Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Romney and Conservative Critics Should Focus on Obama, Not Each Other

The carping from conservatives is clearly starting to get on the nerves of the Mitt Romney campaign. The candidate’s No. 1 supporter vented a little of that frustration yesterday when in an interview on Radio Iowa Ann Romney chided critics of her husband’s efforts by saying:

“Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring,” she said. “This is hard and, you know, it’s an important thing that we’re doing right now and it’s an important election and it is time for all Americans to realize how significant this election is and how lucky we are to have someone with Mitt’s qualifications and experience and know-how to be able to have the opportunity to run this country.”

Mrs. Romney’s reaction is understandable. There is something terribly off-putting about the condescending attitude of writers like Peggy Noonan who wrongly attacked the candidate for quickly pushing back on the administration over the Libya debacle and then jumped on the 47 percent video with both feet. Beset as the Romney campaign is by a hostile mainstream media and a ruthless and nasty Democratic attack machine, the last thing she or anyone else associated with her husband’s candidacy needs is a shot from what is presumably their own side. What she wants is for all those opposed to President Obama to close ranks behind Romney and to push back on the narrative that he is failing. No doubt many conservatives feel the same way. But as much as some of the conservative kibitzers are off the mark, it must be admitted that their angst is merely the inevitable product of Romney’s gaffes and a campaign that has not exactly inspired confidence.

Let’s specify that some of those conservatives who are being singled out for not being loyal soldiers like Bill Kristol are the same people who were telling us a year ago that the GOP needed a better alternative to Barack Obama than Mitt Romney. Romney is the same person today that he was in 2011 when most conservatives were not in love with him. But just as it was the case a year ago that there was no better GOP option available in the primaries, the candidate is the only hope for those who are appalled at the idea of four more years for Barack Obama.

Whether the Romney campaign is a model of political genius or not, now is the moment for conservatives to be focused on pointing out the administration’s deceptive policies on Iran, the Libya debacle (as our John Podhoretz points out in his column today in the New York Post) as well as the fact that the president has no plan for fixing a broken economy other than class warfare rhetoric and more taxing and spending. Win or lose, there will be plenty of time for recriminations about the campaign’s shortcomings after November.

At the same time, this isn’t the moment for the Romney camp to be saying how “hard” it is to run for president. Of course it’s hard, but to those whom much is given, much is expected. All it will take to silence Romney’s conservative critics is a focused and successful homestretch run and strong debate performances.