The news yesterday that Mitt Romney has rejected ads attacking Reverend Jeremiah Wright is alarming. Isn’t this the losing strategy John McCain followed in 2008? Romney claims he is taking the high road. So did McCain; all the way to the loser’s platform on election night.
What’s he thinking? Is he thinking good cop/bad cop? That strategy might be OK if he is winking and allows the private PAC to go after Wright. George W. Bush needed the Swift Boat men in his race against John Kerry. He never endorsed them, but he didn’t condemn them either. The Swift Boat ads made a difference.
Certainly Obama will play good cop/bad cop with Romney’s Mormon beliefs. If Romney fears an attack on his religion, his strategy of not attacking Wright will not be reciprocated. I don’t see Obama directly criticizing the Church of the Latter Day Saints, but he will spur surrogates to say outrageous things privately and disdain them publicly. The media will point to this as Obama’s praiseworthy ethics.
In the primary Mitt was not one to hold back on attacking his fellow Republicans. He came down hard, and often unfairly, on all of them. His campaign smacked of dirty tricks. At least voters could hope that he would extend this campaign to Obama. But already he has buckled. This is not a good sign.
I think many of us were looking for a candidate who would take it to Obama. This was reflected in the polls. Whenever any one did, he got a boost. Then, it seemed they got soft. The only one left standing was Mitt. Now we are stuck with him.
Romney had better draw a clear distinction between himself and the president. Voters don’t want someone who will retreat from the fray. Even Sean Hannity, who seemed from the start to favor Romney, criticized him for his disavowal of the Wright stuff. As Hannity is proving, Obama can be attacked for all of this with his own words and those of Wright. Wouldn’t this be the course to take?