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U.S. Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is silhouetted as he boards his campaign plane in Cleveland, Ohio, September 14, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: ELECTIONS POLITICS)
Romney campaign already planning how to whine off into the sunset.
You know a campaign is in trouble when it's only September, and it's already trying to figure out whom to blame when the ticket loses in November.

But that, claims a devastating new Politico article, is exactly what's happening in Romneyland, "based on accounts from Romney aides, advisers and friends, most of whom refused to speak on the record because they were recounting private discussions and offering direct criticism of the candidate and his staff."

And with "friends" like these ...

“You design a campaign to reinforce the guy that you’ve got,” said a longtime Romney friend. “The campaign has utterly failed to switch from a primary mind-set to a general-election mind-set, and did not come up with a compelling, policy-backed argument for credible change.”
Yeah, not actually have a compelling argument for why people should vote for Mitt Romney is part of the problem. And the Republican National Convention, which was supposed to help re-re-reintroduce Romney to the country, was a total disaster. Various planned highlights were canceled because of the abridged schedule; Romney's speech was rewritten so many times that key points—like, say, mentioning the troops—were left out; and of course, there was the greatest moment of all: Clint Eastwood losing a debate to an empty chair.  
[Top strategist Stuart] Stevens and his team loved the idea of the tough-talking American icon greeting the millions of viewers tuning in to the main event. But Eastwood, unlike every other speaker at the tightly controlled convention, had free rein to say or do whatever he wanted without the campaign’s approval. Eastwood has said just minutes before going live, he was handed a chair to sit on, which he promptly decided should become a prop in his speech.

Many in the Romney high command watched in fury. Later, a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that for many voters — especially independents and casual viewers, exactly the ones convention organizers hoped to reach — the Eastwood skit, not Romney’s speech, was the highlight of the convention.

Great thinking there, huh? Well, now those anonymous Romney friends and staffers are already starting to point the finger at Stuart Stevens, and it's not just because of the empty chair fiasco:
The GOP convention failed to generate momentum or excitement for Romney — a potentially fatal setback for the struggling campaign. Before that, Romney’s criticism of Olympics organizers just after he landed in London set the tone for a snake-bitten foreign tour that some top campaign officials had argued against taking. Last week, Romney diluted his repeal-“Obamacare” message by saying on“Meet the Press” that he would keep part of the plan. Then Romney’s incendiary late-night statement after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya led many conservative allies to say he had squandered credibility as a potential commander in chief.
In other words, the Romney campaign is a mess, and as long as they don't have to give their names, they all know it. It's been one "fatal setback for the struggling campaign" after another, and there's no indication at all that will change. The only real question is, after Romney slinks back to any one of his many vacation homes in defeat, which one of his staffers will be the first to write the tell-all book of just how bad the campaign really was all along.

Originally posted to Kaili Joy Gray on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 08:27 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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