The Romney Campaign So Far Is Very So-So, But Still…

Mitt Romney is not a great political candidate. He won against a weak field because the establishment backed him, much of the conservative media lined up behind him, and he had a huge money advantage. He’s not particularly charismatic, nor conservative; nor is he a man driven by any great principles. That’s why the complaints you’re starting to hear about him from the upper echelons of the conservative hierarchy are no great surprise.

Political analyst Bill Kristol on Sunday added to conservative criticism of Mitt Romney’s campaign, saying it was a troubling sign that Obama was still ahead in the polls despite a still weak economy.

“President Obama has had three disappointing months, but he’s holding his own,” said Kristol on Fox News Sunday, citing polls which show him even with or leading Romney despite a series of weak jobs reports. “If I were in the Romney campaign that would worry me.”

….Romney’s team has faced a barrage of criticisms from conservatives in the last week.

On Thursday, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal blasted the campaign as “politically dumb” for its response to the Supreme Court ruling upholding Obama’s healthcare reform law.

Senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said the candidate viewed the individual mandate as a penalty early last week, undercutting GOP attempts to characterize the health law as a massive tax increase.

But Fehrnstrom was contradicted by Romney days later, when the former Massachusetts governor said the mandate was a tax.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, CEO of NewsCorp., also criticized the Romney campaign in a tweet last week saying that Romney would lose the election unless “drops old friends from [his] team and hires some real pros.”

Kristol on Sunday acknowledged that many conservatives were “frustrated.”

“I think what a lot of people would like to see — a lot of people hope Mitt Romney wins the presidency in November, which I certainly do, is like to see him stand up and say I have a plan and I am going to aggressively address these problems and fix the economy,” he said.

“They’re very risk-averse, but being risk- averse can be risky,” he cautioned.

First of all, let me echo what William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection said,

We’re hitched to a horse, and the same people who are complaining are the ones who hitched us.

Next, let me note that Eric Fehrnstrom, who was also responsible for the mind-bendingly dumb “etch-a-sketch” comment during the primaries doesn’t belong anywhere near a TV camera.

It’s also worth pointing out that although Romney is soaking up money, he’s running a not particularly impressive, “risk-averse” campaign — but, what else would you expect?

All that being said, Obama is soaking up the money, too, but he’s also running a horrendous campaign. He’s destroying everything people liked about him in 2008, infuriating the great mass of Americans to make clumsy reaches towards segments of his base — and looking utterly incapable of handling the presidency in the meanwhile. Obama is making every excuse in the book to justify his poor performance and inability to do his job and unfortunately for him, it comes across exactly that way. Unless you’re going to vote for Barack Obama come hell or high water becase of his race or his ideology, there’s very little reason to want four more years of what we’ve seen in Obama’s first term.

Furthermore, the poll numbers look better for Mitt Romney than most people realize. At this point, it’s not so much about who’s winning in the head-to-head match-up as where Obama’s numbers are. Are they above or below 50%? When you look at polls of likely voters, as opposed to registered voters (which aren’t as accurate) and adults (which inevitably slant towards the Democrats by several points), Mitt is right where he needs to be right now not just in the key states Bush had to win in 2004, but in states like Michigan (16), Pennsylvania (20), Wisconsin (10), and Oregon (7). What that means is that the potential exists for Mitt to win a victory over Obama that is every bit as large as the one Obama achieved over McCain in 2008.

However, there is a big difference between what can be and what will be. Right now, we have two highly organized, well funded candidates that few people are enthusiastic about feeling each other out and neither one seems to be moving the needle much yet. That’s a bigger problem for the President than Romney because Obama is making some big moves that don’t seem to be doing him much political good (becoming pro-gay marriage, attempting to institute the DREAM ACT by dictate, refusing to pick up illegals in Arizona, etc.). When both candidates start unloading their massive campaign coffers and some of these swing states start moving out of reach for one side or the other, we’ll have a much better line on who’s likely to win. At this early stage of the race, it still appears to be anyone’s ball game, but Romney appears to be holding the stronger hand.

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