The anyone-but-Romney folks, which include about 80 percent of Republicans outside the state of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and GOP state central committees, have suffered from the fatal defect of having too many candidates in the race who clearly aren’t Mitt Romney.
After the New Hampshire primary, that will likely change as several candidates probably will do poorly enough in NH to at least give them pause about continuing the contest.
In the meantime, also-rans, and also-also-rans Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman are targeting their fire on Romney, hitting him on his vulture capitalism at Bain Capital, his lack of military service and his inability to get re-elected as governor.
Even more troubling to the Romney campaign should be the news that anti-Romneys not only have a message, but now have a great deal of money to get that message out.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Sheldon Adleson, a wealthy Las Vegas casino owner who was born in Boston, has donated $5 million to a pro-Gingrich PAC called Winning the Future, with the intention of attacking Romney on his Wall Street banking ties.
Winning the Future has made a 27 minute documentary detailing Romney’s time at the head of Bain Capital, a vulture capital group that made money by buying distressed companies. The turnaround of such companies usually requires mass employee lay-offs, cramdowns of existing investors and other distasteful actions that will likely contradict Romney’s official campaign bio: Mitt Romney, All-American.
From the Wall Street Journal:
The pro-Gingrich Super PAC, called Winning the Future, plans to make the film available on the Internet this week, while also using extracts from it for short TV ads in South Carolina, whose primary is Jan. 21.
“While Mitt Romney cloaks himself in terms like conservative and free-market, this film is testimony that he is anything but,” said Rick Tyler, a former Gingrich spokesman who is now an adviser to Winning the Future.
“What Romney was doing was not traditional free-market capitalism but a deliberate, predatory, corporate mugging,” said Mr. Tyler.
I’ve been privy to a great deal of polling and focus group research that leads me to believe that GOP, Democrat and independent voters won’t be very enthusiastic about a candidate who fired employees and crammed-down investors, no matter how the story is dressed up.
Being a good investor, Americans seem to think, doesn’t necessarily make for being a good public servant. That feeling has likely been aided by Solynda, MF Global, TARP, Soros, Buffet, GE, etc. Voters think for the good of the country, Wall Street and Washington ought to be separated- now more than ever.
Previously, Romney mocked Gingrich complaints about a pro-Romney PAC which aired negative ads about Gingrich.
But in typical Romney fashion, Mitt’s been of several minds regarding PAC participation in political campaigns.
According to Politico Romney opposed PACs and favored campaign finance limits that were a part of McCain-Feingold. “By 2007, though, he was promising to ‘get rid of the entire’ McCain-Feingold law.”
This election cycle, Romney has fully embraced PACs
The run-up to the Iowa caucuses was the most visceral demonstration of the new power of outside groups, with super PACs spending nearly $10 million on the presidential race, mostly on broadcast ads in Iowa and other early primary states, including New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. That figure increases almost every day, with super PACs primed to spend millions more by the month’s end.
The pro-Romney Restore Our Future super PAC accounted for $4 million of that roughly $10 million, almost all of which went toward tough ads that stalled and then reversed a surge that briefly catapulted Gingrich to the top of most national polls.
Expect it to get even more visceral as the anti-Romney crowd starts going after the front-runner now that primaries start to matter.
Neither Newt nor Santorum are wilting violets. The attacks on Mitt will leave him marked up. Thus far Romney has largely gotten by as other candidates tried to vault to the top on the positive virtue of not being Mitt Romney.
Going forward, look for the not-Romneys to better define what being Mitt Romney actually means- provided Mitt actually stands for the same things today that he did yesterday.
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