The campaign is moving fast to calm nerves, especially among donors. To get a flavor of the challenge before them, a top donor said that after Romney spoke at a fundraising breakfast at the Hilton New York on Friday, a will-Mitt-win poll was taken at one table of 10 men, each of whom had paid at least $2,500 to attend, and some of whom had raised as much as $50,000 for the campaign. Not a single man said yes.
Politico also compiled an extensive list of all the Republicans who have criticized Romney in the past two weeks. Politico argues that this GOP criticism of Romney pretty much forces them to cover the in-fighting.
The constant flow of Romney criticism from conservatives. Many Republicans blame the media for the rash of bad stories. But it’s Republicans who have made the stories easy – actually, essential — to do. When the Wall Street Journal editorial page, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Rep. Tom Cole and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol are all publicly criticizing, the press has an obligation to write it. (And the list above is but a small sample of the on-the-record GOP Romney critics over the past two weeks. Click here for full listing).
This is a huge problem for Romney, his advisers say. In a flurry of phone calls, starting Sunday night, the Romney camp has tried to reassure its critics and donors but keeps hearing the same thing: “We will, if you get your act together.” The truth is conservatives never loved – and many don’t even like – Romney. But they bought into him as a vessel for their ambitions to defeat Obama, especially after Ryan was put on the ticket. Many on the right now are animated by a belief that Romney is turning Ryan into Romney, instead of Ryan turning Romney into a Ryan-style warrior for ideas.
If Romney does not move quickly to detail his war-of-ideas plan and adjust his rhetoric accordingly, conservative unhappiness could turn into a full revolt.
Actually, I’d argue the opposite. Romney is at his best when he’s Mitt Romney, an uber-liberal Republican who’s to the left of Ted Kennedy on gay rights.
And Romney is at his worst when he flip-flops all the over the place pretending to be a conservative, when it’s not entirely clear that he’s even a Republican.
As for the 47% video, I’m not even sure what to make of it. It sure seems like he believes what he’s saying. Unless, someone told him that these donors were conservatives so he should pretend he was conservative during the talk. And Romney did his best conservative impression, the way he sees conservatives, cold and heartless.
But another part of me thinks we saw the real Romney in that video. As Chris wrote yesterday, Romney’s a heartless CEO whose only expertise is in making money for big business, not actually helping people, or even caring about them.
The mission of being a partner at Bain, or any large company, is so radically different from managing a country, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Romney’s failing at evening running a presidential campaign. Bain’s mission was less about creating jobs, and more about enriching Bain. If jobs came (or went) along the way, so be it. But like any other similar company, the goal was always about maximizing payouts for Bain, period.
The mission at Bain was to make money and lots of it. So a cold-hearted focus on money, not people (something that Romney excels at) was an asset, if not a pre-requisite for the job. Romney didn’t need to listen to the little people in order to run Bain successfully, and he didn’t have to care about them. In the end, it was all about making money for Bain and himself. He called the shots and there was no need to incorporate other views into his plans.
Running for office is completely different. Romney is now showing how little he understands about working with, and listening to, and caring about everyone, even the little people.
What Romney is – a faux liberal or a faux conservative, he’s proven himself just not up to the job of being the leader of the free world.