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The GOP's jitters over Mitt Romney

By on July 4, 2012

The base is getting restless:

For an issue that’s supposedly potent against Democrats, Romney’s campaign is declaring a cease fire. This, even as the law polls unfavorably and it proved to be a motivating force for Republicans and disaffected independents in the 2010 midterms.

It’s becoming clear that Romney has decided to focus on the economy at the expense of everything else, even issues that could play to his political benefit. He’s avoided criticizing the administration’s handling of the botched Fast and Furious operation, even as it threatens to become a serious vulnerability for the president. He’s been silent in responding to Obama’s immigration executive order, not wanting to offend receptive Hispanics or appear like a flip-flopper. He appears more likely to tap a safe, bland running mate like Ohio Sen. Rob Portman or former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty who won’t do him any harm but won’t benefit him much either. If the economy continues to sputter, that safe strategy might be enough. If not, his options are limited.

It’s getting frustrated:

Congressional Republicans are reluctant to speak on the record, not wanting to take shots at their nominee, but it’s clear that many of them are not happy. “Romney is quickly proving himself to be what some of us expected, very reactionary without a clear alternative to Obamacare,” said one Republican congressman.

And even pissy:

This ain’t Etch-A-Sketch, Mitt. Go hard or go home.

Andrew Sullivan concludes: Romney’s nothingburger on immigration and restrained response to the ACA ruling make sense with respect to the swing voters. But his fundamental problem, so to speak, is the gulf between them and the base who reluctantly nominated him. The Romney team’s decision to accept that the mandate is a penalty rather than a tax is yet another moment of excruciating positioning: because it’s obvious why Rmoney won’t call it a tax. It would mean he’d raised taxes in Massachusetts, in pioneering Obamacare on a state level.

He’s pinioned by his nothingness. At some point a candidate of so many contradictions understands he just has to be silent to get through to November. His entire candidacy rests on the notion that anti-incumbency in a depressed economy is enough. It may be. But if that’s the campaign, and he loses, the right will go bananas. Yep: even more bananas. That’s one reason some preferred Santorum. A failed, bland, hollow campaign from Romney would settle none of the core issues behind the Republican crisis.

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