|Don’t worry about me. I’m filthy rich.|
When campaigns start to get into trouble, everyone begins blaming everyone else. It’s standard practice. Hired political consultants live and die based on their reputations, and having a hand in losing a major campaign is never helpful on the old resume. Better to say early that if only things had been done your way, so-and-so would have won.
Politico reported recently about how Romney’s RNC speech got bungled and there are new stories about how the campaign has now decided to shift gears at this late date to include other issues beyond the economy, like social conservative chestnuts and foreign policy. And conservative pundits are starting to see the blood in the water too, already offering reasons that Romney might not win.
As for tensions within the Romney campaign, The New York Times writes this:
Talk of infighting within the Romney headquarters in Boston has been percolating for months, but the report in Politico drew new attention to it and raised questions about Mr. Romney’s management of the campaign, which includes advisers who have been with him since his first run for Massachusetts governor, since he entered presidential politics, and others like Mr. Stevens and his partner Russ Schriefer, who have become still more prominent this campaign season.
While the same story suggested it does not appear to be Romney’s style to dismiss advisors, these kinds of stories can’t be good.
Still, as First Read points out, when the going gets tough, advisors and consultants start pointing fingers. Referring to the Politico piece on the RNC speech debacle, they conclude with this observation:
But what is surprising is that such an article is coming so soon, before the debates and before this race is truly decided. But the Politico piece is more than a story about Stevens and other Romney officials; it’s a story about Mitt Romney. How could someone who has campaigned on his managerial experience, including running a billion-dollar enterprise — in Politico’s telling — make something as basic as writing a convention acceptance speech seem so chaotic? As the article even quips, the campaign structure has become so unwieldy that it badly needs a consultant from Bain & Co. to fix things. Bottom line: This kind of article doesn’t get written about winning campaigns. Then again, this race isn’t over. But oh, what a bad narrative it feeds at the start of this week.
No, it’s not over, but it’s starting to feel like the end is near.
(Cross-posted at Lippmann’s Ghost.)