Romney bemoaned the fact that he never served in the military. The man did get a deferment. It is not like he couldn’t have served; he chose not to. Why bring it up? It’s somewhat Clinton-esque to bring up a potentially embarrassing personal fact and ask for pity.
Posts For: January 30, 2008
Tonight was Mitt Romney’s last stand. He blew it. The conservative antipathy towards McCain involves real issues: his indefensible support of campaign finance reform, his opposition to Bush tax cuts, his throwaway lines attacking corporations, and so on. Romney should have been on attack mode from the first moment, stirring up every conservative trepidation about McCain, stressing his unreliability as a consistent voice for the cause. “We don’t need a maverick, Senator, we need a steadfast, principled and predictable conservative leader,” was the line I was waiting for. Instead, Romney dove head-first into McCain’s alleged smear about who supported the surge — a minor kerfuffle given all the other heat McCain has taken these last few months.
Why, for example, didn’t Romney simply quote George Will,Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or any other of the pantheon of conservative pundits who don’t trust McCain?
Romney’s most credible claim is that he understands the real economy and can speak about it eloquently. California is Proposition 13 territory, after all. His entire campaign was premised on his free-market bona fides. Tonight, when he needed them most, he barely displayed them. In New Hampshire, McCain made Iraq the touchstone of campaign. He did it again tonight and Romney let him get away with it. This contest seems very over.
Arnold Schwarzenegger will endorse John McCain tomorrow. Today it was Rudy. More will follow in the days ahead. The consolidation of the party continues.
Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan. If the name “Ronald Reagan” is spoken one more time during this campaign, I am going to scream. (Yes, I was a speechwriter for Ronald Rea…)
If McCain wants to really undermine Romney, he should announce tomorrow that the former Governor of Massachusetts is on a “very short list to be my Treasury Secretary.” In a single stroke he would show his capacity to extend an olive branch to Romney’s conservative cheerleaders and remind people that Romney is not yet ready for the top job. It wouldn’t be an entirely cynical move. For years, presidents have turned to grey-haired (or bald) Wall Street sages to “reassure the markets.” But in today’s economy, more dependent on global trade and private pools of wealth, Romney at Treasury makes a lot more sense. It would also be the first step to start to unite the party, despite what anti-McCain fanatics think.
Yes, I do think the fundamental problem with this for Romney is that he was cagey for a very long time on the surge (remember his “apparently” the surge is working line from the September New Hampshire debate?) and McCain was heroic on the subject. McCain is now touting all his national security endorsements. Every second spent on this is lost time for Romney.
I know it is supposedly a great calling card that Romney ran the Salt Lake City Olympics, but saying it directly after John McCain talked about his time in the Hanoi Hilton might not be the best timing in the world.
John and Jennifer, this debate about what exactly Mitt Romney said about the surge and when he said it is obscuring the larger and obvious point: Romney has never been — and never claimed to be — an outspoken leader on national security issues. Everyone knows that on this issue, McCain has him, and everyone else, beat. And at the same time, no one really thinks that Romney is an unreliable squish when it comes to Iraq. He has stated his current position, which is pretty much indistinguishable from McCain’s.
Instead of taking McCain’s bait and playing on his turf, Romney should be arguing that the real test for the 2008 election is both judgment on foreign policy and deep experience in real economic decision making. If he would reframe the debate in that way, Romney might be winning the applause instead of Ron Paul and his isolationist rants.
Jennifer, you have to admit, things picked up. Romney denied he ever supported a secret withdrawal from Iraq. McCain, not very clearly, explained that by using the word “timetables” in early 2007, Romney was adopting the “buzzword” terminology of the Iraq Study Group and the Democrats, who sought a withdrawal from Iraq. Romney said no he didn’t, and why hasn’t McCain brought this up in other debates, and Jeff Toobin said McCain lied about this, and so on. And so on. Romney would not stop talking about it, and in talking and talking and talking, he didn’t sound righteously angry but defensive and even a little bit guilty.
They went back and forth and back again. McCain had the advantage for two reasons. First, he did not lose his cool. That was the only way to upset his glide path to Super Tuesday. (Romney I think got lost in the weeds by mixing up complaints about negative ads – whining never wins debates – and trying to clarify his own position.) The more significant reason: McCain put his career on the line for the surge and America’s success in Iraq. People know that. All the rest is small beans.
I can not think of a single memorable line so far. Huckabee has probably impressed his small segment of the electorate and Romney has made his followers feel better. McCain’s supporters are delighted. Why? Because there is no memorable line.
Romney is trying to rally the conservative base, but is touting healthcare mandates and sounds like he’s a marriage counselor, speaking calmly and smiling throughout. This is going to rally the troops?
That’s the sound of America changing the channel from this excruciating debate. I said a few posts ago that Romney was doing very well. He is. But he is also a crashing bore.
Bill Kristol pointed out time is running short for Romney. He is doing nothing in this debate to alter the course of the race, but he is articulate. Huckabee does sound a whole lot less nuttier than usual.
…originally said there would be no rules during the debate. Then, when Ron Paul wanted to address a different topic, Anderson Cooper cut him off and handed the mic to Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times so she could ask a schoolmarmish question. Bad conduct.
…is doing a great job. Very commanding. He’s far more substantive than McCain. That doesn’t mean he’s winning. What wins these debates is one good line.
In an effort to sound caring, Mitt Romney and John McCain couldn’t bring themselves to say yes. Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul said no. This is ridiculous. Our economy is $3.2 trillion larger than it was in 2000 (in constant dollars, up 20 percent). Per capita income has risen from $34,000 to $44,000 (in constant dollars, up by 10 percent). Inflation has been historically low — at least until the last two quarters. Of course America is better off.
Romeny makes his “McCain is a closet liberal” point, listing some of McCain’s heretical acts. McCain gives a mild jab back, reminding everyone that Romney’s home state papers endorsed McCain and then goes on to praise bipartisanship and calmly list the failings in Romney’s record. Romney responds. Anyone score any points? I don’t think so.
A few minutes before the start of the debate, I have begun to wonder whether this really will be a week of warfare between Mitt Romney and John McCain. I have received zero attack e-mails from the Romney camp today hammering McCain. That’s a big change in and of itself. There is more. This and my conversation with Romney spokesman Kevin Madden suggest there is no ad buy activity. Perhaps the expert businessman recognizes when an investment is not showing returns.
In very moving terms, Rudy Giuliani endorsed John McCain at the Reagan Library, making clear that even while he was still a candidate he had considered McCain the best choice for president if Rudy were not running himself. He spoke in glowing terms of McCain’s preparedness to lead and snuck in a dig at Mitt Romney by noting that had he not endorsed McCain, he would have been accused of flip-flopping. Rudy said they both agreed on the necessity of remaining on the offense on the war on terror, adhering to fiscal conservatism, and expanding the appeal of the GOP. Rudy declared: “He is an American hero, and America could use heroes in the White House.” McCain returned the favor, thanking Rudy in eloquent terms for his leadership on 9/11. Rudy will campaign with McCain in key states like New Jersey, New York, and California. It was a powerful image to see these friends, both stalwart and dedicated above all else to the security of the country. Unless someone throws a punch at the debate tonight, this will be the most memorable event of the day.