Romney, newly “converted” conservative, appoints himself arbiter of what qualifies as Republican as he turns viciously negative in Iowa; also: in the understatement of the election cycle, Romney admits that he lacks communication skills

“CARROLL, Iowa — Seemingly resigned to his new role as an Iowa underdog, Mitt Romney said Friday that he would use the remaining three weeks before the caucuses to draw bright-line differences with Mike Huckabee,” writes Jonathan Martin in a politico.com post titled Fading Romney targets Huckabee

But he also acknowledged that the time to do so is growing short and that he could not completely control his own political fate.

Asked in an interview with Politico if he could stop his precipitous drop in the polls and come back by Jan. 3, Romney matter-of-factly replied: “Don’t know. I don’t know.”

After arguing that he only hoped to finish in the top three, the former Massachusetts governor and onetime Iowa front-runner seemed resigned and said that he was “not going to lose sleep over it.”

“Part of this is just the nature of the calendar, how much time people have to get to know [Huckabee’s] record,” Romney said.

Romney’s rhetoric can partially be chalked up to expectation-lowering. But he also plainly recognizes the difficulties posed by Huckabee, a candidate who has risen largely on the strength of his dazzling and down-home communications skills. Natural gifts, Romney admitted, he lacks …

… That he’s lost a lead in this state to a candidate who has done considerably less—and whose organization remains almost skeletal here — is not lost on Romney. He conceded that while he expected an eventual head-to-head competitor in Iowa, he “didn’t think it would be Mike Huckabee.”

To revive his Iowa campaign and perhaps his White House hopes, Romney made clear he would offer Republican caucus-goers a fuller picture of Huckabee than they have previously had of the affable and engaging Baptist minister … etc.

After spending millions on the ground in Iowa Romney is reduced to spinning expectations—risibly, pathetically, Romney tries to claim that expectations are on Gov. Huckabee and that Huckabee must win big to prevail—when precisely the opposite is the case. After all the many months of super-expensive early advertising and organization on the ground, if Romney returns anything less than a total blow-out in Iowa, he loses, and loses huge.

“HUMBOLDT, Iowa (AP) – Mitt Romney accused Republican presidential rival Mike Huckabee of ‘running from the wrong party’ for criticizing President Bush’s foreign policy as an ‘arrogant bunker mentality,'” writes Jim Kuhnhenn, an Associated Press writer of unusual insight in an article titled Romney: Huckabee Critique Un-Republican

Romney defended Bush against Huckabee’s charge, which the former Arkansas governor leveled in the January-February issue of the respected journal Foreign Affairs.

“I can’t believe he’d say that,” Romney said to a gathering of about 100 supporters in a restaurant here. “I had to look again—did this come from Barack Obama or from Hillary Clinton? Did it come from John Edwards? No, it was Governor Huckabee.”

Romney has been aggressively criticizing Huckabee, stressing differences over immigration and economic policy in hopes of recapturing a lead he had enjoyed in Iowa for most of the year. Huckabee’s Foreign Affairs article, made public Friday, offered another line of attack.

“I’m the last person to say that this administration is subject to an arrogant, bunker mentality that is counterproductive here and abroad,” he said. “The truth of the matter is this president has kept us safe these past six years and that has not been easy to do.”

Romney takes a stand on an issue? But wait:

Still, Romney carefully stressed that he believed the administration had engaged in missteps during the war in Iraq and said his defense of Bush did not mean he would follow the president’s current policy to the letter.

“We were under-prepared and under-planned and understaffed,” he said of the war following the fall of Saddam Hussein. “There is no question we weren’t perfectly managed.”

So Romney concurs with Huckabee?—we really were under-prepared, under-staffed etc.? Question: Can Romney clear his throat without flip-flopping on a crucial issue?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

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