have faith.
Was the Hollywood dabbler so swept up in the idea of Clint Eastwood’s benediction that he didn’t vet the 82-year-old actor’s script, or wonder about that empty chair? He doesn’t realise that having Romney stand for nothing and everything is not as good as having Romney say: “Follow me, we’re going to go over here.”
“If you don’t believe your guy can lead you to a better place,” said one Republican strategist, “it’s hard to get anybody else to believe it.” Romney said he liked to fire people. But his downfall may be that he does not.