the “religion is not Romney’s problem” theme, and how senior journalists are already writing post-mortems on the Romney campaign—conclusion: Romney has lost control of the message in advance of “the speech” (ii)

“WASHINGTON – No, this is not another piece about Mitt Romney and his religion,” writes Chuck Todd, the Political Director of NBC News himself, in an article titled Romney’s Crunch Time

His speech on Thursday will be a turning point for the campaign, but not because religion is the candidate’s biggest hurdle.

In fact, his faith may be the least of Romney’s problems.

The premise of Romney’s speech on religion tomorrow is that religion is Romney’s problem. But a counter-message has developed, the “religion is not Romney’s problem” theme elaborated here by Todd. Other examples:

Back to Todd:

Because the chattering press class and political elite got it so wrong with Howard Dean four years ago, his name is invoked all too often. It is used as an example of why folks shouldn’t take Clinton’s or Giuliani’s national poll lead so seriously. Or why no one should assume Romney’s or Obama’s financial resources and early state gains are guarantees of future success …

… Plan B
It’s not an exaggeration to say that every major candidate is at a cross roads, but Romney is a special case. More than any other major candidate, his path to the nomination is tied to an early state strategy. Even Clinton and Obama seem to be attempting to come up with a Plan B if they don’t sweep in the first two states.

So what is Romney’s Plan B? Lose Iowa and win New Hampshire? Well, then he can live to campaign another day. Michigan comes a week later and it’s a state he should do well in.

But lose both Iowa and New Hampshire? Suddenly his chances plummet.

That’s why Dean isn’t the analogy folks should use if Romney’s campaign doesn’t succeed. For Romney, the dubious comparative could be Phil Gramm …

… This leads me to write one of the more cliched pieces of advice political backseat drivers offer up: Romney needs to figure out how to be Romney again.

Thursday’s speech on faith is one of the moments that the Romney camp hopes serves as the beginning of the turnaround. But if religion were the only issue Romney had to deal with, he’d be a more formidable frontrunner.

Right now, no campaign has struggled more with finding its center. The guy who had the best shot at becoming the “change” candidate inside the Republican Party morphed into someone who is trying to assure primary voters he’ll be no different than any other Republican nominee before him

The emphases are ours, all ours.

Remarks:

Todd links Team Romney to the ill-fated Gramm campaign, and argues that Romney has no “plan b.”

Conclusion: the Romney bubble—bubble as in market bubble—has burst. Even senior journalists are already writing Romney’s post-mortems and speculating on the meaning of Romney’s departure from the race. And note how Todd summarily rejects Romney’s premise—the premise that religion is Romney’s problem—to harp upon the familiar string of Romney’s authenticity problem.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

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  1. 1 The Political News You Need to Know » the “religion is not Romney’s problem” theme, and how senior journalists are already writing post-mortems on the Romney campaign-conclusion: Romney has lost control of the message in advance of

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  2. 2 the “religion is not Romney’s problem” theme, and how senior …

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