Mitt Romney started this week in trouble and ended it in really big trouble, because he is so desperate that he feels that any time he passes on an opportunity to attack Barack Obama, he lengthens his odds of getting elected.
And trust me, for all the Romney camp’s bluster about their “path to victory“, they know they’re in trouble, too.
At the beginning of the week, we were starting to see Obama’s convention bounce not harden, exactly, but jell. (More important, perhaps, was the leap in his job approval to over 50% – considered the magic number for incumbents.) Ann Romney had complained, on Meet the Press, that Mittens had been unfairly demonized, and played her MS card again. (I’m guessing that there aren’t many people in this country who believe that Mitt Romney isn’t supportive of and compassionate towards his wife. They’re wondering whether that compassion filters into the policies he’s is too afraid to describe in detail.)
And then there were the embassy attacks in Cairo and Benghazi. Let’s just say that Mitt didn’t cover himself in glory there. Jonathan Capeheart suggests that a lot of Mitt Romney’s problems are caused by, well, Mitt Romney:
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.
I have a theory that, forget the birth certificate or “must have worked three years in the private sector” requirement for the Presidency that Mitt Romney has suggested. I think anyone running for President should have had a shitty job where they were miserable (or at least not challenged), had no control over their work lives, and could be fired on a moments notice. For one thing, it’s good to know how a huge swath of Americans live every day. For another, I think it’s valuable to get told when you screw up. For all that I’ve read on Mitt Romney, I haven’t seen an instance where that happened – either at Bain, the Olympics, or when he was attacking a gay-looking boy at Cranbrook.
It’s one thing to say that Barack Obama is a weak-willed apology tourist, with no evidence to back you up. That’s politics. It’s quite another to act as if you believe it at the worst possible time (i.e., Tuesday) and have virtually the entire political world slap you down. Here’s another clue: if Bill Kristol is defending you, walk away.
The latest macho talk from the Romney campaign is that the Libya attack wouldn’t have happened under President Romney.
Just like 9/11 wouldn’t have happened under George W. Bush.
Anyway, so we’re at the end of the week, and NBC lays out just how tough Romney’s “path” is:
After the two political conventions, President Obama leads Mitt Romney in three of the most important battleground states, according to new NBC/WSJ/Marist polls. In both Florida and Virginia, Obama is ahead of Romney by five points among likely voters, 49%-44%. In Ohio, the president’s lead is seven points, 50%-43%. “You’d rather be in Obama’s shoes than Romney’s in these three critical states,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. Just how important are these three states? According to our battleground map, Romney likely needs to capture at least two of these states, if not all three, to get to 270 electoral votes. By comparison, Obama can hit or surpass that number by winning just one or two of these battlegrounds. And he even has a path WITHOUT these three states if he wins the toss-up contests of Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. But winning two of these three battlegrounds — Florida, Ohio, and Virginia — checkmates Romney….
Yet here’s the problem for Romney in these polls: Most voters have already made up their minds. Just 5% to 6% say they’re undecided, and more than 80% signal they strongly support their candidate.
The folks at First Read go on to say that the “undecided” voters look like non-voters, making Romney’s climb even steeper.
Now, that’s not to say that the anti-American demonstrations that are spreading through the Muslim world couldn’t cause problems for Barack Obama. I think, in fact, they ARE a problem. But I don’t know how, absent tragedy, Romney exploits them coherently (and he’d have to tread very carefully there, too.) The protests, many of which are about as grassroots as the Tea Party is, are ostensibly a reaction to a “film” that the U.S. won’t censor, and since the Romney critique of Obama was that he wasn’t standing up for free speech, I’m not sure where the wedge is, especially because Romney has now condemned the film as well.
The First Read guys at NBC suggest that Romney may try to shake things ups with…wait for it…a speech. I’m not sure, given that Romney has made it a point of pride to eschew specifics on his domestic policy proposals, and how weak he is on foreign policy, what, exactly, that speech would say.
Anyway, in the set of people who have a realistic shot at winning the Presidency this week, neither man is comfortable, but only Mitt Romney is in deep, deep trouble.