Visual source: Newseum
This is not the lede the Mitt Romney campaign wants to read less than eight weeks out from election day:
A presidential race that has been neck-and-neck for months suddenly isn’t.
In the week after the political conventions ended, President Obama has opened the most significant, sustained lead in the daily Gallup Poll since Mitt Romney emerged as the Republican nominee last spring.
That’s Susan Page at USA Today summing up the consequences of Mitt Romney’s disastrous campaign.
Jonathan Capehart at The Washington Post explains that the problem is Mitt Romney’s overconfidence in his own political abilities:
Romney is a man of many strengths. But one of his weaknesses seems to be supreme confidence in his own abilities and his own gut. How else to explain some of the head-scratching decisions the campaign has made? I’ve heard political professionals say over and over again that this is the result of a meddling principal.
Carter Eskew at The Washington Post points out that the changing race dynamic is getting under Romney’s skin:
Is it breaking bad for Mitt Romney? It certainly seems so. Like Walter White, he seems more than a little angry these days.
Eskew runs down all of the PR setbacks the Romney campaign has suffered in the last few weeks (it’s a long list). You can add this one to the pile from the AP:
A Republican appointed to the Electoral College, Melinda Wadsley was expected to cast her vote for Mitt Romney if he won the state of Iowa in the presidential election.
Wadsley decided Thursday she couldn’t in good conscience vote for Romney – she had backed Ron Paul during the GOP primary – and resigned to allow the Iowa GOP to choose someone else for that duty.
Bill Press points out that a lot of Republicans across the spectrum are probably having buyer’s remorse at this point:
As consumers, we know our rights, one of the most important of which is the right to return and exchange. Whether you’re buying a new flat-screen TV from Best Buy, the new iPhone from Apple, or Daniel Silva’s latest spy thriller from Amazon, if you’re not happy with your purchase you can always take it back and exchange it.
More and more Republicans today are wishing the same policy applied to political candidates. Both publicly and privately they admit they’d like to trade Mitt Romney in for somebody who could win.
Leslie Marshall at US News & World Report:
If Mitt Romney continues to ignore discussing our military, the war in Afghanistan, and national security issues, and attacks the current administration, using an ambassador’s death for his own political gain and to further divide our nation, is he truly fit to be commander in chief?
Remember when Mitt Romney’s strategy was to try and paint President Obama as being an amateur who wasn’t up to the job? Yeah, that was fun. John Cassidy at The New Yorker:
Well, it is widely thought that Romney’s political advisers aren’t the brightest bulbs—his entire campaign has been a litany of errors. What has been less remarked upon is the makeup of Romney’s foreign-policy team. For a former businessman who claims to willing to hire the best and smartest regardless of background, it is a remarkably unimpressive and ideologically driven group, consisting largely of washed up neocons and Cold Warriors, many of whom served in the Administration of George W. Bush.
In other words, Romney the Businessman has made some atrocious hiring decisions and is now enduring the nightmare consequences of those decisions.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney’s campaign is still hemmoraging from this week’s self-inflicted foreign policy wound. Brian Montopoli at CBS News:
Even before Romney put out the statement on Tuesday night, his campaign was facing criticism from Republicans who said that he needed to start offering up specific policy positions and a clear vision for the country. A second top adviser to McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign told CBS News that the Romney campaign has continued to grasp at every “shiny object” that comes its way.
“It’s whatever the thing is of the day, and they can be talking about social issues, or foreign policy, or whatever else, but they’re not talking about a cogent economic plan to move the country,” said the adviser. “These are all probably speed bumps, but they can’t afford any speed bumps.”
“So much for politics ending at the water’s edge,” a third top 2008 McCain campaign adviser added in an email. “Not sure why a campaign that’s only advantage is on the economy wants to talk so much about foreign policy/national security. If Romney wants to pick a fight why isn’t it about jobs. Every day Obama gets to talk about anything other than the economy is a good day for his campaign. Amazing.”
Bob Cesca at The Huffington Post:
One of Romney’s many miscalculations — and a mistake that many hawkish Republicans make is to confuse obnoxious loudness with foreign policy expertise.
The opposite of a foreign policy neophyte isn’t a scolding jerkass who pops off with saber-rattling bromides and political agitprop. Romney could have been a statesman about the events in North Africa and appeared dignified — perhaps qualified — in the process, but instead he decided to be a braying crackpot. Anyone with a lapel pin and a pulse can do that. Leaning on the warhawk slogan switch doesn’t amount to anything resembling international leadership gravitas.
Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post:
To a certain extent, no one should be surprised by Mitt Romney’s decision to seize on — actually, make that exploit — the attack on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Egypt and Libya as ammunition in the presidential campaign. [...] After all, the Republican presidential nominee wrote a book in 2010 premised on, and titled with, the false notion that Barack Obama has been going around the world apologizing for America. [...]
There is something disgraceful happening here, but it doesn’t involve a comment by an obscure embassy spokesman. It is Romney’s cynical, dishonest effort to take advantage of this national tragedy for his own political ends.
Peter Gelzinis at The Boston Herald:
“I think Gov. Romney’s response to this tragedy was sad,” Kerry told me yesterday. “These are moments when ambition and politics need to be checked at the door. You don’t use everything as a chance to score political points.
“You don’t rush out to win a news cycle before you know the facts,” Kerry added, “before families have even been notified. It’s callous and just sad.
“Mitt Romney should have stood up like a president and said, ‘This is a dangerous part of the world, and Ambassador Chris Stevens gave his life helping Libyans to be free.’ That’s what a president says.”
Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post:
The most charitable explanation is that he’s in a panic over polls that show Obama opening a lead. If this is not the case, then Romney’s ignorance of foreign policy is more profound — and potentially dangerous — than anyone could have suspected.