My colleague Tim Noah must be a happy man today: the Romney campaign has produced a whole new figure of speech to replace the overused "pivot" for which Noah recently declared his linguistic scorn. On CNN this morning, Romney's chief spokesman and longtime aide Eric Fehrnstrom was asked this: "Is there a concern that the pressure from Santorum and Gingrich might force the governor to tack so far to the right that it might hurt him with moderate voters in the general election?" And here is how Fehrnstrom answered: “Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign.
If Rick Santorum loses as handily in today’s Illinois primary as the polls predict, it will be interesting to see if he expands on his eye-opening new tack: going after Mitt Romney’s lucrative years at Bain Capital. Until this week, Santorum had stood out among Romney’s GOP challengers for refusing to hammer him on his business background, arguing that it was un-conservative for Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman to take up that attack.
The Republican primary has now reached that dread phase where we are required to feign interest in Mitt Romney's victory in Puerto Rico -- amongst voters who will not vote this November unless they catch a plane to Orlando -- and to wonder whether Rick Santorum can repeat his Missouri victory in the delegate-awarding reenactment of that state's nominating contest.
Since I know everyone is as fixated on trying to understand Mitt Romney as I am, I highly recommend Louis Menand’s piece in the latest New Yorker. It's ostensibly a review of The Real Romney, the new biography by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, but basically another entry in the burgeoning “Just who the heck is this guy” genre. Menand tries to answer a question that I took on in my own review of the biography a few weeks ago—why is Romney such a lousy and unnatural candidate on the campaign trail?
Consider it a macabre twist on the "five degrees of separation." Except in this case, it's only two degrees that exist between murderous Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney. The link? A profane and puerile hip-hop duo. Yes, it's that small a world. As you may recall, Romney was involved in an air-rage altercation in February 2010 with Sky Blu, the younger member of the uncle-nephew "party rock" duo LMFAO.
In May 2007, when Barack Obama was but an upstart challenger of Hillary Clinton, he attended a gathering of several dozen hedge fund managers hosted by Goldman Sachs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was not a fund-raiser, just a chance for Obama to introduce himself to the investment wizards who had helped turn the hedge fund sector into the most lucrative and alluring corner of the financial universe. And the first question for Obama was as blunt as one would expect from this crowd.
The Romney campaign, as well as the Last of the Mohican Moderates like David Frum, are doing their best to downplay Rick Santorum’s wins in Alabama and Mississippi by casting those states as deeply unrepresentative of the national electorate (less representative than American Samoa?).
The year before his 2010 retirement from the Senate, Ohio Republican George Voinovich offered one of the more candid and colorful recent assessments of what had happened to his party. Asked by The Columbus Dispatch what his party's biggest problem was, he answered: "We got too many Jim DeMints and Tom Coburns. It's the southerners. They get on TV and go 'errrr, errrrr.' People hear them and say, 'These people, they're southerners. The party's being taken over by southerners.
Late last week, I drew attention to a Joan Vennochi column in the Boston Globe that drew the connection between Ann Romney’s musings on health and wealth—her implication that having the latter matters less than the former—and her husband’s pledge to do away with the national universal health care law modeled on the law he signed in Massachusetts, both of which are geared to help people who, like Ann Romney, suffer from preexisting conditions like Multiple Sclerosis but who lack Romneyesque resources to care for their conditions.