WASHINGTON — There is deep unease among Republicans, and no shortage of advice for Mitt Romney on how to right his campaign ship in the seven weeks remaining before the election. Some have called for a campaign staff shake-up. Others want Romney to be more visible on the campaign trail. They want more backbone, bigger ideas, and sharper ads.
“An intervention is in order,” wrote Peggy Noonan, a conservative Wall Street Journal columnist and former speechwriter for President Reagan.
But underlying many of Romney’s struggles is his longstanding penchant for saying things that redound against him. Whenever he is struggling, it is usually not the result of a staff error or something his political opponents have done, but because of something the candidate himself has said.
During his foreign trip, it was Romney who upset his hosts by questioning whether Britain was ready to host the Olympic Games. Last week, it was Romney who signed off on a late-night statement, deemed ill-timed by many, questioning President Obama’s leadership in the midst of an unfolding Middle East crisis — going even further out on a limb the next morning. And in the most recent troubles for his campaign, it is Romney’s blunt and dismissive comments in a private fund-raiser that are at the center of the controversy.
It is striking to see such struggles from a candidate who is so guarded, who is so often carefully scripted, and who seems constantly worried that he will make the type of verbal mistake that doomed his father’s 1968 presidential campaign (George Romney said he had been “brainwashed” by US officials about the war in Vietnam).
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