Is Mitt Romney Blowing it Against Barack Obama?

A Wall Street Journal editorial accuses Romney of squandering campaign advantages.


On Thursday the Wall Street Journal published an editorial highly critical of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign against Barack Obama, saying the Republican is squandering opportunities to effectively campaign against the president. The article particularly criticized the Romney campaign's assertion that under the Affordable Care Act, Americans will have to pay a penalty, not a tax, for failing to obtain healthcare.

The Supreme Court last week upheld Obama's healthcare law, and by declaring that uninsured people will have to pay a "tax," opened up an opportunity for Romney to accuse Obama of raising taxes on the middle class. Republicans have been calling it "the largest tax increase in history," but a Romney adviser confirmed on MSNBC that "you shouldn't call the tax penalty a tax, you should call it a penalty or a fee or a fine[.]"

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

Eric Fehrnstrom went on to criticize the Obama campaign for being unclear about whether or not it is a penalty or a tax, but these arguments were completely overshadowed by his admission that the Romney campaign does not, in fact, consider the penalty to be a tax. The Journal wrote:

For conservative optimists who think Mr. Fehrnstrom misspoke or is merely dense, his tax absolution gift to Mr. Obama was confirmed by campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul, who tried the same lame jujitsu spin. In any event, Mr. Fehrnstrom is part of the Boston coterie who are closest to Mr. Romney, and he wouldn't say such a thing without the candidate's approval.

Romney enacted a similar healthcare law with an individual mandate while he was governor of Massachusetts, but has vowed to repeal Obama's law if he were to be elected president.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]

The Wall Street Journal also points out that campaigning on the economy is Romney's best chance at beating Obama, but he must share his policies to create jobs, rather than just blaming Obama for the slumping economy:

The main daily message from the campaign is that "Obama isn't working." Thanks, guys, but Americans already know that. What they want to hear from the challenger is some understanding of why the President's policies aren't working and how Mr. Romney's policies will do better.

The struggling economy is Obama's weakest link in his quest for re-election in the fall, as job creation has been slow and unemployment numbers have spiked. While Romney has been attacking Obama on the economy, the president has been working to cast Romney as an out-of-touch rich businessman too busy jet skiing on vacation to be able to relate to every day voters. Romney has built his campaign around his business record, arguing that his experience as an executive lends itself to effectively creating jobs for Americans. His campaign could struggle if he is unable to convince voters he can create jobs, and if he can't keep the campaign dialogue focused on Obama's economic failings.

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