Will Mitt regroup in time to placate fellow Republicans?
Romney under fire from conservatives
By Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington
Prominent conservatives are grumbling that the Romney campaign may not have what it takes to defeat Barack Obama, and are not being shy about it.
First there was Rupert Murdoch, who took to the Twittersphere over the weekend to offer his unsolicited advice to Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Met Romney last week. Tough O [Obama] Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros. Doubtful, tweeted the head of News Corp.
Then Jack Welch, the one-time chief of General Electric, chimed in. Hope Mitt Romney is listening to Murdoch advice on campaign staff ... playing in league with Chicago pols ... No room for amateurs.
Some conservatives have been enraged by an apparent tactical decision by the Romney campaign this week to break ranks with senior Republicans on Capitol Hill over how to respond to the Supreme Courts healthcare decision.
Eric Fehrnstrom, a top Romney adviser, said in a television appearance that a financial fee at the heart of Mr Obamas healthcare legislation was a penalty, not a tax. The distinction has implications for Republicans trying to hammer the White House for imposing a tax on the middle class. This line of attack arose from Chief Justice John Roberts tiebreaking decision last week that found the law to be constitutional because the fee was a tax, not a penalty.
After Thursdays [Supreme Court] decision, many of us took solace in the fact that Obama would have to defend his tax record, said Ben Howe, a conservative blogger on RedState.com. [The Romney campaign] seem to have destroyed the only glimmer of optimism we were able to pull out of that judicial tragedy.
Eric Bolling, a host on Fox, was equally exasperated, saying about Mr Fehrnstrom: Do us all a favour take a vacation, come back November 7 after the election, because its a tax.
In March, Mr Fehrnstrom inadvertently underscored accusations that his candidate was a serial flip-flopper by saying that his candidate could pivot on policy issues in the lead-up to the November election like an Etch-A-Sketch.
A Romney spokesperson said: Governor Romney respects Rupert Murdoch and also respects his team and has confidence in them.
While one Republican strategist told the Financial Times that such sniping is cyclical and expected in politics, other Washington insiders are quietly expressing concern about the state of the race so far.
Mr Romneys team have proven to be stellar fundraisers and have not had any major missteps. But the campaign has failed so far to offer a compelling response to blistering attacks from the Obama camp on Mr Romneys business record.
A new advertisement released the day before the July 4 holiday by the Obama campaign accuses Mr Romney of investing in companies that were pioneers in outsourcing US jobs to low-wage countries.
Mr Romney is not the only one to suffer hits from his own side. Mr Obamas campaign came under scrutiny in May after it launched an advertisement critical of Mr Romneys tenure at Bain Capital.
Cory Booker, the Democratic mayor of Newark, New Jersey, called the attacks nauseating. Those criticisms have died down for the time being after recent polls signalled that the Bain ads were effective.
There are rhythms and cycles in campaigns, the Obama campaign went through a down time, now the Romney campaigns turn has come, said Charlie Cook, a political analyst.