Romney: An Etch-a-Sketch Too Far?

UPDATE #2: Colorado Sen. Mark Udall was on NBC News’ “The Cycle” this afternoon to discuss Romney’s, uh, changes. Here’s the video:



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UPDATE: FOX 31’s Eli Stokols reports as local Democrats open fire:

“The American women will not be fooled by a Mitt Romney who is trying to be everything to everyone at the end of this election,” said Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette, D-Denver, on a conference call Wednesday organized by the Obama campaign.

“Throughout this campaign, Mitt who describes himself as ‘severely conservative’, has come out and said he opposes all abortion and supports Personhood amendments,” DeGette continued. “Suddenly, in October, Mitt Romney says he knows of no legislation that would restrict abortion.

“We had nine pieces that would restrict a women’s right just last year. If those passed the House and the Senate and were sent on to a President Romney, we know he would sign them.”

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Bloomberg:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he doesn’t intend to pursue anti-abortion legislation if elected, a stance that threatens to alienate some core supporters just as he’s surging in national polls.

“There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda,” Romney told The Des Moines Register’s editorial board yesterday before an event in the swing state of Iowa… [Pols emphasis]

While Romney’s comments may widen his appeal among independent female voters, they risk raising questions among other independents about where he stands on the issue and depressing turnout among anti-abortion Republicans who already had misgivings about his past positions.

The abortion remarks overshadowed Romney’s attempt to accelerate his campaign’s momentum coming out of his first debate with Obama and as the two candidates were making their pitches to voters in Ohio, a state that has voted for the winner in the past 12 presidential elections.

Now in case there’s any doubt in your mind about where Romney used to stand:

While seeking the Republican nomination, Romney vowed to limit abortion funding.

In September, he said he would appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that established a woman’s right to abortion.

“I hope to appoint justices to the Supreme Court that will follow the law and the constitution,” he said at the time on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It would be my preference that they reverse Roe v. Wade and therefore they return to the people and their elected representatives the decisions with regards to this important issue.”

ABC News goes back to 2007 for this unequivocal gem:

[O]n “Good Morning America,” Romney was asked by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos if he supports the Republican Party’s 2004 platform on abortion rights, which states, “We support a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”

Romney replied, “You know, I do support the Republican platform, and I support that being part of the Republican platform [Pols emphasis] and I’m pro-life.”

CBS News adds:

In an interview with an Ohio TV station during the heat of the Republican primary in February, Romney said he was “in favor of a pro-life policy.” He noted that “the legislation that relates to abortion is something which is going to have to be approved by the Supreme Court,” a body to which he would appoint nominees to fill any vacancies if he is elected.

Mitt Romney could be in fresh Ken Buck-style trouble here, facing the classic dilemma of needing to moderate ahead of a general election, but still shackled to statements he made during the long Republican primary. There’s no clearer case of a candidate attempting to flip-flop than for Mitt Romney, after repeatedly affirming his anti-abortion credentials on the primary campaign trail, to suddenly declare in October that “there’s no legislation with regards to abortion that would become part of my agenda.” Either Romney lied then, or he’s lying now.

And it’s worse for Romney; flip-flopping in October is what the cynics expect him to do.

In a base-turnout election like this one, which is the smarter strategy? Enrage your base to attempt to court the center, or shore up the base you’re counting on to win the election?

Just like Rick Santorum warned of, Romney has made his choice.

Live Blog of Presidential Debate

FINAL BUZZER: Obama definitely “won” the debate, but left a lot of points on the table and missed some opportunities to really clobber Romney.

Romney didn’t fail, but he didn’t impress. That would be well and good if he was the frontrunner, but he’s not. Fed into the narrative that he changes his mind and doesn’t have strong specifics.

8:56: Debate is over. Everyone shakes hands, endless stream of Romney children and grandchildren come on stage.

8:54: Romney closes by promising not to cut funding from military. Really odd choice for a final point, since he can’t win the military/foreign policy issue.

8:52: Will we get one final list from Romney?

“I’ll get incomes up again,” says Romney. How? Magic!

8:51: Closing statements. Obama goes first. Apparently there was a coin toss.

“Four years ago, I said I’m not a perfect man and I probably won’t be a perfect President.” Nice close.

8:50: Nice shot by Obama, who says Romney hasn’t shown a willingness to say no to any extreme idea proposed by his party.

8:48: Obama says he will take ideas from anybody, Democrat or Republican, as long as they are advancing things and making them stronger.

Obama finally mentions Osama bin Laden. That must have been really hard to sit on that card for so long.

8:47: Romney says we have to work together because there is common ground. Has he not seen Congress?

8:45: Lehrer says there are only 3 minutes left, then takes about 2 minutes trying to ask a question about partisan gridlock.

8:44: Hey, look at that. Romney made a funny. He said Obama not entitled to his own facts.

Now he’s back on the $90 billion invested in renewable energy.

8:43: Obama droning on a little.

8:42: It would be hard to be more boring than Romney.

8:41: Things are getting repetitive. Obama answering question about federal government role in education with same points made earlier.

8:40: Lehrer asks for specifics on plans. Romney looks excited — he can’t wait to start another list.

8:39: Romney morphing into a Tea Party robot.

8:38: Romney says that he loves schools and teachers…then says that it’s up to states whether they want more teachers. Dumbass.

8:37: Obama says Romney doesn’t think we need more teachers, “but I do.”

8:36: No idea what Obama is talking about now.

8:34: Lehrer asked another question, but we didn’t catch it. Obama says first role of government is to keep people safe. Romney seems puzzled.

8:32: Romney is brutal. He’s terrible at this. We’re 90 minutes into the debate and he hasn’t said anything memorable. He also hasn’t proved that he can count higher than 4.

8:31: And…momentum stops again. Obama seemed to be on a solid line of attack but never got there.

8:30: Obama coming back to life, lands another shot. Says Romney’s plan is basically what we have already.

8:29: Romney says that key to bringing down healthcare costs is “performance incentives.”

8:28: “#1, #2, #3…” This isn’t a high school debate, Gov’nuh.

8:27: Obama lands minor shot. Says Romney hasn’t said what he’ll do instead of Obamacare. We sense another list coming from Romney.

8:25: Obama not landing any blows despite open shot. Instead he’s trying to explain the “death panel” thing.

8:23: Romney talking about Romneycare. He’s really looking bad now. Just seems completely flustered. He’s like a punch-drunk boxer wobbling around waiting to get knocked out.

8:21: Missed opportunity for Obama here. Took too long trying to make a point that Obamacare is like Romneycare. By the time he got to the punchline, the message was lost.

8:20: Obama clarifying Obamacare. Says “Insurance companies can’t jerk you around.”

8:20: Obama has a great chance to land a huge shot now…and…and…never mind.

8:19: This was inevitable when you just repeat lists. Romney just listed two points, calling each point “#4.” He’s looking silly now.

8:18: Romney trying to be folksy by talking about people he has met who can’t afford health cares. Doesn’t say whether or not he gives a shit, but he’s trying to tell a story.

8:18: Lehrer asks about Obamacare.

8:17: Romney talking about “qualified mortgages.” This is why he’s probably not going to be President. The average American has no idea what the hell he’s talking about.

8:16: Obama says Romney wants to repeal Dodd-Frank. Obama finally comes back to life and says if you think there was too much regulation of Wall Street, then Gov. Romney is your candidate. Body blow.

8:15: This has officially gotten boring. Somebody throw a shoe or something.

8:14: Romney says something about Dodd-Frank. Lehrer interrupts: “Do you support Dodd-Frank?”

America says, “WTF?”

8:12: Lehrer seems flustered. Romney is hurting his brain with listapalooza.

8:11: Obama seems to have been put to sleep as well. He’s talking about…something.

8:10: Does Romney know that he’s not leading this race? Because he’s putting America to sleep with endless stacks of numbers and random facts. Maybe he just wants to make sure he lands the “Accountant” voting block.

8:09: Here comes another list from Romney!

8:08: On a bipartisan note, both men seem to have done a nice job on their facial makeup.

8:07: Romney says the plan they are talking about “is for future people, not current retirees.” Uh…yeah. “Future people.”

8:06: An hour into the debate, here’s Romney’s strategy: List five numbers, mention something about Obama, list five more numbers.

8:05: Romney says our seniors depend on these programs. Says “neither the President nor I are proposing changes for current retirees.” After a beat, Romney says, “Oh wait, there is one.” Another Romney staffer’s head explodes.

8:03: Obama tells story about his grandmother who worked hard but needed Social Security and Medicare. Obama is clearly a much better storyteller than Romney. He’s weaving a narrative rather than just blurting bullet points.

8:02: Lehrer asks about Social Security and other entitlements.

8:00: For the love of Ronald Reagan, stop spewing random numbers, Romney. His response to every question is to say as many numbers as he can in two minutes.

7:58: Romney bursting at the seams to rattle off numbers. Says oil company tax breaks is really just an accounting trick.

Obama: “It’s time to end it.”

Romney flustered by that. Says $90 billion in tax breaks for solar and wind.

$90 billion? That seems a bit high. FACT CHECK!

7:56: Obama now talking about teacher in Las Vegas who has 42 students and not enough books. Where’d that segway come from?

7:55: Obama says oil industry gets $4 billion in corporate welfare. “Does anybody think ExxonMobil needs extra money? Why wouldn’t we want to eliminate that?” These are the kind of lines that really hit home.

7:54: Romney: “Spain spends 42 percent of its budget on government. We’re now spending 42 percent of our budget on government. I don’t want to go down the path to Spain.”

Obama tries to hide a wide grin. The rest of America says, “What’s wrong with Spain?”

7:53: Romney going on and on and on about “trillion dollar deficits.” Whoever told him to list as many facts and numbers as possible should be canned.

7:52: Lehrer asks Romney, “What about Simpson-Bowles”. America responds, “Who the what?”

7:50: Obama getting lost in numbers.

7:48: Obama listing things that he reduced or streamlined. Just listing things like Romney is not Obama’s strong point.

7:46: Romney keeps saying, #1, #2, #3, etc. Plan for debate must have included trying to sound like he was making specific points.

7:45: Romney says he’ll cut PBS and looks at Lehrer. “I love PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too.” But we can’t borrow money from China. WTF?

7:44: Romney goes first. Says deficit reduction is a moral issue, then steps right into the giant hole that Obama just dug for him. Insists that he can lower taxes and everything else and still raise revenue to cut deficit.

7:43: Lehrer asks new question. What are the differences between you two about how you would tackle the deficit.

7:41: Somewhere a Romney advisor’s head is exploding. Romney just babbling tossing out numbers and statistics.

7:40: Romney trying to get the last word — seems to understand he is getting pummeled.

7:38: Another good shot for Obama. “I would say this to the American people. If you believe that we can make $5 trillion in tax cuts and add $2 trillion in additional spending – $7 trillion dollars – by closing loopholes and deductions for the well to do, that you won’t end up picking up the tab, then maybe Gov. Romney’s plan is for you. I think math, common sense, and our history has shown that this isn’t a recipe for jobs growth.”

Obama says Romney’s plan is the same one from 2002-03 that caused economic recession. Says his plan is more like Clinton’s that was successful.

7:36: Romney rattling off a bunch of different numbers and names of taxes. Now floating off into wonk-ville.

7:35: Lehrer says they aren’t on time, as if that was going to be possible.

7:34: Obama wanders off into nowhere and seems to have lost his train of thought.

7:32: Obama lands another big blow. “Now, 5 weeks before election, he’s saying that his big, bold idea is ‘never mind.’ It is not possible to come up with enough loopholes and deductions to accomplish what he [Romney] wants.

“It’s math,” says Obama.

7:31: Romney blathering on about economic studies before Lehrer mercifully cuts him off.

7:30: Romney says he will lower taxes on middle income families but will not raise taxes for high income people. Maybe he’ll tax Canada if elected President of North America.

7:28: Romney says virtually everything Obama said about his tax plan is inaccurate. “I’m not for a $5 trillion tax cut.”

Now for the most ridiculous statement thus far. Romney: “There is no economist who can say Mitt Romney’s tax plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit to the tax plan.” Economic theory be damned! If Romney says it, then it will happen!

7:25: Obama responds. Says he promised to cut taxes for middle class four years ago, and he did.

Says Romney’s proposal calls for a $5 trillion tax cut on top of $2 trillion spending for military. Says Romney claims he would do this by closing loopholes, but has never mentioned specifics despite being asked hundreds of times.

“When you add up all the loopholes and deductions that the upper class enjoys, you come close to reaching that $5 trillion.” First blow of debate landed. Point: Obama.

7:23: This one is going to come back to bite him in the ass. Romney says he won’t push a tax cut that adds to the deficit.” What fiscal magic is this?

7:22: Romney says, “And by the way, I like coal.” Says he wants to get “North America energy independent.” Is he aware that this election is only for the Presidency of the U.S.?

7:21: Romney makes an absurd argument while Obama smiles. He says that oil and gas production is on the rise, but not because of Obama’s policies. Romney says the increased production is on private lands, not on government land.

7:20: Now Romney is talking about credits and debits and…we fell asleep. Is he done?

7:19: Romney tried coining a phrase “the economy tax.” Says middle income families are struggling. This is the same guy, mind you, who thinks “middle class” make about $200k a year.

7:18: Romney says his plan doesn’t call for a huge tax cut. “My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to the middle class.” Glad he cleared that up. Not a tax cut — a tax relief.

“I’m not going to reduce share of taxes paid by high income people…They’ll do fine whether you’re President or I am.” Romney pulls out a hundred-dollar bill and wipes his brow.

7:17: Uh, okay. Romney is asked if he has a question he’d like to ask Obama about something he just said. Is this Jim Lehrer moderating a debate or a divorce settlement?

7:15: Obama takes first swing of the night. Says Romney’s central economic plan is for a $5 trillion tax cut, and $3 trillion in other cuts and military spending that the military hasn’t asked for. Says how to do this without dumping on middle class is one of central issues in this campaign. Romney smirking.

7:14: Obama talks about more community college students. Close loopholes for shipping jobs overseas. Says that he and Romney both agree that we need to increase energy production in traditional sources and wind, solar, biofuels.

7:13: Obama starts talking about his economic plan. Not sure why he didn’t do that 5 minutes ago.

First point is to improve schools. Talks about “Race to the Top” program. Obama wants to hire 100,000 new math and science teachers. Students everywhere groan.

7:11: Next question for Obama: Respond to the “trickle down economics” theory.

7:10: Romney: I know what it takes to get small business going again. “I’ll restore the vitality that gets America going again.” Whatever the hell that means.

7:09: #3 Give people tools to succeed and best schools in the world. #4 Balanced budget. #5 Champion small business. Romney says that in the last four years, people have decided not to open a small business in America. Apparently they are waiting on Romney’s magic fairy dust…or is that point #6?

7:08: Romney talking about people he met who want jobs. Now laying out his plan. #1 Energy independence, #2 Open up more trade, particularly in Latin America. Crack down on China, particularly when they cheat (is this part of #2?)

7:07: Romney’s turn. “This is obviously a very tender topic.”

7:06: Obama’s answer…kind of blah.

7:05: Obama says question is not about “where we’ve been, but where we’re going.”

7:04: First question about jobs. Obama says his 20th wedding anniversary is today.

7:00: And we’re underway. Barack Obama enters wearing a blue tie, Mitt Romney with a red tie.

Bill O’Reilly Almost (Not Quite) Correct on Romney Problem

We normally don’t pay much attention to the blustering of national pundits like Bill O’Reilly, but this post from Salon caught our attention for another reason. Take a gander:

Bill O’Reilly has a theory about why Mitt Romney is trailing in the polls in key swing states: The Internet. “Everybody is now diverted, their attention is diverted, because they have machines 24-7,” O’Reilly said on his show, speaking with guest Laura Ingraham. “They’re texting, whatever they’re doing. They dont have time to read, they dont have time to watch news programs, they dont have time to do anything.”

What’s fascinating about this discussion is the idea that voters would like Mitt Romney if only they knew more about him. It’s a bizarre analysis of one of Romney’s fundamental problems (discussed endlessly by pundits poring over polling data), which is that voters seem to dislike Romney the more they see/hear/read about his campaign. In other words, if O’Reilly is correct that voters are too disengaged and not paying attention to the race for President…well, that should actually help Romney’s chances.  

Mitt Romney On Road to Craterville?

It has not been a good couple of days for Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, whose campaign seems to be teetering on the edge of falling into the dreaded “crater” from which candidates never emerge. Our friends at “The Fix” run down the problem(s):

Evidence of campaign infighting has put Mitt Romney in a place that no candidate wants to be with just 50 days left before an election – caught between re-tooling a message that appears to be flagging and the inevitable “Is the campaign imploding?” questions that such a strategic shift will cause.

In the wake of a Politico story that detailed campaign strife largely aimed at Romney lead political strategist Stuart Stevens, the campaign held a conference call this morning led by former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie designed to stamp out the story – and make clear that his candidate is going to start talking more specifically about his own plan to turn the economy around…

…While Gillespie didn’t face any direct questions about the Politico story, the piece loomed over the call; at the start of the call, Gillespie touted the party’s strong convention – in a seeming direct response to the allegations made in the Politico story that it had been a comedy of errors. (“What’s a big deal is they are behind and blew the convention,” said one senior Republican operative granted anonymity to speak candidly about the Romney effort.)

To be clear: Average people almost certainly have no idea that the Romney campaign is facing inner turmoil. But, the Republican activist and donors bases as well as – most importantly – the party’s political professional class certainly do.

Given that reality, to do nothing in the face of the criticism of the campaign would be to ensure further criticism, which, in turn, would fuel more stories about the Romney campaign in disarray. (Hello vicious cycle!)

NBC News expands on the problems:

Handwringing about Romney, especially among conservatives, many of whom have never fully embraced Romney, is nearing a fever pitch. RedState editor Erick Erickson wrote Monday that Romney “has failed to close any deal with the voters and his message is so muddled no voter really knows what they are getting.”  The posting by Erickson also predicted that Obama would win the election if it were held today.

While “The Fix” is correct that average voters probably aren’t aware of Romney’s escalating problems, that doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous for Republicans. In politics, as in much of life, perception is reality; if the perception grows that Romney is starting to crater, then more and more Republicans will repeat that fear until it becomes self-fulfilling. Some, like RedState editor Erick Erickson, may only be looking for a reason to abandon ship.

There was a perception among many Republicans in the fall of 1996 that Senator Bob Dole was just not going to be able to beat President Bill Clinton. The circumstances with Romney are certainly different, but the perception problem is not. Romney’s campaign must plug the infighting leak and kill the perception that there is a serious problem — and fast — before that narrative begins to take hold. It doesn’t take long for supporters to lose their enthusiasm, or worse, give up hope altogether that Romney can beat Obama.

Republicans Worry About Ryan Effect on House, Senate

We’ve discussed at length the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate. But there is another side to Ryan’s selection, and it has some Republicans concerned about the fallout. From The Hill:

Republicans strategists are worried that Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) addition to the presidential ticket will cost their party House and Senate seats this fall.

Their concern: Democrats will successfully demonize Ryan’s budget plan, which contains controversial spending cuts and changes to Medicare.

“There are a lot races that are close to the line we’re not going to win now because they’re going to battle out who’s going to kill grandma first, ObamaCare or Paul Ryan’s budget,” said one Republican strategist who works on congressional races. “It could put the Senate out of reach. In the House it puts a bunch of races in play that would have otherwise been safe. … It remains to be seen how much damage this causes, but my first blush is this is not good.”

Many Republicans in tough races this year, especially in the House, voted for Ryan’s proposal, which makes it hard for them to distance themselves from it.

Democratic challengers such as Joe Miklosi have already spent months trying to pin the Ryan budget on their opponents, and turning the national spotlight to the Wisconsin Representative only makes that effort easier.

Romney Veepstakes: Who’s It Gonna Be?

The Republican National Convention in Tampa is just 17 days away, which means that Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney should be wrapping up his process for picking a running mate.

What say you, Polsters? Does Romney need to go bold in the face of concerning polling numbers? Or does he stay conservative (politically and image-wise)? Click below to cast your vote. Our 5 choices are taken from our friends at “The Fix.”

Who Will Romney Choose as His Running Mate?

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Three New Polls Indicate Obama May Be Pulling Away

From NBC First Thoughts:

There’s clearly movement toward the president and clearly problems for Romney personally. We had found it in our polling for the last month and it hadn’t shown up everywhere yet. Now it has. The latest evidence: three new polls out today – from CNN, Fox, and Reuters/Ipsos – all showing President Obama leading Romney by seven points or more and at or near 50%. (CNN 52-45%, Fox 49-40%, Reuters/Ipsos 49-42%). What’s more, Romney continues to have an image problem. In CNN, Obama’s fav/unfav is +14, Romney’s -1. And in Fox, Obama’s +12, Romney’s +1. (Ipsos didn’t ask fav/unfav.)[Pols emphasis]

Yes, we know the only poll that really matters is the one in November, but tired political cliches aside, Mitt Romney supporters have to be more than a little concerned by these new numbers. As we’ve always said, the most important figures in any polls are the favorable/unfavorable ratings, and that story does not bode well for Romney. For whatever the reason, people just don’t like Romney. You can talk about issues and the economy all you want, but it’s hard to get elected to any office — let alone the Presidency — if people just flat don’t like you.  

Who Will Win Colorado in the Race for President?

With GOP Candidate Mitt Romney in Colorado and President Barack Obama up next, now is a good time to ask our regular poll question: Who do you think will win Colorado in the Race for President?

As always, we want to know what you truly think will happen — not what you hope will happen or who you support. Poll after the jump.

Who Will Win Colorado in the Race for President?

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We Hate the Government (Thanks for the Loans, Though)

Just an absolute classic story by Eli Stokols at Fox 31, taking time to ask a few more questions and getting richly rewarded:

“We’ve got a group of business people here – including myself – who really take offense to the idea that government builds businesses,” said Dave Leinweber, the owner of Angler’s Covey, at Monday morning’s press event. “We create the jobs. We’ve doubled our work force here because of our hard work, not because of some program or anything like that. We’ve just worked hard.”

But, in an interview with FOX31 Denver, Leinweber also acknowledged that, as much as he was frustrated by government regulation, he was only able to finance his business’s expansion to a new, larger location with a loan backed by – yep, you guessed it – a government program that enabled him to get a small business loan. [Pols emphasis]

The Small Business Administration (SBA) loan enabled Angler’s Covey to leave its old 2,500 square foot home and build a new 6,500 square foot facility along Highway 24 adjacent to two casting ponds right outside its front door where customers can cast and compare rods before buying.

You really couldn’t make up a better question and answer. Nice job, again, by Mitt Romney’s campaign in vetting spokespeople, but at what point will people stop the fake rage against the evil “government” when they knowingly take advantage of government programs?

Try Not to Insult Your Hosts Before You Arrive

UPDATE: Maybe it’s time to move on to Poland and leave England early. Romney is killing himself with ridiculous comments. From Huffington Post:

The Telegraph posted an op-ed about the gaffes that read, “Mitt Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive.”

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Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney arrived in London today on the first stop of a brief overseas trip designed to show that he has international relations chops. We talked yesterday about the racially-tinged gaffe by one of Romney’s advisors in advance of his arrival in London. As CNN reports, it’s not gone much better since, thanks to Romney’s own big mouth:

Early Thursday morning in the U.K., while much of the U.S. political world was fast asleep, the British press had seized on comments the GOP contender made about London’s preparations for the Olympics…

…The headline on the main page for London’s Daily Telegraph news site was not what the Romney campaign had in mind for this visit: “Mitt Romney questions whether Britain is ready for Olympic Games.”

During a visit to London’s chief Olympic stadium, British Prime Minister David Cameron was asked for a response to Romney’s comments. Cameron put diplomacy aside and took direct issue with Romney’s remarks.

“I think we will show the whole world not just that we come together as a United Kingdom but also we’re extremely good at welcoming people from across the world,” Cameron said to reporters just hours before his own scheduled visit with the GOP contender.

“I will obviously make those points to Mitt Romney. I look forward to meeting him,” Cameron added, mentioning the Republican candidate by name.

D’Oh! Cameron went on to rip Romney further regarding his Olympics comments, which should make for an incredibly awkward meeting when the two are face-to-face.

How Bad Are Romney’s Tax Returns?

THURSDAY UPDATE: Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez was a bad surrogate for himself. Romney’s campaign might want to find someone else to respond to stuff like this, as Fox 31’s  Eli Stokols reports:

Six years ago, Beauprez’s campaign demanded that his primary opponent, Marc Holzman, come clean with his own tax returns, even though Beauprez didn’t recall that when asked about it on Wednesday.

“We might have,” Beauprez said. “I don’t think I cared much about it because I knew we were going to win. But the campaign might have called for that.”

Indeed.

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Yesterday we pondered the question of how long Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney can continue to refuse to release tax returns beyond what little he has offered to this point. The obvious conclusion to make here is that there are things in those tax returns that are potentially very damaging to Romney — why else would he just stand there and take blow after blow when he could stop the questions whenever he wants?

As The Huffington Post reports today, maybe his tax returns really are that bad:

Mitt Romney has been determined to resist releasing his tax returns at least since his bid for Massachusetts governor in 2002 and has been confident that he will never be forced to do so, several current and former Bain executives tell The Huffington Post. Had he thought otherwise, say the sources based on their longtime understanding of Romney, he never would have gone forward with his run for president.

Bain executives say they’ve been instructed to keep company and Romney-specific information completely confidential, tightening the lockdown on an already closed company.

But pressure has been building on the presumptive GOP nominee. On Tuesday, the conservative National Review added its voice to a chorus of Republicans pushing him to disclose his returns from the years before 2010…

…A variety of possible explanations for Romney’s refusal to release the returns have flowed into the information vacuum. The Obama campaign has floated the notion that maybe he payed no taxes at all in some years. Others have wondered if he was part of the Swiss tax evasion scandal of 2009.

It seems clear that Romney isn’t going to be able to just refuse to release his returns and hope people stop asking for them. But maybe the alternative is just too risky for his campaign to ponder.

What say you, Polsters? What is in Romney’s tax returns that is so dangerous to his campaign?

Romney, Bain and Tax Returns – How Long Does He Hold On?

Interesting stuff from our friends at “The Fix“:

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney continues to be steadfast in his refusal to release any more than his last two years of tax returns, a position that has already become a distraction to his presidential campaign and could cause considerably more agita if he doesn’t figure out a better answer – and soon.

“Perception is becoming Romney’s reality and these issues have now risen above mere distractions,” said John Weaver, a Republican consultant and former senior adviser to Sen. John McCain’s (R) 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns. “The President has had the worst three months of any incumbent, due to the economy, since George H.W. Bush in 1992, and yet Romney has lost traction among key demographic groups in the vital swing states. He has got to get this behind him or he’s going to face summer definition ala [Bob] Dole and [John] Kerry.”…

…No matter what’s in the tax returns – and our guess is that Romney likely paid very little taxes for several years due to the fact he was not drawing a salary – it can’t be worse than slowly dying a political death of 1,000 cuts as the media (and the Obama campaign) speculate about just why Romney won’t release his returns.

The truth – in politics and in life – is almost always less damaging than what the imagination can conjure. While the tax return debate is a no-win for Romney, he’d be better to lance this political boil once and for all. It’s not going away and if he doesn’t it’s only likely to grow.

What say you, Polsters? If you were advising the Romney campaign, what would you suggest?

Marco Rubio, You Are NOT the Next Contestant on the VP Sweeps

As our friends at “The Fix” report, Sarah Palin probably ruined Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s chances at becoming Mitt Romney’s running mate:

The news that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio isn’t being seriously vetted by Mitt Romney’s vice presidential selection team is both surprising and enlightening.

Surprising because many people – the Fix included – had touted him early and often as a potential frontrunner to be Romney’s number two. (Heck, we compared him to Lionel Messi!)

Enlightening because it provides us a window into the sort of person that Romney (and Beth Myers, his head of vice presidential vetting) are looking for in a running mate.

That person? Someone whose credentials and readiness are beyond question. And, more than likely, someone who calls to mind “plain” more than “pizzazz”.

Rubio – as well as New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte who, according to the Post’s Phil Rucker, are also not being seriously vetted – are relative newcomers on the national political scene with relatively thin resumes to date.

Romney’s decision not to consider the Rubios, Martinezes and Ayottes of the world suggest that the campaign is very aware of what we would call the “Palin factor”.

Romney and “Rose Garden” Strategy

Interesting stuff from our friends at “The Fix“:

Romney has adopted a classic “Rose Garden” strategy in recent months, largely refusing to engage in extended – or frequent – question and answer sessions with reporters on the trail or sit down with TV anchors for more extended interviews.

Romney is breaking from that course somewhat this weekend, agreeing to appear on CBS’ “Face the Nation” – his first non-Fox News Channel Sunday show interview since announcing he was running for president in 2011. Viewed broadly, what Romney is trying to do is obvious. Republicans believe – and they are almost certainly right – that if the November election is a referendum on President Obama and his handling of the economy, they win…

…The bar a challenger must clear to be considered a credible alternative is admittedly lower than the hurdle an incumbent faces to prove to the electorate that he deserves a second term. But, the bar exists.

That’s why simply running on an “I’m not that guy” strategy isn’t likely going to be enough to get Romney into the White House. Yes, Bill Clinton’s main case in 1992 was that President George H.W. Bush was mishandling the economy. But, Clinton closed the deal only when he was able to sell the public on the notion that he had good – and better – ideas to improve things domestically. [Pols emphasis]

Republicans politicians up to and including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan have suggested in recent days that Romney needs to offer his own alternative, positive vision for the country – not simply run against the vision offered by President Obama.

We agree with “The Fix” here. This strategy can work if you are running for Congress — heck, a bunch of Tea Party Republicans got elected doing exactly this. But President is too big of an office in a time where there is more national coverage from blogs and other online sources.

A poll follows after the jump. What say you, Polsters?

Is Romney's "Rose Garden" Strategy a Good Idea?

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Rep. Steve King: Worst Endorsement Ever?

Republican Rep. Steve King is obviously so safe in his Iowa district that it doesn’t really matter what crazy crap comes out of his mouth — he’s going to get re-elected one way or the other. But that doesn’t mean that he’s a good guy to have on your list of endorsements.

You might recall in 2010 that Cory Gardner cancelled a fundraiser with King as the featured guest after King’s bizarre comments to the media that President Obama has a “default mechanism” that “favors the black person.” Then-gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo welcomed King for his own fundraiser, and Tancredo no doubt would be pleased with the kind of rhetoric that King spewed out recently.

According to Salon.com, King compared immigrants to, well, to dogs:

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, compared immigrants to dogs at a town hall meeting yesterday, telling constituents that the U.S. should pick only the best immigrants the way one chooses the “pick of the litter.”

King told the crowd in Pocahontas, Iowa, that he’s owned lots of bird dogs over the years and advised, “You want a good bird dog? You want one that’s going to be aggressive? Pick the one that’s the friskiest…not the one that’s over there sleeping in the corner.”

King suggested lazy immigrants should be avoided as well. “You get the pick of the litter and you got yourself a pretty good bird dog. Well, we’ve got the pick of every donor civilization on the planet,” King said. “We’ve got the vigor from the planet to come to America.”

So what’s that have to do with Colorado politics? Well, King recently endorsed Mitt Romney for President, which is probably helpful with certain Tea Party constituents but might not be as useful with everyone else — including undecided Colorado voters who hear about these comments through an aggressive Obama campaign.

It Bains Before it Pours

POLS NOTE: *Yeah, we know the title is cheesy, but would you rather see another “Bain of His Existence” pun?

Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been taking some hard shots (again) from his time as CEO at Bain Capital, and information is now leaking out about how Colorado was negatively impacted by Bain’s business model.

You might recall that prominent Republicans were growing concerned in January that the Bain Capital attacks – coming from GOP Presidential contenders Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry — could severely damage Romney in the General Election. From The Hill on Jan. 11:

Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) warned that Republican candidates “ought not cannibalize” themselves and denounced a commercial funded by a pro-Gingrich political action committee that has been critical of Romney’s record at Bain…

…Rush Limbaugh, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Michelle Malkin and the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal are among the other figures on the right to have lambasted the attacks as going too far.

Republicans were acutely aware of the harm that these attacks will cause Romney, and Democrats certainly aren’t going to pull any punches as the Bain stuff gets more state-specific. Here in Colorado, two of the emerging Bain connections involve AMF Bowling and Alliance Entertainment – deals that led to both job losses and bankruptcies.

AMF Bowling

In 1998 AMF closed its Colorado manufacturing plant in Golden, and 40-45 employees lost their jobs. Two years earlier Bain Capital had invested $22 million in AMF as part of a leveraged buyout. As the Baltimore Sun reported in October 2008:

AMF Bowling Inc., the world’s largest operator of bowling centers, plans to close a Colorado plant and fire 40 to 45 employees to cut costs as Asia’s economic turmoil reduces its revenue.  AMF said it will move its AMF Century bowling-lane making and supplies business from Golden, Colo., and combine it with its main plant in Richmond, Va. AMF Century will keep five to 10 managers from the plant, which has 50 employees.

Just a few years later, in 2001, AMF filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. You don’t need a Ouija board to see how this is going to be played out in TV ads: Bain Capital invests in AMF, Colorado jobs are lost, and AMF soon goes bankrupt.

Alliance Entertainment

The other Colorado connection that has emerged is about Alliance Entertainment. Bain invested in Alliance in 1995 and doubled its investment after just six months. By 1997 Bain held a 7.35% stake in Alliance, the same year that the company closed facilities in Denver, Connecticut, California, New Jersey and Dallas as part of a “consolidation plan.” Alliance Entertainment acknowledged that 851 people lost their jobs. You can probably guess what happened next…in July 1997, Alliance filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

These stories aren’t quite as jarring as some of the others that are circulating, such as this note from today’s Tampa Bay Times about Bain seeking millions of dollars in tax breaks for creating jobs in Puerto Rico – just before closing the Florida facilities and putting 850 people out of work (Bain, meanwhile, walked away with an 800 percent return on its “investment,” a cool $242 million). But the severity of each individual story is less important than the overall narrative that is being spun: Coloradans lost jobs so Bain Capital, and Romney, could make more money.

The more examples that pop up around the country, the more that this storyline will stick in the minds of voters – all of which makes it much harder for Romney to campaign as the better “business” candidate.

Which Is Your Favorite Bain Pun?

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Hyperbole or Holy Crap? Whither Romney in Michigan

The national press is all aflutter amid a potential Mitt Romney loss in today’s Michigan GOP Presidential primary. Romney did well in Michigan in 2008, but he’s struggling to keep ahead of a surging Rick Santorum. From MSNBC:

Romney had been expected to easily win here until Santorum upset the former Massachusetts governor in a trio of nominating contests earlier this month. If momentum carries Santorum to victory on Tuesday in Michigan, it would put Romney’s campaign – long considered the favorite among Republicans seeking the nomination – on precarious political footing.

So what say you, Polsters? If Romney were to lose Michigan, what does it mean? Poll after the jump…

What Does it Mean if Romney Loses Michigan?

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Mitt Romney vs. Ron Burgundy

We get a lot of email here at Colorado Pols, and a lot of videos that different groups or campaigns have made to promote one thing or another. We don’t pass along most of what we receive, because most of it isn’t all that interesting in general.

This short video from AFSCME about Mitt Romney made the cut because, well, it’s pretty damn funny.

Not Mormon? No Problem. You will be Once you Die…Like it or Not.

Nobel Prize winner Eli Wiesel reacted with disgust and outrage today in response to a recent article by the Huffington Post that claimed,

“according to a formerly-Mormon researcher, Helen Radkey, some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had submitted Wiesel’s name to a restricted genealogy website as “ready” for posthumous proxy baptism.”

Former Mormon researcher Radkey discovered last week that both Wiesel’s father, Chlomo Wiesel, who died during the Holocaust in Buchenwald’s crematorium, as well as Wiesel’s grandfather, had been “proposed” for a proxy baptism, as had Eli Wiesel. This practice has been carried on for nearly 100 years, since 1918 when the President of the Church had the genius idea that the entire human race should be posthumously baptized into the Mormon Church.

Nice thought on behalf of the Mormons but a couple of little problems with their latest magnanimous gesture towards Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel (a gesture they are now blatantly denying)–Wiesel isn’t dead yet and he isn’t remotely interested in himself or anyone in his family being posthumously baptized into the Mormon faith.

When asked for comment, Eli Wiesel vehemently objected,

“I think it’s scandalous. Not only objectionable, it’s scandalous.”

Worse, the ongoing practice is in direct violation of a 1995 agreement forged between the Mormon church and outraged Jewish leaders to discontinue the practice–an agreement that was promptly and conveniently ignored for another 15 years. The practice continued until 2010 when the Church finally agreed to at least cease and desist from proxy baptisms for Holocaust victims.

The Mormon Church has conducted posthumous proxy baptisms on over 650,000 Holocaust victims.

Worse,

Radkey also discovered last month in this restricted Mormon database that church members in Utah, Arizona and Idaho had baptized the long-dead parents of famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, whose mother was murdered in the Belzec death camp.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the practice in no uncertain terms, declaring,

“Throughout his life, Simon Wiesenthal especially revered his beloved mother who was deported and murdered at Belzec death camp in 1942. Such actions make a mockery of the many meetings with the top leadership of the Mormon Church dating back to 1995 that focused on the unwanted and unwarranted posthumous baptisms of Jewish Victims of the Nazi Holocaust.”

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in an interview with The Daily Beast, admitted he personally performed posthumous proxy baptisms in the past.

When asked by NEWSWEEK if he has done baptisms for the dead–in which Mormons find the names of dead people of all faiths and baptize them, as an LDS spokesperson says, to “open the door” to the highest heaven–he looked slightly startled and answered, “I have in my life, but I haven’t recently.”

Huffington Post contacted Romney’s campaign spokeswoman Gail Gitcho for comment on this breaking story.

Instead of an official reply from the campaign, in a rather large oopsie moment, Gitcho accidentally sent the HuffPost’s reporter an internal email suggesting the campaign ignore the request for comment on this story.

Good thinking since ignoring an issue always makes it immediately go away, doncha know, and particularly a story with the gravitas that Eli Wiesel and the Simon Wiesenthal Center bring to the subject of the Holocaust.

Can I just go on the record now and publicly state that I do not wish to be posthumously baptized into the Mormon faith after my eventual demise? I realize, based on the evidence of the last 100 years, that my request will be completely ignored but it’s worth a shot, none the less.  

Friday Jams Fest (Special Dedication Edition)

I dedicate this Friday’s Jam Fest to Mitt Romney in a fitting tribute to his primary run thus far.

Losing Two out of Three Primary Races Ain’t Bad, Mitts. They want you. They need you. But there ain’t no way they are ever gonna love you…

ArapaGOP, this one’s for you, baby.

Cheer up, Mittsy. Look on the bright side. You won New Hampshire, you pay a lower tax rate than I do, you’re über rich, you speak French and you have great hair. Party on, my man.  

qb GE

Stop! You’re “Trashing Capitalism!”

Our friends at the Washington Post report:

Both former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have argued that Romney destroyed jobs and lives at the venture firm Bain Capital by buying up and then shuttering struggling companies. A super PAC supporting Gingrich is airing ads in South Carolina attacking Romney’s record, using footage drawn from a 30-minute documentary called “King of Bain.”

The ad uses the same argument Romney has used on the campaign trail – that Bain helped Staples, the Sports Authority and Steel Dynamics create jobs.

“We expected the Obama administration to put free markets on trial, but as the Wall Street Journal said, ‘Mr. Romney’s GOP opponents are embarrassing themselves by taking the Obama line,'” the narrator concludes.

Allison Sherry at the Denver paper reports that GOP Rep. Cory Gardner joined yesterday in the pushback against attacks on Mitt Romney’s “corporate raider” record at Bain Capital, imploring Republicans running against Romney to refrain from such nasty Democrat-style “class warfare” (although Romney himself has done just as much to push that narrative). Newt Gingrich, for his part, has answered that he’s not disparaging capitalism so much, but heartless predatory outfits like Bain Capital that give capitalism a bad name.

No, says Gardner, that’s disparaging capitalism.

It’s an interesting pickle the Republican presidential challengers have gotten themselves into, having found a line of attack against the frontrunner that resonates, but with the side effect of upsetting key philosophical “free-market” assumptions among conservatives. They can’t take it back. Add that to the fact that these are probably futile attacks on the likely Republican nominee, and segue perfectly into President Barack Obama’s message, and you can easily see why player Republicans like Gardner suddenly realized that this had all gone much too far.

But so nobody accuses us of being unfair, Romney’s response ad follows too.

Romney Wants Wealthy Voters…Everyone Else, Not So Much

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney had a strange interview on NBC yesterday in which he went out of his way to say that people who complain about the so-called one-percenters are just doing it out of envy.

As The Washington Post explains:

Romney was twice given a chance to nod in the direction of saying that concerns about these problems have at least some legitimacy to them, that they are about something more than mere envy or class warfare, and that they are deserving of a public debate. And this is the answer he gave.

At a time when polls show rising public anxiety about these problems and what they mean for the country’s future – and at a time when Dems are preparing to run a campaign focused on economic unfairness and lack of Wall Street accountability while painting Romney as the candidate of the one percent – this seems like a pretty revealing and important moment.

There’s no question that Romney is personally tone-deaf to the problems of anyone who isn’t in the top 1%, but we’re continually amazed that he always makes sure to make that crystal clear.  

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Sealing the Nomination Early Is Not Ideal for Romney

Polling results continue to indicate that Mitt Romney should win the New Hampshire Primary tomorrow, which would put him in position to likely wrap up the Republican nomination for President should he win in South Carolina on January 21.

Putting aside whether or not Romney can win in South Carolina, it’s worth wondering whether or not it would be good for Romney and Republicans if he were to seal the deal so early in the process. As “The Fix” explains:

Regardless of whether Romney could handle a short primary season, a longer one is likely to help more. Although more primaries mean more money spent and more time expended on a fight within one party, it also means scads of news media attention – the press would much rather cover an active race than one in which the ultimate vote won’t come for nine months or more – and the chance to run a series of real campaigns in states that will be competitive in the general election.

In practical terms, Romney and his team don’t care when they win the nomination – as long as they do win it. But a look at recent presidential history suggests that a quick victory may provide short-term gain in exchange for long-term political pain.

“It’s like sitting your starters in football,” Matt Bennett, who was a Clinton administration official, said of a short primary. “The rest may feel good and prevent injury, but it doesn’t steel you for the championship.” (Ask the 2009 Colts or John Kerry).

We don’t normally subscribe to the idea that Primaries are good for candidates. Heated primaries in Congressional or Senate races are often more harmful than good because local media no longer has the size and capability to really provide serious coverage; the winning candidate gets all the downside of a tough Primary (negative ads, etc.) without the benefit of significant earned media coverage.

The race for President is the exception to that rule, in our minds, because a protracted primary fight really does generate tons of free press. If Romney wraps up the nomination by February, Republicans no longer will get the lion’s share of the political coverage because the media will immediately turn its attention to the matchup with President Obama. We don’t disagree that Romney just wants the nomination however he can get it, but the best-case scenario for he and his party would be a few more months with the spotlight to themselves.

What Do You Think of a Long Presidential Primary?

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Who Will Win the New Hampshire Primary?

Iowa is already a distant memory, and New Hampshire is just around the corner. With the nation’s first Primary on Tuesday, we want to know what you think.

Click to vote after the jump. As always, we’re interested in what you think will happen — not what you want to happen or who you might support.

Who Will Win the New Hampshire Primary?

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