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Posted at 05:39 PM ET, 08/18/2011

Romney shrewdly lays low while rivals say whacked out things

GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has settled on a rather low-key strategy of avoiding controversy, even as he allows his rivals to all discredit themselves with outlandish statements.

If the last 24 hours are any indication, there’s something to this approach. In a single day, almost all of his opponents have said something that has attracted negative national media attention and should be raising real concerns among GOP establishment figures about their fitness for the presidential campaign.

Consider the things his rivals have said over the last 24 hours or so.

Michele Bachmann fears the rise of the Soviet Union, which dissolved almost twenty years ago:

People are very concerned about that as well. But what people recognize is that there’s a fear that the United States is in an unstoppable decline. They see the rise of China, the rise of India, therise of the Soviet Union and our loss militarily going forward. And especially with this very bad debt ceiling bill, what we have done is given a favor to President Obama and the first thing he’ll whack is five hundred billion out of the military defense at a time when we’re fighting three wars. People recognize that

Rick Santorum says abortion and gay marriage caused the economic crisis:

If you think that we can be a society that kills our own, and that disregards the family and the important role it plays, and doesn’t teach moral values and the important role of faith in the public square, and then expect people to be good, decent and moral when they behave economically, if you look at the root cause of the economic problems that we’re dealing with on Wall Street and Main Street I might add, from 2008, they were huge moral failings. And you can’t say that we’re gonna take morality out of the public square, morality out of our schools, God out of our schools, and then expect people to behave decently in a country that requires, capitalism requires some strong modicum of moral consciousness if it’s gonna be successful

Rick Perry has no grasp of basic biology or history:

How old do I think the Earth is? I don’t have any idea. I think it’s pretty old. It goes back a long long ways. I’m not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely how long ago the Earth is. I hear your mom was asking about evolution. It’s a theory that’s out there and it’s got some gaps in it. In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution in our programs.

Incidentally, as Steve Benen points out, teaching creationism in public school is unconstitutional.

This was just today. Just about the only Republican presidential candidate who hasn’t said anything ridiculous in the last 24 hours is Mitt Romney. It’s a low bar to clear, but for a candidate who obviously has his eyes on winning the general election and not just the Republican primary, it’s also something of a vindication. And, hey, it might work even in the primary: If Romney can stand by while his opponents implode — without getting drawn into the whackiness himself — enough GOP primary voters just may decide he’s the last electable candidate standing.

By Adam Serwer  |  05:39 PM ET, 08/18/2011

 
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