Romney Taking Hits in Republican Party as Polls Show Obama Edge
Republican Mitt Romney is being hit with criticism in his own party over the tone and direction of the election campaign with a narrowing window of time to regroup.
Even as Romney tried to transform his latest stumble into an attack on President Barack Obama, a series of national polls showed the incumbent's lead growing, leaving some Republicans anxious about his prospects, uncomfortable with the management of his campaign and impatient for him to turn the contest around.
“He’s had two narratives over the last week and a half: one that says, ‘Is he compassionate?’; the other that says, ‘Is he competent?’,” Matthew Dowd, a Bloomberg analyst and former strategist for President George W. Bush, said on Bloomberg Television. “Both of those have created this opportunity for the president to reinforce a lead that he was already gaining.”
Less than 50 days before Election Day and less than two weeks before the first of three debates against Obama, Romney is still working to get his campaign back on track after the Sept. 17 release of a secretly recorded video of his remarks to donors in which he described 47 percent of Americans as government- dependent “victims” who don’t pay taxes and won’t vote for him.
“This is a campaign about the 100 percent,” he said last night when asked about that comment at a forum in Miami with the Spanish-language television network Univision. “Now I know that I’m not going to get 100 percent of the vote and my campaign will focus on those people we think we can bring in to support me, but this is a campaign about helping people who need help.”
The appearance, broadcast only in Spanish, marked a break from a week dominated by fundraising, a schedule that left Romney ill-suited to manage the fallout from the video, recorded at a fundraiser in May. The former Massachusetts governor also held a rally in Miami last night, his first campaign event open to the public since the emergence of the recording.
Under pressure from Republicans to spend more time campaigning, Romney aides were considering adding stops in Colorado and Ohio to a schedule that planned to have the candidate spending much of the weekend at his beachside home in La Jolla, California.
The tape surfaced about a week after Romney drew bipartisan criticism for attacking the Obama administration’s response to protests in the Middle East that caused the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, including the U.S. ambassador there.
Obama faces his own challenges, with U.S. unemployment having stayed above 8 percent for 43 consecutive months. Presidential campaigns also can be transformed in a day, and the debates next month will provide Romney with an opportunity to rebound.
Republican and Democratic leaders continue to expect a close race, and Romney is working to pivot back to his economic message and a campaign focused on hammering Obama’s record. Speaking to donors in Atlanta yesterday, Romney reframed the controversy as a broader political debate over the role of government.
“The question in this campaign is not who cares about the poor and the middle class,” he said, adding that both he and Obama share that feeling. “The question is who can help the middle class. I can, he can’t.”
Romney and the Republican Party also are trying to draw attention to another tape -- newly released audio of a talk Obama gave 14 years ago at a Loyola University conference in Chicago in which he said he supported “redistribution,” to “make sure everybody’s got a shot.” Obama was an Illinois state senator at the time.
“He really believes in what I’ll call a government- centered society,” Romney said in Atlanta.