Today, the media and pollsters are to blame for Mitt Romney's political troubles, according to Romney's fans. But if Romney loses, blame will quickly shift to the candidate himself, his shortcomings, and his ability to articulate a conservative vision for the country.
And the fallout from a Romney loss has the potential to reverberate through the Republican Party for a decade.
One can imagine the thought process: Romney, the moderate Massachusetts flip-flopper, was insufficiently clear in articulating the views of the conservative movement and allowed his own shortcomings to distract from the cause, both of beating President Obama and of advancing the agenda.
Anger within the activist class has already caused political casualties, from Utah’s Robert Bennett to Indiana's Richard Lugar. It has also forced incumbent Republicans to change their tune, in hopes of avoiding the same fate.
If Republicans do lurch to the right, history suggests they will be vindicated in the near term. The midterm election under a second-term president is typically disastrous for the incumbent party as the six-year itch takes effect. By 2016, Republicans searching for a presidential nominee may incorporate two lessons from the previous two election cycles into their decision: 2012 will hint that moderates unable to articulate the most conservative vision can't win nationally, and 2014 will show that conservatives can win. That would seem to buoy any of the more conservative candidates who might run for president.
The reinvention of the Republican Party that has been under way since the end of George W. Bush's term is far from complete. Romney's loss would make the violence of the internal struggle all the more dramatic; it would steal influence from those arguing for a middle path, and hand influence to the conservative factions already on the ascent.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Webb Drops the Hammer on Romney NEW!
[9/27/12] Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., upbraided Romney over his “47 percent” comments on Thursday in Virginia Beach, alluding to the fact that Romney did not serve in Vietnam and saying that veterans who receive government benefits do not participate in “a culture of dependency.” Webb’s own service in Vietnam lent his words extra weight.
Election-Year Economics: All How You Look at It
[National Journal, 9/27/12] Both Obama and Romney have cherry-picked statistics to suggest their own economic plan will result in growth, but whoever wins may have a problem: If wrong, the victor will have both destroyed his credibility and failed to solve the problem voters care most about.
Schedule Forces Obama to Cancel Debate Prep with Kerry [Boston Globe, 9/27/12] Obama’s busy schedule has forced him to cancel several practice sessions with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. Less than a week from the first debate, he has held only one session with Kerry, while Romney has sparred extensively with his Obama stand-in, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
In 1985, Romney Said Bain Would 'Harvest' Companies for Profit
[Mother Jones, 9/27/12] The left-leaning magazine has obtained a video from 1985 in which Romney explains that Bain’s goal is to identify potential and hidden value in companies, buy significant stakes in these businesses, and then “harvest them at a significant profit.”
Saying 'This Is a Crisis,' Romney Promises Better Care for Vets[Los Angeles Times, 9/27/12] In Virginia on Thursday, Romney told veterans that he would do more than Obama to ensure proper support for soldiers returning from foreign tours, and blamed the president for not doing more to prevent defense cuts scheduled to take effect next year.
Romney’s '47 Percent' Monologue Is Soundtrack of New Obama Ad
[National Journal, 9/27/12] The Obama camp is out with a new TV ad that goes after Romney’s “47 percent” comments, which are played over images of families, manufacturing workers, veterans, and minorities. The ad is running in New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, and Colorado -- the same states that were tapped for a second, more positive ad Obama also released on Thursday.
Out of the Bushes
[National Review, 9/27/12] The editors at the conservative magazine are urging Romney to talk about “what Bush-era Republicans got wrong,” and acknowledge that “our country has problems that have been building since long before Obama took office.”
Soros Gives $1 Million to Democratic 'Super PAC'
[New York Times, 9/27/12] The billionaire hedge fund manager will also give $500,000 to super PACs supporting Democrats running for House and Senate seats. He wrote in an email that he was sufficiently “appalled” by Romney’s fundraising efforts to overcome his aversion to the new breed of political action committee.
Romney's New Message: I Care
[National Journal, 9/27/12] Romney launched a new charm offensive on Wednesday meant to appeal directly to those who were turned off by his "47 percent" comments. The message takes a page out of the 1992 George H.W. Bush playbook: I care.
Samuel L. Jackson's Expletive-Filled Obama Ad
[Business Insider, 9/27/12] The web ad, released by the Jewish Council on Research and Education, features the actor warning against a Romney presidency. “I strongly suggest you wake the f--- up,” he intones.
Romney: I Believe in 'Peace Through Strength'
[TPM, 9/27/12] At an event for veterans in Springfield, Va., on Thursday, Romney said that he believes in “peace through strength,” alluding to the Ronald Reagan maxim. Romney has been highly critical of cuts to the defense budget.
Super PACs Finally a Draw for Democrats
[New York Times, 9/26/12] Democratic super PACs are finally drawing the kind of wealthy donors who have already made GOP outside groups a pivotal force in the campaign. But the money is not coming from the expected places, like gay donors and wealthy liberals -- it’s coming from the party’s traditional, pre-Obama sources like trial lawyers, unions, and Hollywood.
Netanyahu Presses for Iran 'Red Line' in U.N. Speech
[Reuters, 9/27/12] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued for the international community to set a “red line” for Iran’s nuclear program in his U.N. speech on Thursday. As Netanyahu, a longtime friend and former colleague of Romney, pressures the president in an election-year campaign, the speech is aimed as much at Obama as the U.N.
Electoral Drama Shifts to Ohio
[Wall Street Journal, 9/27/12] Romney went back to basics, vowing to cut the deficit and revive manufacturing jobs, while pushing his tax plan; and Obama tailored his message to issues that resonate locally -- trade with China and the auto bailout -- as both candidates rolled into the crucial swing state.
Absentee Voting Under Way in Virginia
[Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/27/12] As the candidates visit Virginia today, absentee voting is now under way in the state for those who meet certain criteria. So far, data shows in-person absentee voting may outpace the early days of absentee voting in the 2008 election.
Republicans Intensify Drive to Win Over Jewish Voters
[New York Times, 9/26/12] The Republican Jewish Coalition, backed mostly by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, has begun spending $6.5 million on an effort to reach Jewish voters who may view Obama as unreliable on Israel, particularly focused on South Florida, Ohio, and Nevada.
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