At a moment when the Romney-Ryan campaign is weathering a tough several weeks due to a series of unforced errors — including Romney’s statement criticizing Obama in the wake of last week’s attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East and the release on Monday of a video showing Romney appearing to write off the “47 percent” of Americans who pay zero income tax — Kimball’s advice might seem counterintuitive.
But if the New Hampshire crowd’s standing ovation for Kimball’s suggestion was anything to go by, take the gloves off — and continue to make remarks that rally the GOP base — is precisely what supporters want the Romney-Ryan ticket to do.
“The country is thirsting for this, believe me,” Kimball, a businessman who chairs the Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC, told the cheering crowd at McConnell Community Center. “All of the people in here are thirsting for this in the Live Free or Die State, and all the prior military men and active-duty folks are thirsting for this.”
He added: “You’ve got six or seven weeks. We know you can do it. We know we have it in us, and we have to have the two of you in office, there’s no ifs, ands or buts about it.”
Several attendees at Tuesday’s town hall meeting expressed agreement with Romney’s “47 percent” remark. Others said they had no opinion on the statement. But none expressed the kind of criticism of the remark that has been prevalent in national media coverage in the nearly 24 hours since the Romney fundraiser video became public.
That would suggest that for all the backlash among pundits for the campaign’s recent missteps, Romney’s statements on the Middle East demonstrations and those who pay no income tax could help him energize members of the GOP base.
Might Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, and his running mate, then, take Kimball’s advice and double down on the heated rhetoric?
There have been signs that they already are. Romney last week followed up his criticism of the Obama administration’s response to the attacks in Libya and Egypt with an even more critical statement the next day.
And at Tuesday’s town hall, Ryan appeared to tread carefully between appealing to the many tea party supporters in the crowd and not carrying his criticism of Obama out of bounds.
One woman in the crowd introduced herself as a registered independent who “wasn’t too sure about the Romney ticket” but decided to back Romney and Ryan because “I decided that I want Obama out.” She cited the Supreme Court’s ruling on the national health-care law and told Ryan, “I was again shocked and disillusioned, thinking, ‘Are we going to turn into a socialistic country?’ I’m terrified. I really am.”