8 Leading Republican Pundits Decry the Romney Campaign
With friends like these, who needs Democrats? Over the past weekend and late last week, the Republican echo chamber has been resounding with public declarations that Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is failing and possibly doomed unless drastic steps are taken to not just reshape the message but possibly the man himself.
Election Day is still more than six weeks away, which is many lightyears in the world of campaigns and elections. But for now, here’s a smattering of the recent angst-filled comments from some of the pushier mouths in GOP circles.
1. Joe Scarborough, MSNBC Host
The MSNBC host is getting lots of mileage out of his doomsaying. His show on Monday morning picked up the theme, after Politico pubished a lengthy story that called for the head of one campaign official. Writing for Politico in an article entitled, “The Problem With Mitt,” he summed up Romney’s dilemma: “Voters who like moderates can’t trust him. Conservatives who are desperate for victory don’t believe him. And the election Republicans should be winning seems to be slipping further from their grasp.”
2. Erick Erickson, Redstate.com Editor
The headline of his Monday article is the Right’s worst nightmare: “If The Election Were Held Today Barack Obama Would Win.” Here’s his not exactly hope-inspiting conclusion, after saying voters cannot be blamed if Romney’s message is muddled: “There is time for Mitt Romney to close the deal. But he can’t close the deal with a schizophrenic campaign message. If he’s afraid of being more unliked than he already is, he might as well let Paul Ryan be the lead. Because the status quo for Team Romney is not working. That is just a fact and we might as well accept it instead of screaming at everything else trying not to make eye contact with that fact.”
3. Jennifer Ruben, Washington Post ‘Right Turn’ blog
As we all know by now, the Washington Post’s columnists have to find something positive to say even when they level criticism. Here is how Jennifer Ruben delicately delivers the message that Romney’s campaign doesn’t quite have the fire in its belly: “The frustration in the conservative movement is not with Romney’s positions nor even with Romney himself, who has earned the admiration of the base both because of his exemplary personal character and because of his nerviness in selecting as his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). When a big event occurs (e.g., a credit downgrade, more than 20 embassies under siege) the campaign will churn out an e-mail. Maybe a speech but in a few weeks. This is not the optimal way to run a presidential campaign.”
4. Rupert Murdoch, Wall Street Journal and Fox News owner
Earlier this summer, Murdoch and ex-General CEO Jack Welch called on the Romney campaign to act more like the Bain boys and fire his senior staff. They politely described that sought-after action as “shaking up” the campaign. Last week, Murdoch returned to the fray via twitter, where his post made big news on Politico, which wrote, “Murdoch, the most powerful voice in conservative media with The Wall Street Journal and Fox News under his control, said on Twitter that “Romney must draw clear line: offer specific path to restore American dream…To win, Romney must open big tent to sympathetic families. Stop fearing far right, which has nowhere else to go.”
5. Peter Hansen, The Weekly Standard
There’s no shortage of pundits (and media barons) seeking to give Romney advice. Peter Hansen, a columnist with The Weekly Standard, last week wrote one of these long-winded tomes, where he too lays out where Romney has been swinging and missing: “I wonder, however, if there isn’t a missing element in your campaign. Yes, you ran a successful business, which created jobs, and you have other impressive accomplishments. It is a good record, but it doesn’t really demonstrate an ability to pull our nation’s economy out of its slump. To be sure, it demonstrates more such ability than President Obama has demonstrated. Nonetheless, it’s one thing to identify a problem, say you care about it, and even list some steps you would take to address it. It’s another thing to convince people that you can really do the job.”
6. Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online
The deeper the rightwing waters become, the more vociferous the judgement. Jonah Goldberg of the National Review Online compared the Romney campaign to that of another former Masachusetts’ governor, Michael Dukakis, who ran against Ronald Reagan in 1984 and tried to convince Americans that he was more competent than Reagan. Goldberg’s slash-and-burn piece is entitled, “The Campaign of Wrong Ideas vs. No Ideas.” You can guess which campaign and candidate gets which description.
Here’s Goldberg: “Though he doesn’t say it explicitly, the tone and tenor of Romney’s convention speech suggested that Obama failed because didn’t have the right resume, not because he has the wrong ideas. Stuart Stevens, Romney’s top strategist, has dismayed many on the right by operating according to the theory that Romney mustn’t do anything to offend the delicate sensibilities of some statistical abstraction of a female voter in the Ohio suburbs. Listening to the Romney speech, you’d have no idea he picked a principled, fearless, and brilliant conservative lightning rod as a running mate.”
7. Laura Ingraham, AM Talk Radio Host
You have to love (or hate) AM talk radio because it is all the things that The New York Times and Washington Post are not. Only on talk radio is there endless outrage that the sky is falling due to the villain du jour. What’s especially delightful about these final two examples of raging against the Romney machine is they suggest exactly that. Here’s an excerpt from Ingraham last week:
“If you can’t beat Barack Obama with this record, then shut down the party,” she said. “Shut it down, start new, with new people. Because this is a give-me election, or at least it should be. And the millions of dollars. I keep going back to the millions and millions and millions of dollars that are paid to these poltical consultants, election after election. We hire people who’ve lost previous campaigns.”
8. Rush Limbaugh, AM Talk Radio Host
Most Republican pundits and wannabee campaign managers are pulling out their hair over Romney, but the king of the GOP ranters, Rush Limbaugh, is predicting that if Romney stays on his curent course that the world will end—starting with the Republican Party. Here he is, last week, not saying anything about Romney but saying everything about the state of Romney’s campaign:
“If Obama wins, it’s the end of conservatism. If Obama wins, let me tell you what it is the end of—the Republican Party. And there’s going to be a third party that’s going to be orientated towards conservatism — or Rand Paul thinks libertarianism,” he said. “If Obama wins, the Republican Party will try to maneuver things so conservatives get blamed. The only problem is right now, Romney is not running a conservative campaign. But they will set it up so ‘the Right stayed home’ or ‘the Right made Romney be other than who he is.”
Progressives should remember these Republicans are doing their best to offer friendly advice to Romney. One can only imagine the turmoil that will follow if Romney doesn’t heed their advice. If you want to watch Limbaugh contemplate the end of the modern conservative movement, here’s the video: