Mitt Romney has been catching hell and Ann Romney doesn’t like it one bit. After coming to her husband’s defense on trashing 47 percent of the nation, she issued a stern warning to her fellow Republicans yesterday. “Stop it! This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring,” she said.
Given the brutal month Mitt has had, Ann’s frustration, even anger, is understandable. Running for president is hard. It’s not for the faint of heart. And it’s not for those who don’t want to their entire lives dissected and judged in real time before the world. But Romney only has himself to blame for the avalanche of criticism rolling his way.
For months, Republicans have been pleading with the former Massachusetts governor to get specific on his plans for the country. They have pleaded with him to combine his attacks on President Obama with a positive case for where he wants to take the country. Instead, Romney seems content to run a relatively content-free campaign. As if saying as little as possible would be enough to unseat a vulnerable incumbent at a time of high economic anxiety.
A slew of polls out this week show that it’s not.
Romney is losing the economic argument against Obama. He is failing to seal the deal in the swing states he needs to win the election. And he continues to lose the likeability contest by record margins. Folks just aren’t going to vote for someone, especially for president, they don’t personally like.
George Will argued rather persuasively yesterday that Romney should say, “I am not running to be your friend....” as part of a larger argument about competence. Unfortunately, how Romney has run his campaign would undercut that. Romney’s “personal” involvement in every aspect of his campaign is hurting his quest. It’s so irksome that conservative columnist Peggy Noonan demanded an “intervention” and called for a “new CEO.”
“The candidate can't run the show,” she writes today, distilling lessons learned watching and working with the legendary James A. Baker III. “He can't be the CEO of the campaign and be the candidate.” So true. Perhaps Mitt will listen to Ann on this one. “Stop it!” would be a good piece of advice for him to follow.