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    If Romney doesn’t confront Newt face-to-face, he’s Tim Pawlenty

    If Romney doesn’t confront Newt face-to-face, he’s Tim Pawlenty

    Tim Pawlenty was the candidate who was going to be the not-Romney candidate conservatives could rally around.

    A successful relatively conservative Governor of a blue state, someone who had managed well, had campaign organization, and could bridge the gap between the Tea Party and establishment wings of the Republican Party.

    While I didn’t endorse Pawlenty, I was favorably inclined.

    Pawlenty came out tough, going after Mitt Romney over what Pawlenty dubbed “Obamneycare”:

    When it came to punching out at Romney from a distance Pawlenty was good. But at the first debate at which the two were on stage together, Pawlenty wimped out, failing to confront Romney mano-a-mano over the Obamneycare attack:

    The inability to confront Romney in person ended Pawlenty’s chance of getting the nomination. Even Pawlenty admitted the mistake.

    Fast forward.  Various Romney supporters in the blogosphere and Washington media have ramped up their attacks on Newt, but without much success since they are preaching to their own pro-Romney choirs.

    The Romney campaign recognizes that with Newt surging and leading in many polls and drawing overflow crowds at every campaign stop, the Romney campaign itself needs to unload on Newt.  But rather than having Romney do it himself, the campaign has devised an attack plan based on the use of surrogates like Chris Christie to go after Newt.

    This is consistent with the Romney campaign’s cloistering of Romney, keeping him off Sunday shows and even off Fox News’ Center Seat.  Romney’s complaints about Bret Baier’s questioning of him simply elevated the impression that Romney is unwilling to fight for himself by himself.

    Newt, by contrast, does not have to go after Romney.  Newt’s campaign theme since the start has been not to attack others.  Whether by masterful design or dumb luck, Newt has boxed his competitors into having to go on the attack.

    Attacks on Newt by Romney surrogates are not going to cut it.  Chris Christie declined to run despite being wooed as the best hope for a not-Romney nominee.  Christie can do his tough guy routine all he wants, but it just draws a sharp contrast with Romney’s passive stance.

    Romney needs to go after Newt himself at the next debate.  Mike Huckabee’s candidate forum Saturday night is the first opportunity, although because the candidates will not be on stage at the same time a face-to-face confrontation will not be possible.  Nonetheless, Romney has a national stage with which to take on Newt himself, and Newt will have a chance to respond.

    The most important opportunities for Romney will be at the December 10 Des Moines Register / ABC Newt News Debate and December 15 Iowa Republican Party / Fox News Debate.  The candidates will be on stage together.

    Ten to 15 days seems like an eternity in this election cycle, so who knows where things will stand by mid-December.  But if the Newt surge has not faded, Romney needs to man up and confront Newt on stage, face-to-face, without equivocating or backpedaling.  And he needs to land punches, not just throw them.

    If Romney does not effectively confront Newt on stage in Iowa at the debates later this month, Romney will be Tim Pawlenty and the entire nation will know it.


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    I knew it. Jennifer Rubin began to signal today that she would support Obama (or maybe no one, though I doubt her ego could sit out anything) if Gingrich was the nominee. She said, quote, that he “would be an even worse chief executive than Obama.”

    That statement shows, one might say, “even worse judgment than Obama.”

    This is one BIG reason why Romney had and has a stench for conservatives. It always appeared that the mission he and he followers were on was not the one we were on. Romney was in it for…who knows?…and his trumpeters like Rubin for… I don’t know, the need for a savior? The whole quixotic crusade seems like an army fighting a holy war without any cause at all. They’re just doing it to do it. I really don’t get it.

    How odd, anyway, that the Tea Party has gotten all the grief for being naive purists from the Rubins of the world, but have in fact shown much willingness to compromise and accept a flawed heretic on many issues – such as Newt – while the purported “realists” support their white knight like fanatics: “Romney or NOTHING…wah wah wah!”

    Absolutely pathetic. But the irony is cool – the more holy the war on behalf of Romney becomes, the more voters dig in against him, meaning that all of the shrieking, biased, disingenuous raves of JR only help knock her One down to the floor. And that is absolutely delicious.

      javau in reply to Ronin. | December 2, 2011 at 10:01 am

      very good points. you say you dont get it. idont either but wed have to think like they do but thats very difficult to do. and youre right there is an element of spite going against our betters like jr

    …at the first debate at which the two were on stage together, Pawlenty wimped out, failing to confront Romney…

    It sounded to me as though Pawlenty avoided responding to the question for the simple reason that he did not have the answer, talking points, at hand.

    workingclass artist | December 2, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Gingrich came off as smug in the Tapper interview.

    Reminded me of the fit he had when Clinton put him in the back of Airforce 1.

    All someone has to do is ask him how he can convince voters he won’t quit in a public snit like he quit the speakership & I think it will be Ron Paul who brings that up.

    Americans don’t elect quitters.

    MaggotAtBroadAndWall | December 2, 2011 at 11:07 am

    >> Des Moines Register / ABC Newt Debate <<

    Not sure if the "Newt" in the hyperlink in the post is a clever typo; an inadvertant typo; or a Freudian slip. But it really will be the Newt Debate.

    Count me in the group who has stopped reading JR. She was a good read before her WaPo gig. And she was a good read at WaPo until the primary campaigns. I just have no desire to read a "conservative" pundit whose goal is to tear down every other Republican so that a squish like Romney is the last man standing. The only reason why I'll ever read her again is if someone I do read like LI links to her.

    Henry Hawkins | December 2, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Even Dr. Chuck (Krauthammer) came out with a combination hit piece/mash note on Gingrich/Romney today. I like the good doctor, but it does my heart good to see the establishment GOP and old guard conservative punditry squirm so.

    I would respectfully ask Romney supporters to post the one greatest achievement, piece of legislation, action, etc., that you feel establishes Romney’s credentials as a conservative. Which one thing would you offer?

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