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Here's what Mitt Romney's campaign has come down to: in order to win the GOP nomination, he's attacking Newt Gingrich for using the word "radical" to describe Paul Ryan's plan to end Medicare as we know it:

Setting aside the fact that Romney is trying to revive a seven-month old controversy, the thing that's most important about this ad is that it takes away whatever wiggle room Romney may have had with respect to his support for the Ryan plan—and that will have enormous implications for the general election should the Republican Party suffer the misfortune of nominating Mandate Mitt to the top of their ticket.

As Greg Sargent notes, Romney has in the past been squishy about his position on Ryan's repeal plan. But now that he's bet his campaign on Newt Gingrich's initial opposition to it, his aides are making it clear that Romney would have signed the Ryan plan into law, guaranteeing that there's no walking back on the Ryan plan without also flip-flopping on his criticism of Gingrich.

Romney could conceivably say that while he would sign the Ryan plan into law, he would prefer a different plan for Medicare ... but if he does that, what's the difference between his position and Newt Gingrich's? I guess he could argue that he's more polite in his disagreement with Ryan than Gingrich was, but (a) it's hard to imagine Republicans responding positively to a message of "Oh, I don't like Ryan's plan either, but I'm just nicer about it" and (b) Romney's already said he would sign the plan into law. So even if there is a different plan that he would prefer, I think it's fair to say he now owns Ryan's repeal plan.

Obviously, the key thing here is that Romney has bet his campaign on a radical right-wing plan that is popular among Republicans, but deeply unpopular in the rest of the country. So even if he gets the nomination, it's a huge gift for Democrats.

That all being said, I suspect the ad serves its purpose in going after Gingrich. To a Republican, it isn't merely about Gingrich's position on Ryan's plan, it's also about Gingrich's tendency to get himself in trouble by shooting from the hip.  But even if the ad does hurt Gingrich, it's not clear to me that Romney will directly benefit. If all the ad does is cause a little air to leak from Gingrich's campaign, Romney will probably be happy, even if he doesn't gain any ground—everything is relative, after all. But given that it's still a multiway field, Romney does risk driving down not just Gingrich's support, but his own as well.

In the short-term, that's the dynamic I'll be interested in: is Romney able to nuke Newt without nuking himself? Whether or not his gambit works, however, I think Romney has done himself great harm: even if he gets out of the primary, he's now got Ryan's plan hanging around his neck. And as we saw with Kathy Hochul's victory over Jane Corwin in NY26, that plan is a guaranteed loser.

7:53 AM PT: Important note—there's no "I approved this message" disclaimer in this video, which means it's not meant for broadcast. That doesn't change anything about Romney's embrace of Ryan's plan, but it does mean his goal his is to get earned media to pile on Gingrich, which presumably he hopes would limit the amount of blowback to his campaign.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Oh joy! (15+ / 0-)

    How wonderful that the wingnuts are making Ryan's Kill Medicare plan a litmus test for winning their support.  When even professional pols like Romney and Gingrich are trapped into hugging this porcupine, you know the party's gone off the deep end.  What's next, the healthful virtues of hemlock?

    When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

    by Dallasdoc on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:33:36 AM PST

  •  Mitt Romney is the only man on Earth who can (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, annieli, JeffW, TomP

    flip flop as fast as he sees his own shadow o_O

    "Rick Perry talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans." --- James Carville

    by LaurenMonica on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:36:45 AM PST

  •  Well yeah, it OUGHT to be a guaranteed loser . . . (6+ / 0-)

    But the corporate media insists on treating it as a sensible, veritably serious proposal, and furthermore they are fully committed to labeling any claim that it eliminates Medicare as a flat out lie. In this environment, there doesn't seem to be any craziness that won't get respect from Cokie and Wolf and the Washington Post.

    •  But it's going to take a shitload of (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, JeffW, TomP, Fury

      money and a long damned time to turn public opinion on this.  People like Medicare, especially those who have it, and those are a significant fraction of the GOP base.

      --

      Republicans chap my ass

      Me

      by Marc in KS on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:43:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Count on Mitt using Politifacts false claim it doe (0+ / 0-)

        s not abolish Medicare.  His hiding behind that 'non-partisan' authority will confuse this issue, if nothing else.  Kind of makes you wonder who paid off Politifact for that, doesn't it?

      •  Maybe so . . . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fury

        but they don't understand who is on their side. Remember "Keep your government hands off my Medicare?" Remember that the Republican congressional landslide in 2010 was produced in large part by scare ads claiming that the Democrats wanted to cut your Medicare benefits and the Republicans were protecting you against death panels.

        Believe me, up can be down and in can be out in this environment. That shit works.

    •  or the rubes. (0+ / 0-)

      I like these articles that point out the utter lunacy of the modern republican party, but let's just acknowledge something big 'n' stinky;
      None of this matters. The republican party as a whole should no longer exist. After the last decade, they have no shred of credibiilty in any arena, from foreign policy (9-11, Iraq, no Osama) to energy (drill BP, drill, oil goes from $40 bbl to $140 bbl in 5 yrs) to social issues (DADT gone, gay rights blossoming, stem cells, latinos becoming very Dem) to the economy (who was in charge for the Crash? who started the bailouts? who blew up the budget?).
      Come GE time, whatever Mitts says NOW will no longer be operative. Reality is what the plutocrats say it is, and the millions of obedient rubes will nod in agreement.
      Being a flip=flopper only matters in the primaries, or if you're a democrat.
      Mitt knows he can take any dirt-eating crazy-ass position he thinks he needs to now, and then completely disavow it and pretend he's always had the opposite position later.
      Cokie, Wolf, Politico et al certainly enable this, but ultimately, it's the legions of American voters that fail to throw up the poison, and drink it greedily.
      As a society, we f'in LOVE to be lied to.

      Obama's about face from three years of appeasement (of the g'dam republicans, not the scary Mooslims) to Candidate Obama 2.0 is damn near as cynical (though far less destructive and evil), and he's doing it with all the sincerity needed to get the donations flowing.

      Class war has consequences, and we are living them.

      by kamarvt on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 08:28:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The WaPost Swears GOP Will "Save" Medicare (0+ / 0-)

      Especially the guy who writes the "Fact Check" column

      There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

      by bernardpliers on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 10:37:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If the Repukes weren't so united in their (0+ / 0-)

    thinking, perhaps they would have something to attack each other with.  This leaves so much for Obama to use.

    Corporations aren't people; they're Republicans. Rev. Al Sharpton

    by HappyinNM on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:37:13 AM PST

  •  The god's honest truth (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marc in KS, wishingwell, drmah, JeffW, TomP, Fury
    The truth is that only thing that stands between Newt Gingrich and the 2012 GOP presidential nomination right now is Newt Gingrich.

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/...

    Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

    by Scarce on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:37:58 AM PST

  •  What is also shows (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cloudbustingkid, wishingwell, ddn

    is Gingrich's instincts are better than most of the GOP field.  My guess is he remembered the debate during the shutdown, and wanted to avoid a repeat.

    The dynamic here isn't obscure.  Romney is trying to get to Gingrich's right - but  I don't think he can succeed.

    Two things might work:
    1. Argue Gingrich shoots from the hip (as you suggest)
    2.  This means he is unelectable.

    The tendency in Iowa is for the last 10 days to center around electability.  This was surely the case in the 2004 Democratic fight, and that is really Romney's last hope this time.

    If I were him I would hope the attacks from other candidates take Gingrich down.  This was certainly Kerry's strategy in 2004.  

    The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

    by fladem on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:38:40 AM PST

  •   Funny comment I saw on Yahoo yesterday (6+ / 0-)

    that is very much descriptive of the situation:

       

    I sympathize with the "less than enthusiastic" Republican voters.

        You see, my mom passed away and left me 3 dogs. She had named them Romney, Gingrich, and Ron Paul.
        Romney is nuts... He incessantly humps the legs of everyone. No matter how often he is told to go away , there he is, humping our legs, like he is entitled to do that.
        Gingrich is an ugly dog, and over weight. He has soiled the carpet so many times that I've given up. He digs under the fence and has sex with the neighbors' dogs. It's funny, he seems to love skinny old geriatric dogs.
        The dog that mom named Ron Paul is a crazy little critter - he howls at the moon. This dog is ancient. The one cool thing about this silly old mutt is that he sneaks up on Romney and Gingrich and pees on them. That makes us laugh hysterically!!

    Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

    by DefendOurConstitution on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:38:49 AM PST

  •  Mitt strapped the dog to the roof. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, JeffW

    I guess grandma just gets left at the side of the road, with a thumb and a prayer.

    Courage is contagious. - Daniel Ellsberg

    by semiot on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:39:32 AM PST

  •  Okay, now this is just (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k8dd8d, wishingwell, JeffW

    stupid.  Doesn't his team read polls?  If he's trying to lose, this is one way to do it.

    More and more looking like the Grinch is going to be the nominee.

    Not, of course, that that's a bad thing.  He can't win any more than Romney can.

    --

    Republicans chap my ass

    Me

    by Marc in KS on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:41:33 AM PST

    •  couldn't agree more (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP

      the scary part is that some of that ad is criticizing Gingrich for not stepping in line with the rest of the Republicans.  I think that HELPS Gingrich in this case...

      I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

      by k8dd8d on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:45:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  'A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    Coronation'.......coming soon to a theater near you.

  •  Romney not only flipped (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skillet

    But he flopped, he trying to be something that he is not ,and never can be,trying to be wolf ,in sheeves clothing, his biggest job is trying to have   lots of right wing christian accept his Mormon faith , it do not bother democrats Harry Reid is  a Mormon,democrats embrace him as being a Mormon ,a daunting task he will have with some republican  

  •  Whichever candidate is nominated, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah, LaurenMonica

    ...by next November it's hard to believe that this little dustup will have any lingering effect on the enthusiasm of the typical Republican constituent--such as:

  •  Its so transparent. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    Base fundie voters will see right through it.  Its Gingrich or Paul now and I think the only way Newt blows it is if scandal erupts.

    Considering the baggage Ron Paul is the most electable of the Repug crop.

    RIP Mitt, we hardly knew ye.

  •  Romney has traded his flip-flops... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    ...for concrete platform sandals!

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:55:50 AM PST

    •  Left Behind When The Tide Went Out (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW

      Lonely flip-flops

      He flipped. He flopped. He flipped again. But his flip flops missed the tidal change in the GOP. Now he's stuck in the seaweed with the dead crabs and other crap.

      I'm from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

      by BobBlueMass on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 08:49:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Imagine Obama v. Gingrich (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW

    The lobotomization of the conservative electorate is complete if this is what we have to look forward to.

    Granted, Mittens is a moron but Newt is light years worse.

    Still, I LOVE the fact that Team Romney seems to be running scared.

    If I had the time, I'd parody the movie "Running Scared" and in place of Gregory Hines, Billy Crystal, and Jimmy Smits, you'd have Obama, Romney, and Gingrich.

    So much parody, so little time.

    Burn it the fuck down!

    by Lavocat on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:57:49 AM PST

  •  Deja Vu for Mitt Romney. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, TomP

    He's doing to Newt what he did to Huckabee. No matter what he does, he just can't WIN. Everyone else always has to lose.

  •  Mandate Mitt v. Mandate Obama? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    I'm not sure slamming Mitt for that godforsaken mandate shit is a good idea.

    NOW SHOWING
    Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
    Bipartisan Obama returns (Nov 7, 2012)

    by The Dead Man on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 08:02:04 AM PST

  •  That's Funny. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    harrije, Fury

    It's funny considering Paul Ryan's medicare disaster is why he isn't in the race right now. He said that he was not joining the race because of family reasons but come on. We all know Ryan's not in this race because of Medicare and him proposing to kill it.

  •  I posted this as a diary but it also belongs here: (0+ / 0-)

    I realize that New Hampshire is a pretty small state, with only around 1.3 million residents.

    Even so, this tidbit from a Politico article about how Newt Gingrich is causing Mitt's campaign to sweat was quite an eye-opener:

    Just since June, Romney’s New Hampshire campaign has made 230,000 calls and knocked on 26,000 doors, according to spokesman Ryan William. Romney has also picked up endorsements from Republican figures such as former Gov. John Sununu, former Sen. Judd Gregg and Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

    Let's read that again:

    Just since June, Romney’s New Hampshire campaign has made 230,000 calls and knocked on 26,000 doors

    26,000 doors in 5 months???

    That's an average of just 175 houses per day.

    If my math is correct, assuming the average canvasser knocks 15 doors per hour, works a 3 hour shift, and only works 1 shift a week, this suggests that Mitt Romney's Presidential Campaign has a whopping 30 people canvassing for him in the entire state of New Hampshire.

    And his spokesman is proud of this number?

    Just wondering...am I missing something here?

  •  Celebration!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    Yahoo! This is your celebration
    Yahoo! This is your celebration

    Celebrate good times, come on! (Let's celebrate)
    Celebrate good times, come on! (Let's celebrate)

    There's a party goin' on right here
    A celebration to last throughout the years
    So bring your good times, and your laughter too
    We gonna celebrate your party with you

    Come on now

    Celebration
    Let's all celebrate and have a good time
    Celebration
    We gonna celebrate and have a good time

    It's time to come together
    It's up to you, what's your pleasure

    Everyone around the world
    Come on!

    Yahoo! It's a celebration
    Yahoo!

  •  Can we have Bachmann back as front runner? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skillet

    She was so entertaining, yet short lived...fuckin' Perry with his sucking the oxygen out of her Ames Straw Poll victory.  Then again, having him get the attention for a couple of weeks wouldn't be bad either.

    How about this.  Perry and Bachmann both surge! Give them 30% each in Iowa next month, then have them tie for 2nd in New Hampshire (behind Gingrich) and share the lead in South Carolina and Nevada.  That's all I ask...and Florida...then I'm done.  Romney can have the northern states, California, New York and Texas...

    Somebody call Nate and ask him to predict all this...then it'll actually happen.

    Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 08:09:11 AM PST

  •  "Desperate" (0+ / 0-)

    I think it's interesting how quickly many of us here at DKos have adopted the theme of Mitt Romney as being "desperate."  I'm not sure that's the case, and I wonder if it doesn't represent a little wishful thinking on our part.  It's understandable -- Newt Gingrich presents a much more appealing opponent in the general election.  A Gingrich candidacy would all but assure President Obama's reelection.  But I don't think it's going to be.  I believe the Newtonian bubble is just that -- a bubble.  This is a man with a tremendous amount of baggage, an abrasive personality, and a history of self-destruction.  We can talk all we want about how evangelicals dislike Mormons (and they do), but they aren't particularly fond of Catholics, either, and when Newt's opponents start reminding them of how he defected from Southern Baptism to become a Catholic (in order to marry his third wife, no less), it's not going to sit well.  And that's not his only weakness.  He has little money (and a penchant for living large and running up huge campaign debts) and virtually no organization.  Snappy debate performances are great, but do they translate to votes on the ground?  Especially in a caucus state?  I'm not so sure.

    Mitt Romney, on the other hand, continues to raise money hand over fist (over ten times as much as Newt in the most recent campaign finance reports), and has the support of much of the party hierarchy and (perhaps most importantly) Wall Street.  Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I don't think it's a coincidence that no other top-flight candidates even threw their hats in the ring this year.  That's suspicious when you consider we have an incumbent president whose approval numbers have been in the toilet for a long time.  Almost as if people were discouraged from running.

    The next few weeks is going to be telling, as Newt's fellow Republicans open fire on him in a big way.  Will he survive the onslaught?  More interestingly, will the powers that be within his own party seek to bring him down?  I have my popcorn ready.

    "We must move forward, not backward, upward not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom." - Kodos

    by Jon Stafford on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 08:12:44 AM PST

  •  It's hard to fathom the logic here. (0+ / 0-)

    What is this - 1-dimensional checkers? Romney decides to pick up on some minor old slapshot from Gingrich and totally ignores the $1.6 million he took for lobbying for Fannie? WTF are they smoking over at Romney Central?.

  •  DNC ad shop should get to work... (0+ / 0-)

    It'd be really simple to create an ad that directly ties Romney to Ryan's plan, and what that plan would mean for seniors.

    You have multiple columnists (particularly Greg Sargent) who've pointed out that Romney is essentially endorsing Ryan's plan -- all of which you could quote. You have multiple outlets that have covered exactly what Ryan's plan would do to Medicare, as in turn it into a voucher program -- all of which you could quote.

    Throw a handful of those qoutes over stock footage of seniors, then end with: "The Romney-Ryan plan is so extreme, even the frontrunner in the Republican Presidential Primary calls it..." Cut to Newt saying it's social right-wing engineering.

    BAM.

    1) Ties Romney to Ryan's plan.
    2) Further toxifies Ryan's plan.
    3) Pokes Romney by calling Newt the frontrunner.
    4) Strokes Newt's ego by calling him the frontrunner.

  •  Sounds good. What I'm looking for in the GOP (0+ / 0-)

    2012 Presidential Nominating Process is maximum casualties.
    I know that sounds bad, but that's the way it is.

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