TAMPA--Mitt Romney made a "deal with the devil" by siding with extreme elements in the GOP in order to win his party's presidential nomination and now those positions are hurting him among independents and other swing voters, says Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
"He's caught between a rock and a hard place," Wasserman Schultz told U.S. News Thursday. If he departs from his very conservative positions, he risks alienating his base on the political right, but if he stays with those positions, it hurts him among independents and other swing voters.
Among the "extreme" positions that are causing trouble for Romney, she said, are his support for slashing popular social programs such as aid to education, his endorsement of an overhaul of Medicare, his severe stand against illegal immigrants, and his conservative position on abortion rights.
Wasserman Schultz said the Republicans have run a "fact-free convention" in Tampa this week that has distorted President Barack Obama's record and was "disingenuous" about Romney's own policies. She said the Republicans, including GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, have given the false impression that President Obama wants to cut Medicare to help pay for his health care overhaul. She said the Republicans are also spreading the "lie" that Obama wants to end work requirements for welfare recipients, which she sees as an attempt to stir up animosity among white voters toward minorities on welfare.
"It's real disappointing how cynical they [the Republicans] are and how they are willing to say anything to get elected," Wasserman Schultz said.
She added that Republicans haven't added new information to make Romney more appealing. This is one of his biggest problems, according to the polls. President Obama remains personally popular even among many voters who do not like his policies and are disappointed with his record as president. Romney, by contrast, is not considered someone who understands the problems of everyday people and his favorability rating is low, according to the polls.
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Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.