How noteworthy it is that none of the Republican leaders in Washington have seen fit to defend Mitt Romney in his time of trouble. He’s being left to twist in the wind this week, after having been glimpsed in a video voicing contempt for the “47 percent” of Americans who (in his view) are mere rabble, self-styled victims who just wanna live off the government dime. But what’s even more injurious to his candidacy are the growing number of Republicans and conservatives who have come forward to denounce him.
A presidential nominee who sows discord within his own party, especially this late in the game, is typically in big trouble. Here’s a fresh sampling of opinion, from a very dispirited dozen:
Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer, on Fox News: “He said that these are people who consider themselves ‘victims.’ That’s not a very smart thing to say, and it’s not even accurate. And you don’t win an election by disparaging just about half the electorate…The way he put it was just about the worst possible way.”
Ex-George W. Bush speechwriter and longtime conservative scholar David Frum: “Mitt Romney has just committed the worst presidential-candidate gaffe since Gerald Ford announced in 1976 that ‘there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.”
Ex-George W. Bush strategist Mark McKinnon: “Mitt Romney is running out of time, and voters like me are running out of patience….The release of the Romney tape was a moment that certainly revealed something about him. But not what I was hoping for. Just the opposite. It reveals a deeply cynical man, who sees the country as completely divided, as two completely different sets of people, and who would likely govern in a way that would only further divide us….I honestly don’t know what Romney can do to win support from the voters he needs to gain a majority. I thought the debates would be an opportunity, but he has dug his hole so deeply now, I don’t know if he can pull himself out.”
Republican Senator Dean Heller, running for re-election in swing state Nevada: “I have a very different view of the world (than Romney). I represent everyone, and every vote is important. I don’t write off anyone…My father was an auto mechanic. My mother was a school cook. I have a very different view of the world because of how I was raised.”
Republican Senator Scott Brown, running for re-election in Massachusetts: Romney’s characterization of the less fortunate “is not the way I view the world. As someone who grew up in tough circumstances, I know that being on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in.”
Ex-Reagan speechwriter and Republican commentator Peggy Noonan: “This is not how big leaders talk, it’s how shallow campaign operatives talk….They’re usually young enough and dumb enough that nobody holds it against them, but they don’t know anything. They don’t know much about America….We are people. We have souls. We are complex. We are not data points. Many things go into our decisions and our political affiliations. You have to be sophisticated to know that. And if you’re operating at the top of national politics, you’re supposed to be sophisticated.”
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, one of the GOP’s rising stars: “We have a lot of people that are at the poverty level in New Mexico, but they count just as much as anybody else.”
Republican strategist John Feehery: “The point on the 47 percent was the wrong point to make, and if you’re running for president, you have to get as many votes as you can. A lot of those in the 47 percent are people who want to vote for Mitt Romney.”
Karl Rove, similarly concerned that Romney had stereotyped and potentially alienated the many 47 percenters who normally tilt Republican: “A lot of people who get a Social Security check paid into that their entire lives and they’re plenty wired up about the deficit; and there are a lot of people getting an unemployment check who would love to have a job. So you’ve got to be careful about that (47 percent) number.”
Ex-Virginia congressman Tom Davis, a former member of the House GOP leadership, when asked what kind of candidate writes off nearly half the electorate: “No one with any political instincts.”
Republican senatorial candidate Linda McMahon of Connecticut: “I disagree with Governor Romney’s insinuation that 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims who must depend on government for their care. I know that the vast majority of those who rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be.”
And conservative Fox News regular William Kristol: “Romney seems to have contempt not just for the Democrats who oppose him, but for tens of millions who intend to vote for him.” Romney’s remarks were “stupid and arrogant.”
Oh, by the way, here are the latest poll numbers, fresh from the most critical swing states: In Florida, President Obama tops Romney by five points. In Virginia, Obama tops Romney by seven. In Ohio, Obama tops Romney by seven.
Those numbers landed in my email box last night, courtesy of the organization that sponsored the poll…Fox News.
All of which prompts a bonus 13th quote, this one from Republican strategist Greg Strimple: “The campaign is now in a spiral and no one knows how to pull it out.”
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