When Romney gets rattled
Mitt Romney has just learned an age-old political truth about conducting a Rose Garden campaign. It really doesn’t work if you aren’t president. For months, as most of his rivals have been going flat out, Romney has run a tightly controlled campaign of strategically limited appearances and pronouncements. Now, with Newt Gingrich having caught the Tea Party trade winds, Romney is scrambling to chart a new course. He’s deploying surrogates to point out Gingrich’s shortcomings, taking more press questions, stepping up his own campaigning, and preparing to end a 21-month absence from the Sunday interview shows by sitting down with Fox News’ Chris Wallace for a December 18 show. Team Romney portrays that adjustment as a natural evolution, and the campaign high command as unruffled by the rise of Newt. Problem: The candidate himself has recently seemed both ruffled and riled, thereby undercutting the official narrative. The most discussed example is, of course, Romney’s tetchy, condescending tone during a recent sit-down with Bret Baier, also of Fox News. Before that, there was his heated exchange with Rick Perry during the Oct. 18 CNN debate.