Mitt Romney sought to use the coveted endorsement of Jeb Bush on Wednesday to amplify his call for Republicans to rally behind his candidacy and get on with the mission of ousting President Obama….
…But if the endorsement held the potential to further choke off the oxygen to Mr. Santorum’s insurgent candidacy, the Romney campaign inadvertently gave Mr. Santorum a new supply when a senior adviser went on CNN and seemed to suggest that Mr. Romney’s conservative positions in the primary season could change like an Etch A Sketch drawing.
“I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign,” Eric Fehrnstrom, a longtime adviser to Mr. Romney, said in response to a question about pivoting to a matchup with Mr. Obama and appealing to moderate swing voters. “Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”
OK, fine. I realize the Santorum and Gingrich campaigns are desperate, and will say any damn fool thing in a vain attempt to bolster their fading relevance, but why is the Times endorsing such foolishness?
And it is foolish. One thing Political Science has shown us very clearly is that candidates run towards their party’s ideological base during primaries and run towards the center in general elections. Every candidate has the “do over” moment, usually on television at the moment of their nomination acceptance speech, where they stop focusing on the base. We all know this. Its a truism of American politics.
How can acknowledging a truism be a “gaffe”? The short answer is, it can’t. The more cynical among us might speculate on the motives of the Times in portraying this unremarkable statement the way they are. For example, they may be panicked
at the idea of the GOP coalescing around Romney at this early date – a date far earlier than the Democrats managed in 2008 I might add – so this is their feeble attempt to keep the contest going a little longer. Who knows.
The way it looks, however, is that the Times is simply ignorant of the most basic parameters of American politics.
Sadly, that sounds just as plausible.