40 39 days out from the election and the knives are already out for Mitt Romney within his own party, even his own campaign. There are also people in the Republican party and base in full-blown CYA mode as to how Romney wound up being their nominee.
“Lousy candidate; highly qualified to be president,” said a top Romney official. “The candidate suit fits him unnaturally. He is naturally an executive.”
“He’s a great leader, but he’s not a great politician,” said a top member of Romney’s organization. “As much as we complain about politicians, we like a good politician. He doesn’t have the hand-on-the-shoulder thing. He’s not quick-witted. He’s an analytical, data-driven businessperson.”
“You have to know the room, and he doesn’t know the room,” said a top Republican in D.C. who has donated to Romney and wants him to win. “He’s missing the normal-guy gene.”
Like it or not, the money and opinion elites on the center-right own Romney’s failure from the perspective of the base—they need him to win. And the reality is that if Romney loses, it will have little if anything to do with Paul Ryan’s big ideas, tactical choices, or elite misgivings—and far more to do with the simple fact that Romney is still disliked by most voters.
The staggering irony is that those of us who did not want Romney are now the ones defending him to the hilt while the elitist jerks are distancing themselves from Romney as quickly as possible — both upset at what their media friends tell them is to come and upset that Mitt Romney might not actually listen to their sweet whispers as much as they originally presumed.
Activists would love to treat Romney’s candidacy as something that party elites foisted on them, but those elites were generally unenthusiastic about Romney this time as well. Romney prevailed this time in no small part because movement conservatives in 2008 helped make him a viable contender for the nomination. Many activists allowed themselves to be taken in four years ago, and now they’re stuck with the candidate they helped create. Romney’s candidacy this year is a monument to the conservative movement’s short-sightedness and lack of imagination, and naturally they want to deny their part in this.