Mitt Romney’s awful week


After successful starts to the primary season in Iowa (even though Rick Santorum was ultimately declared the winner by 34 votes) and New Hampshire, Mitt Romney expected to make it 3-for-3 in South Carolina. That would have just about wrapped it up for the former Massachussetts governor. But after two debates where Romney has seemed listless and hesitant, he could be in for a surprise this Saturday. Romney is having a week from hell.

It started with a boast about creating 100,000 jobs through his work at Bain Capital, which he eventually had to take back. What is surprising here is that Romney allowed himself to be undermined on a claim that was difficult to verify. Then his tax returns became a front-and-centre issue. Romney should have expected that line of attack,  but he seemed unable to give a satisfactory answer. Add to it a less-than-stellar performance in the two debates,  and Romney is beginning to look like a candidate with a glass jaw.

Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, who is celebrating more comebacks than Sylvestor Stallone’s Rocky, is once again riding a surge borne of his superior debating skills. Gingrich will not win the GOP race, but he is raising doubts about Romney and showing the latter’s vulnerability come November. In Thursday’s debate, Newt showed off his rhetorical skills by successfully brushing off his ex-wife’s claim he had proposed an “open mariage” instead of a divorce. That could have been powerful stuff in socially conservative South Carolina.

Of course, Rick Perry has since withdrawn from the race and endorsed Gingrich. And Rick Santorum has garnered a lot of support in social conservative circles. The effect of all this is that the latest polls show Romney losing momentum and Gingrich gaining it. Romney is now on the defensive and losing ground.

Ultimately, Romney will be difficult to stop. But there is a narrative taking hold in South Carolina, in which Romney is an overly scripted and awkward politician. These are going to be liabilities for him in the showdown with Barack Obama, which explains why the passion and enthusiasm within the Republican rank and file for Romney is lacking. The Obama people have to be happy about events this week in South Carolina.


Mitt Romney’s awful week

  1. Obama will eat him up .

  2. Looks like Gingrich will in Sc .

  3. Newt Gingrich would eat Obama alive in a debate. In a presidential debate between the two, without teleprompters, Obama would be left speachless.

    • I think you’re both overestimating Gingrich and underestimating Obama. I certainly believe that Gingrich could beat Obama in a debate, but the reverse is true as well.  Then again, I also don’t think we’ll ever see that scenario.

      Besides, while Gingrich’s skill as a debater may well serve him well in a hypothetical general election, I don’t think he’s nearly skilled enough to overcome his biggest disadvantage.  The guy’s kinda a dick.

      • “I don’t think he’s nearly skilled enough to overcome his biggest disadvantage.  The guy’s kinda a dick.”

        True, in terms of character and integrity he’s not impressive.  But let’s not forget that the alternative is Barack Obama.

        • Say what you will about Barack Obama, he doesn’t come off as a total a$$hole. Gingrich often does.

          • Ah, I see the source of our disagreement:  you are talking about the fact that Gingrich comes across as a slimeball while Obama comes across as a decent guy, whereas I am talking about the fact that while Gingrich actually is a pretty unimpressive character, Obama actually is a slimeball.

          • Oh?  How?

            Is Obama a serial adulterer?

            Is Obama hiding $32M in the Cayman Islands?

            Is Obama banning birth control?

          • Gingrich isn’t a slimeball?

            NEWT GINGRICH!?!?!?!

            Come on now.

          • This is me coming on, now.

            Slimeballitude (?) in politics is relative: one tries to elect the candidate with the least worst integrity.

            So compared to you, Gingrich is a slimeball. However he is not running against you, he is running against Obama. Advantage Gingrich.

          • Newt Gingrich impeached a President for cheating on his wife while cheating on his wife.

            Newt Gingrich left his wife for his younger, hotter mistress right after she was diagnosed with an extremely serious health condition.  THEN HE DID IT AGAIN.

            Newt Gingrich was the first Speaker in the history of the Republic to be disciplined for ethical wrongdoing.  (The final fine was $300,000 on a 395–28 vote).

            Sorry, we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.  In terms of being a slimeball, imho, it’s not just that Obama isn’t in the same league as Gingrich, they’re not even on the same PLANET.  Sooner or later the Republicans are going to remember why they forced him out of the Speakership themselves.

            Plus, if Gingrich becomes the nominee, one day he’s going to get angry, and you won’t like Gingrich when he’s angry.

          • Uh huh. And Obama won his first elected office by getting all his opponents disqualified on technicalities. Then he castigated a sitting President for having “shredded” the Constitution with Gitmo and warrantless wiretapping, before actively maintaining both himself as President. While campaigning for the Democrat nomination he repeatedly used sexually demeaning terms to weaken his female opponent. While campaigning for President he repeatedly played the race card, helping to divide his country along racial lines for political gain. He also repeatedly broke election law by deliberately maintaining a donation scheme which did not require any kind of name verification, thus allowing rich donors to far exceed the individual limit. Currently he uses class rhetoric to divide his own country along class lines in order to distract the electorate from his economic policy failures. He castigates politicians for accepting corporate funding, while accepting more corporate funding than all other candidates combined. He is expected to spend a billion dollars on his reelection campaign, all while decrying the rich/poor divide. And all after having loftily proclaimed that he would eschew all private funding when he first ran for the Democrat nomination.

            This is all without taking into account his actual policies, which include weakening his country’s energy independence to satisfy environmentalists, betraying allies in Europe and the Middle East, and perpetuating the wholesale slaughter of 1 million unborn children per year in abortion clinics across the country.

            Versus a serial adulterer. Yeah, you’re right they’re not on the same planet. Sometimes I wonder if you and I are.

          • You want to see class rhetoric and race baiting? Trust me, nominee Gingrich will accommodate you. You want to see someone decrying attacks on himself by SuperPACs while carefully confirming all the attacks being made by SuperPACs in his favour? Newt Gingrich is your man.

            We’re just going to agree to disagree on this I guess, ’cause while I hold Rick Santorum to be beneath contempt, I think I have more respect for HIM than I do for Newt Gingrich.

    • I called it . BTW , speechless is the correct spelling .

  4. Vote Herman Cain!

  5. During Obama’s precipitous decline in public support (from around the mid 70’s to now at the mid to low 40’s), has there been a single post on this blog that has come close to anything in the nature of “Obama’s awful week”?  Undoubtedly there have been many “awful” weeks for Obama.  Arguably THIS week was objectively awful for him, his public support is again reaching a new low and many in agreement that his Keystone decision was so obviously politically motivated that even the Dem caucus were outspoken against him.

    The “elite” media’s overt support for Liberal parties, and their obvious contempt (even hatred) of all things Conservative, manifesting in agenda driven advocacy masquarading as “news”, will no doubt be studied by future generations as one of the causes of modern media’s demise.  

    However, amidst the long descent into the abyss, commencing with the Vietnam era in which the media appeared to consciously decide to change objectives from reporting facts to “making a difference” (the “correct” progressive difference it turns out), the sad display of outright cheerleading and overt displays of public affection for Obama will surely stand out as the pinnacle of this decline.

    From cheerleading, to circling the wagons, to now struggling to point the magnifying glass anywhere but on Obama’s failed policies, this last few years have been quite a sad spectacle.

    Ahh.  Perhaps I’m making too much of it.

    Onto matters truly relevant: 16 year old divorce stories from a Republican leader’s bitter ex wife.

  6. I’m not sure why it’s a certainty that Gingrich won’t win the primaries.

    Romney’s lacklustre debate performance is a little odd.  He’s usually a lot sharper, with well-prepared answers to every predictable question.  I wonder if something is going on behind the scenes that is distracting him from the campaign, or if it’s just wearing on him.

    • He appears to prefer to stay on the high road.  He put a stop to the former wife question for Newt the other night, and Newt in return stabed him in the back.  I expect Romney is going to take off the gloves.

      • Romney isn’t going to [directly] touch Gingrich’s marriage with a 10-foot pole. Everybody remembers what happened when Clinton was challenged over the Lewinsky scandal – his approval ratings actually went up, and the GOP faced backlash.

        What is more, GOP primary voters don’t seem to care about the issue. In exit polls only 18% of SC voters identified “strong moral character” as the candidate quality they were most concerned with. Gingrich won only 6% of those voters, but cleaned up on “can defeat Obama” and “right experience”. What is more, Gingrich actually won among the born-again voters one would expect to care about the scandal. 

        • But he has so much more to hit him with and he can count on Santorum to help out.  Evangelicals voting for a three time marriaged philanderer only confirms what I think of them. 

    • The problem with Gingrich is that he can’t withstand the scrutiny that comes with being a frontrunner. Lets review the reasons one would prefer Gingrich over Romney.

      1. Gingrich is a true conservative, while Romney is a “Massachusetts moderate”
      Er, not so much. Gingrich supported healthcare mandates for years, clearly doesn’t subscribe to family values in his personal life, has a long history (going back to the 70’s) of taking environmentalist positions, challenged the Ryan plan and so on. If people are looking for a true conservative, Rick Santorum is a vastly superior choice.

      2. Gingrich is the best candidate to defeat Barack Obama (mentioned by 45% of SC voters).
      This one is just patently false. On average, Obama beats Gingrich by 11 points in matchup polls ( http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/us/general_election_gingrich_vs_obama-1453.html ). Nor can this be ascribed to antipathy to the GOP in particular – a “generic Republican” beats Obama, whereas Gingrich is dragged down by his terrible favourability ratings (the latest poll had Gingrich’s favourability at 17%). 

      And the “Gingrich will cream Obama in the debates” argument is terribly weak from a historical perspective. Debates matter a lot more in primaries, where the amount spent by each campaign on ads is smaller, where many candidates have less than 100% voter recognition, and where changing candidates does not require crossing party lines. 

      Bush’s disastrous September 30th debate with John Kerry in the 2004 campaign is a case in point. Kerry got a large bounce out of the debate, as the race moved from a solid lead to Bush to a dead heat… until a week later when Bush regained his lead. Bush took another hit after the October 8th debate, but once again recovered quickly ( http://www.realclearpolitics.com/bush_vs_kerry_hth.html ). 

      • Agreed on all points.

        However while I would not be inclined to support Gingrich in the primaries, it’s not clear to me that the majority of US Republicans hold the same view.  Witness the fact that he just won the South Carolina primary.

        • Romney is weak because he is a phony . 47 th in job creation in Mass. Bain put people out of work and that is ok for his investors . Newt is so much stronger . Has the killer`s instinct . Romney is like Gore . Packaged . Can`t think outside the script . What do u think ………

          • True. 

          • Very misleading. Unemployment in Massachusetts was 4.2% when Romney left office. Creating more jobs would mean pushing unemployment below the NAIRU (non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment), at which point inflation would grow up. “Job creation” is only a useful metric in a recession, and even then can be misleading (Texas created a lot of jobs, but has also added a lot more people – they’re unemployment figures look less good than their job creation figures).

            As for Bain, the question shouldn’t be whether or not Bain’s investments ever cost jobs. They were buying up failed companies – many of which would have gone under completely otherwise. And anyway, the relevant figure should be net jobs – how many were created minus how many were lost. Romney’s math may be off, but the figure is overwhelmingly positive (mostly because of Staples).

            Newt is a terrible candidate. If Romney is too staged, Newt’s problem is that he has zero discipline. As speaker he would always throw everybody off with over-the-top statements, or commitments that were impossible to meet. That’s fine when you are an insurgent challenger, but not when you are in a position of leadership, like the presidency or the speaker (Newt’s removal after only 4 years as speaker, makes him one of the shortest serving speakers ever). Romney may be Gore, but Newt’s poor message control reminds me of a Canadian politician who lacked priorities – Paul Martin.

      • “If people are looking for a true conservative, Rick Santorum is a vastly superior choice.”

        There are two kinds of social conservatives in my experience:  those who hold to socially conservative positions out of loyalty (e.g. to their faith, their parents, their upbringing, etc.) and those who hold to socially conservative positions through reason.

        Santorum strikes me as the first.  Solid on all of it, but I question whether he knows why in all cases.  Gingrich strikes me as an opportunist, but it’s also possible he actually has become a social conservative in recent years after decades of being essentially unprincipled.  If that’s true then he’s better because he seems to have a more reasoned basis for what he believes.

        In the end, a quasi-conservative who reasons through what he thinks is almost certainly better than a staunch conservative who doesn’t know why his positions are correct and thus (a) can’t persuade anyone else, and (b) may well flip when the chips are down and he realizes he’s got no basis for his beliefs.  Sort of like all the moral relativist commenters around here who are vehemently opposed to torture, but don’t have a clue why other than some kind of emotional reaction.  Take away (or reverse) the emotional impulse and there would be no limit to the awful things they would do.

  7. And further to my above point, right on cue, from a DEMOCRAT polling company comes this:

    “Among voters who said they were very conservative, 89 percent had an unfavorable opinion of the media and 6 percent had an favorable opinion. Among voters who said they were somewhat conservative, 78 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of the media and 12 percent said they had a favorable opinion. Among voters who said they were moderate, 63 percent had a unfavorable opinion of the media, and 22 percent said they had a favorable opinion. Among voters who said they were somewhat liberal, 48 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of the media and 37 percent said they had a favorable opinion.
    Only among the most liberal voters were there more who said they had a favorable opinion of the media (52 percent) than said they had an unfavorable view (45 percent).”


    Only the “most liberal” like the media. 

    • CNS News?  Did you look at their website? 

      • The poll was by PPP.  Well known, and Democrat based.  Tell me Jan, if a conservative tells you the earth is round, do you reflexively believe it must be flat?

        That the liberal “mainstream” media did not report that they are widely disliked by nearly all, but are liked by their far left bretheren, comes as some surprise to you?

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