As first Newt Gingrich and now Rick Santorum prolong Mitt Romney’s march toward the nomination, Romney has increasingly entreated voters to examine his record as Massachusetts governor.
The problem for Romney: The press was listening, too, just as it did when Gary Hart issued a similar invitation, over a decidedly different matter.
What was Romney’s monkey business, in the eyes of the swath of the electorate already leery of him? Earmarks, for one, as evidence accumulates of his tapping the pork barrel as governor. And a stand against requiring Catholic employers to provide contraception coverage that appears to have been based not on moral or philosophical grounds but on economic reasoning. Even his widely lauded leadership of the 2002 Winter Olympics have fallen under reinvigorated scrutiny.
There’s plenty in Romney’s Beacon Hill portfolio over which conservatives could swoon: He imposed tough deportation policies, crusaded--fruitlessly--for capital punishment and confronted public-employee unions. But neither the press nor his opponents have much interest in highlighting those assets right now.
The longer Santorum dogs him, the longer Romney is forced to deal with elements of his record that are proving nettlesome in the primary but that would not cause much turbulence in the general election, when he will be forced to tack toward the center. And the longer he is tugged from the right, the more arduous that final movement becomes.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Romney, Under-funded Rivals in Hunt for Cash NEW!
[Associated Press, 2/13/12] Perhaps in part because they didn't expect the primary contest to continue so long, Gingrich and Santorum are hurting for cash right now and out fundraising heavily. And though he's got deep pockets, Romney, too, is looking to beef up his coffers for the prolonged fight ahead.
Polls: Romney Slipping Against Santorum, Obama
[National Journal, 2/13/12] In the newest Gallup tracking poll, Romney's just barely holding a lead against Santorum – 32 percent to 30 percent. But the latest Pew Research Center survey flips those numbers, giving Santorum 32 percent support to Romney's 30 percent.
Rick Santorum’s Plan To Derail Mitt Romney NEW!
[Politico, 2/13/12] Santorum's campaign has indicated that they think Santorum can win the whole hog if he's able to narrow the field to a two-man race, and to do that, they'll be focusing on Michigan and Ohio.
For Gingrich, "Super Tuesday" Looms As Turning Point NEW!
[Bloomberg, 2/13/12] Gingrich Spokesman R.C. Hammond has admitted that the campaign doesn't "have the money you need...to fend off Romney," so they're stepping fundraising into high-gear. But if all that effort doesn't come to fruition on March 6, it could be for naught.
Obama Ramps Up Campaign Truth Squad
[National Journal, 2/13/12] Today, Obama’s campaign unveiled not one, not two, but three websites devoted to truth-squadding. This is the second time in recent days that the Obama camp has let on that it feels outgunned, as National Journal’s Beth Reinhard writes.
Michigan's Gov. Snyder to Endorse Soon in GOP Race NEW!
[USA Today, 2/13/12] The Michigan primary comes on Feb. 28, and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said he plans to endorse a GOP candidate before then.
Mitt Romney Faces a Santorum-Like Problem on Google and Bing
[Time, 2/13/12] Pranksters turned Googling “Santorum” into a not-safe-for-work experience. Now Mitt Romney is starting to suffer the same fate--a group of hackers has managed to catapult the scatologically themed “SpreadingRomney.com” into the top three results on Google.
Editorial: Santorum’s Turn
[National Review, 2/13/12] With Santorum’s recent performances in GOP contests and with his national profile gaining more attention, the editors of the National Review say that Newt Gingrich should consider dropping out to allow for a Romney-Santorum contest. Meanwhile, the former House speaker released a new ad that gives a grandiose image to his campaign.
Gingrich Brushes Aside Call to Quit, But Retools Strategy NEW!
[National Journal, 2/13/12] In spite of conservative mag National Review's call for him to drop out of the race, Gingrich insisted today that he's in it for the long haul.
Paul Backers, Campaign Cry Foul Over Maine Caucus Tally
[Portland Press-Herald, 2/13/12] The Paul campaign says a local meeting in one Maine county that was canceled because of snow could have provided the votes needed to overcome Romney’s 194-vote win. But state GOP leaders are dismissing that claim, and analysts say that a change in the vote tally won’t really matter.
Pro-Romney Group Buys Almost $500,000 in TV Ads in Michigan NEW!
[The New York Times, 2/13/12] In Michigan, Restore Our Future PAC will run an ad called "Risk" that attacks Gingrich on his flip-flops on climate change and alleged support of earmarks.
Romney Highlights Social Security, Medicare In Budget Critique NEW!
[National Journal, 2/13/12] Though he's been attacked for his statement that he's not "concerned with the very poor" because they have a safety net, Romney attempted to turn that comment around on Obama as he accused the President of not taking care of Medicare and Social Security, some of "the most important parts of our social safety net."
Romney Runs as Outsider but Makes Room for Lobbyists
[New York Times, 2/12/12] For a candidate running against the entrenched interests of Washington, Romney keeps an awful lot of lobbyists around. The Times takes a look at some of the power brokers closest to the ex-governor.
Go Vest, Young Man
[Slate, 2/10/12] Santorum’s sweater vest now has its own Twitter account, Facebook page, YouTube video, and fundraising campaign. But what does it actually do for the politician? Slate’s Julia Felsenthal weighs in.
Romney's Evolution on Birth Control
[Wall Street Journal, 2/13/12] Romney has said that the Obama administration is intruding on religious freedom by moving to require religious-affiliated employers to cover contraception – but when confronted with a similar law as governor of Massachusetts, Romney took a different stance.
Ron Paul Still Waiting for Elusive First Victory NEW!
[Washington Post, 2/13/12] Ron Paul admitted his loss in Maine was disappointing, and it's raised questions for those watching the race: If he can't win there, can he win anywhere?
Santorum Defends Views on Women in the Workplace
[Los Angeles Times, 2/12/12] Already under fire for comments about women in the military, Santorum disputed contentions that remarks in his book, It Takes a Family – which accused “radical feminists” of undermining families – will alienate working women.