[…] “Advisers to Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney said they believed that Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, was already weakened before Iowa and was now even more vulnerable,” write Adam Nagourney and Carl Hulse for the NYT in an article titled McCain May Benefit From Huckabee’s Jolt to G.O.P.

Evidence of that could be seen in a furious exchange of attack advertisements between the two men Friday.

Complicating Mr. Romney’s life even more, Mr. Huckabee’s campaign manager, Ed Rollins, suggested he was entering something of a temporary alliance of interest with Mr. McCain against Mr. Romney. Mr. Rollins said Mr. Huckabee would be using the next several days to present what he said would be an unfavorable comparison of their records as governor.

“We’re going to see if we can’t take Romney out,” Mr. Rollins said. “We like John. Nobody likes Romney” […]

We long ago predicted that other candidates would concert their efforts against Romney.

Romney bravely—or unwittingly—faces the gathering storm, er, we mean swarm

We evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy here:

In show of solidarity and support. Gov. Huckabee defends Sen. McCain against Romney’s false, unfair, and highly personal attacks—also: how the concerted efforts of the McCain-Huckabee axis gets more for a more minimal investement

Romney’s new theme post-Iowa?—change, a theme Romney steals from Barack Obama’s Iowa message. Romney’s message post-Iowa? Romney is an agent of change; McCain is an agent of the status quo. Only here is the problem for Romney: once again Romney will advance a message that requires audiences to

(a) interpret facts as their opposites [Romney himself has praised Sen. McCain as an agent of change]

-and-

(b) construe events not on their face, but according to a tormented casuistry [Romney has spent a year depicting himself as an agent of continuity and social conservative orthodoxy]

Evidence? Nagourney and Hulse provide it:

[…] Mr. McCain may prove to be an elusive target, at least in this state.

Mr. Romney began seeking on Friday night to portray Mr. McCain as a Washington insider, a criticism that seemed to be intended to strip away from him independent voters who were critical to his victory in 2000. (Independent voters here are permitted to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary).

Several Republicans suggested that strategy might be difficult to pull off. “They are going to try to make him the Washington insider,” said Sara Taylor, a former White House political director. “He spent 10 years as the iconic guy in Washington fighting the status quo; so that is going to be hard” […]

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

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