Friday, January 20, 2012

Romney Collapse: Precipitous Drop In The Polls A Prelude To Disaster

This passage in last night's debate illustrates Mitt Romney's collapse, I think, as well as any poll. The candidate is adrift, scared not just of his shadow — Newt Gingrich — but of his own words. When Romney opens a line of attack against Gingrich — the Reagan diary — he does so fearfully:
"Let's — let's — let me — let me say — let me say one — one of the things I find amusing is listening — is listening to how — how much credit is taken in Washington for what goes on on Main Street. I — I mean, Mr. Speaker, it was — it was — you talk about all the things you did with Ronald Reagan and — and — and the Reagan revolution and the jobs created during the Reagan years and so forth. I mean, I looked at the Reagan diary. You're mentioned once in Ronald Reagan's diary. And it's — and in the diary, he says you had an idea in a meeting of — of young congressmen, and it wasn't a very good idea, and he dismissed it. That — that's the entire mention. And — I mean, he mentions George Bush a hundred times. He even mentions my dad once. So I — I — I — there's a sense that Washington is pulling the strings in America."
Mittens paused 19 times in this brief soliloquy — 12 times before mentioning the diary. That's one scared candidate; scared of Newt Gingrich. It was Romney who used the kitchen heat metaphor. Now, it seems, he can't handle the heat from refusing to release his taxes — something he should have prepared for years before this. He does all right when scripted but is incapable of improvising against a vicious attack dog like Gingrich.

There is one other unspoken issue in a state as racist and xenophobic as South Carolina: Romney's father was born in Mexico. The media, including CNN's John King, who mentioned this, assumes the average voter knows this. I believe it came as an unpleasant surprise to many in that auditorium. Romney was clearly ill at ease. And suddenly one other dimension is added to his Mormon 'issue'. Mitt Romney, as a result, is in freefall, having dropped from 20, then 10 points ahead, to falling six points  behind Newt Gingrich today. The media talked of Rick Perry's endorsement of Gingrich, overlooking the much more important Sarah Palin endorsement which locked in much of the Tea Party vote behind Newt. Nationally, Gallup's polling director said of Romney's numbers: "Clearly things are collapsing."

As for Newt Gingrich, his time-tested tactic of attacking the so-called "liberal media" to deflect attention from himself is on steroids: Consider that Newt began by attacking Chris Wallace (FOX); then he lay into Maria Bartiromo (CNBC); next he put Juan Williams (FOX) in "his place"; and last night summoned up his open-marriage righteous indignation to lash out venomously at John King of CNN. Yikes. Members of the media who sign up to question the candidates at the Republican debates should be getting combat pay.

Bottom line: If Newt wins tomorrow, which seems almost — almost — a foregone conclusion, the Republican Party will be in a world of hurt. And the Democrats will be in an Apollo celebratory mood:

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