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Some Republicans still not sold on Mitt Romney’s campaign

at 06:00 AM ET, 07/18/2012

One in four self-identified Republicans has an unfavorable view of how Mitt Romney is running his campaign, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The poll represents the latest evidence of unease within some segments of the GOP about how the former Massachusetts governor is progressing in the 2012 race.


Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leaves a fundraiser that included Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., on Monday, July 16, 2012 in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Sixty-six percent of GOPers in the poll viewed the way Romney is running his campaign in a favorable light, while 24 percent viewed it unfavorably. Those numbers lagged behind how President Obama’s campaign is viewed among Democrats — 75 percent of whom regard his bid favorably.

There’s also an enthusiasm gap for Romney in the data. While 51 percent of liberal Democrats feel strongly favorably toward Obama’s campaign, just 31 percent of conservative Republicans feel the same about Romney’s bid.

The numbers come after several weeks of criticism of the Romney campaign that began with a tweet from News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch and has come to include lingering questions about the exact date of Romney’s departure from Bain Capital and his unwillingness to release more than two years of past tax returns.

And they suggest that unrest about how Romney is running is not simply limited to a few bold-faced named like Murdoch and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch.

To be clear, though, these numbers do not indicate that broad swaths of the Republican Party view the Romney campaign as having skidded off the tracks — or anything close to it. Rather, they point to the fact that, within a certain segment of the Republican Party, there is dissatisfaction about how the way Romney is campaigning.

In Romney’s defense, there will always be a certain group of partisans for whom second-guessing its nominee is a favorite pastime. (Remember how many backseat campaign managers the presidential bids of John Kerry and Al Gore spawned among Democratic partisans?)

And among independents, who almost certainly will decide the identity of the next president, there is little statistical difference between how the two campaigns are viewed. Forty-seven percent of independents regard Obama’s campaign favorably, while 46 percent view it unfavorably; for Romney it’s 41 percent favorable, 46 percent unfavorable.

What the Post-ABC numbers will do, however, is fuel a narrative that Romney has lost control of his campaign over the last few weeks. (Columnists Charlie Cook and Byron York both put forward that idea in separate pieces Tuesday.)

The Romney team has already taken steps to bolster its communications operation and insisted that any further changes will be by addition, not subtraction. The question now will be whether it can stick to that pledge amid the media maelstrom in which it currently finds itself.

Romney targets Obama’s ‘you didn’t build that’ quote: Romney’s campaign is trying to get back on offense, with the candidate on Tuesday hitting Obama for his recent comments on entrepreneurs.

Obama over the weekend said that business owners can’t do it totally by themselves. They need infrastructure, he argued.

“Somebody invested in roads and bridges,” Obama said. “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.”

Romney said the quote betrays Obama’s disdain for business owners and view of the role of government — namely, his support for more government.

“I find it extraordinary that a philosophy of that nature would be spoken by a President of the United States,” Romney said.

The message is hugely popular with the GOP base, and conservative blogs have been abuzz over it for a few days now.

Romney’s message, of course, got knocked off-track when Romney surrogate John Sununu mused on a conference call that Obama should ”learn how to be an American.” Sununu soon apologized.

Steelman gets reinforcements: Sarah Steelman’s Senate campaign got a triple dose of good news on Tuesday.

Just a day after the former Missouri state treasurer announced another set of lackluster fundraising numbers, a super PAC created to help her, Now or Never PAC, announced it had $450,000 to spend on her campaign as of the end of June. When combined with her $560,000 cash on hand, it means a respectable $1 million will be spent on her campaign before next month’s primary.

Meanwhile, Steelman got a momentum boost with an endorsement from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Steelman, who has often been compared to Palin, joins Indiana’s Richard Mourdock and Nebraska’s Deb Fischer in garnering Palin’s Senate endorsement. Both of those candidates won.

And lastly, the Democratic super PAC Majority PAC took the unusual step of running ads against businessman John Brunner in the GOP primary, perhaps hoping he won’t make it to the general election.

Brunner, a self-funder, appears to have asserted himself as the candidate to beat, and Rep. Todd Akin is also in the race. But Steelman shouldn’t be counted out.

Fixbits:

Forme congressional aide Richard Hudson and businessman Mark Meadows won the GOP runoffs for the seats held by Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) and retiring Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) on Tuesday. Both seats are top-tier GOP targets. Read all about it here.

Tim Pawlenty talks about being Romney’s potential vice president.

A WMUR-TV Granite State Poll shows Obama leading Romney 49 percent to 45 percent in New Hampshire.

Democratic-leaning automated pollster Public Policy Polling shows Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) leading former congresswoman Heather Wilson 48 percent to 43 percent in the open New Mexico Senate race.

Former Maine governor Angus King’s (I) Senate campaign is getting some big-name fundraising help from some top Democrats.

Rep. Martin Heinrich’s (D-N.M.) first Senate general election ad is a positive bio ad.

The Democratic Governors Association sends another $500,000 to help Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D).

Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna’s (R) gubernatorial campaign is on its heels for the moment, after a staffer’s Twitter feed was shown to include tweets that instructed Asian-Americans to “shut up and speak english.” The staffer has apologized, and McKenna has condemned the remarks.

Sheldon Adelson is threatening to sue the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for its claim that he has funded GOP groups with “Chinese prostitution money.” That charge has been deemed false by fact-checkers.

Former president Bill Clinton has endorsed former aide Andrei Cherny (D) in the race for Arizona’s new 9th district. As with many other races where Clinton has endorsed, his choice candidate faces someone who supported Obama over his wife in the 2008 Democratic primary. In this case, that’s former state representative Kyrsten Sinema.

The House Ethics Committee is extending its investigation into Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.).

A new poll conducted for Rep. Vern Buchanan’s (R-Fla.) congressional campaign shows him leading Democrat Keith Fitzgerald 54 percent to 32 percent. The poll is by GOP pollster Glen Bolger.

The DCCC has reserved time for Reps. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and John Barrow (D-Ga.), both who come from very tough districts for Democrats to hold.

It gets weirder: a Washington state congressional candidate calls on a super PAC funded by her mother to cease its attack ads.

Daily Kos Elections has a great chart of all the key second quarter House fundraising reports. Bookmark it now!

Must-reads:

Inside Romney’s Search for a Vice President” — Ashley Parker and Michael Barbaro, New York Times

Veepstakes: The fine line between safe and boring” — Lois Romano, Politico

Despite Cuomo’s Vow of Sunlight, a Bid to Keep Aides’ E-Mail in the Dark” — Thomas Kaplan, New York Times

 
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