Mitt Romney spent much of the last nine days luxuriating in the best his party has to offer, a running mate from its best-and-brightest wing offering him both a rear guard and a road-show tonic.
Today, the businessman distrustful of unpredictability gets to dance with some of the GOP’s less-savory elements. There is, less ominously, the Politico report on Republican House freshmen cavorting, birthday-suit style, in the Sea of Galilee during a CODEL two weeks after last summer’s debt-ceiling agreement.
And there is, more troublingly for a candidate already facing an uncomfortable gender gap, Missouri Senate nominee Rep. Todd Akin's roundly condemned assertion to a Missouri TV station that something he called “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy.
Romney, and a host of other GOP pols, rapidly slapped down Akin’s remarks, a no-brainer effort to reclaim a middle that could easily slip away should Romney become identified with the less mainstream – and factually disconnected – personalities within his party.
While Rep. Paul Ryan's budget, notably the under-the-microscope Medicare component, offers Democrats an opening to paint Romney as “extremist,” few of them argue that the proposal was not careful policy reasoning, or that Ryan is not a serious figure. Reports of rambunctious House members and the saturation-level Akin comments, though, threaten to link Romney with facets of the party that are, as Romney once labeled an opponent’s argument, “unbecoming.”
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Obama Campaign This Time Around: Brutal
[National Journal, 8/20/12] Compared with the gauzy memories most have of the sunshine and post-partisan pixie dust of 2008, President Obama’s reelection effort is the toughest, most aggressive in American history. And Romney advisers believe that Obama is playing a dangerous game.
Romney: Akin Should Take 24 Hours to Reassess Senate Bid
[National Journal, 8/20/12] Romney on Monday stopped short of calling for Akin to resign his Senate bid, but said the House member from Missouri should take 24 hours to think through things for his family and country. Earlier, he called Akin’s comments “inexcusable.” Akin said on Monday that he intends to stay in the race.
Obama Calls Akin’s Comments ‘Offensive’
[National Journal, 8/20/12] In a surprise appearance by the president in the briefing room, Obama defended his campaign’s tactics and called Akin’s comments “offensive.”
Romney’s Abortion View Overrides Ryan’s in Response to Akin
[National Journal, 8/20/12] In response to Akin’s remarks, a Romney-Ryan statement said that they would “not oppose abortion in instances of rape,” signaling that Ryan’s opposition to allowing abortions in cases of rape will take a back seat to his new boss’s view. Crossroads GPS has reportedly pulled funding from the race and National Republican Senatorial Committee chair John Cornyn has told Akin he has 24 hours to decide whether to stay in or get out.
National GOP Pulls Funding from Akin NEW!
[Washington Post, 8/20/12] Even as the National Republican Senatorial Committee decided to pull funding from Akin’s race, the embattled congressman vowed to keep himself in the running on Monday, saying, "The good people of Missouri nominated me, and I'm not a quitter."
Romney to Obama: Start Telling Truth on Tax Hikes
[National Journal, 8/20/12] Romney leveled harsh accusations at Obama on Monday in New Hampshire, appealing to the president to tell the people the truth on taxes – that truth allegedly being that Obama is raising taxes for middle-income Americans.
I Went to Church With Mitt Romney
[BuzzFeed, 8/20/12] As a member of Romney’s traveling press corps, BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins – a fellow Mormon – has followed the candidate across the country over the past months. But on Sunday, Coppins got the unique opportunity, along with several other reporters, to follow Romney to church.
As Mormon Leader, Romney Became Master of Many Keys
[Washington Post, 8/19/12] A close look at Romney’s leadership in the Mormon church shows how his actions sometimes clashed with his political positions, but also a man as orthodox and committed to his faith as any presidential nominee in history.
Political Conventions: No More Dead Doves, but Confabs Still Matter
[National Journal, 8/20/12] In 1988, 51 percent of voters decided who to vote for during the convention or right afterward. It is no surprise then, as National Journal's George Condon writes, that strategists work so hard to try to script and control every minute of the conventions. Meanwhile, on Monday the Democratic National Convention Committee named Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley as speakers, and the Republican National Committee announced that Ann Romney would kick things off.
Romney, Ryan Try to Calm Skittish Seniors About Medicare
[Associated Press, 9/20/12] In a New Hampshire town hall, Romney and Ryan will try to explain to voters – particularly seniors, who reliably cast ballots – that their proposal to offer a private alternative to Medicare would not affect anyone over age 55. Some 14 percent of the state’s residents are over the age of 65.
Romney, Ryan Turn Medicare Attacks Back on Obama
[ABC News, 8/20/12] With the Republican National Convention just a week away, Romney, Ryan, and their surrogates are using Medicare to hammer Obama, focusing on a $716 billion cut in funding for the program that was part of the Affordable Care Act.
Obama Campaign Roiled by Conflict
[Politico, 8/20/12] Obama’s campaign team, celebrated four years ago for its exceptional cohesion and strategic focus, has been shadowed this time around by a succession of political disagreements and personal rivalries that haunt the effort.
Hannity Urges Akin to Consider Withdrawing During Interview NEW!
[Real Clear Politics, 8/20/12] Conservative pundit Sean Hannity urged Akin to consider dropping out of the Missouri Senate race while interviewing him on Tuesday, telling Akin, “I would at least be thinking about what is in the best interest of the party.”