GOP Tees up Romney for Bloodbath with Obama
With New Hampshire in the rear view mirror and the GOP candidates blazing ahead to South Carolina, the torrent of attacks on Romney's capitalist credentials have begun to slow. After Rick Perry lambasted Romney as a 'vulture capitalist' and a pro-Gingrich super PAC snapped up $3.4million in advertising for the upcoming primary, Rush Limbaugh rushed to Romney's defense. Indeed there is a growing backlash among conservatives over the attacks on the front-runner's record with Bain Capital.
In fighting back against these attacks the GOP establishment (including the Wall Street Journal and Rick Santorum) is tacitly acknowledging the damage this barrage could do to the GOP brand. Much like congressional republicans were boxed into a corner on taxes with the recent payroll tax cut debate, the attacks on Romney's record as a businessman dovetails perfectly into Obama's reelection strategy.
The flurry of attacks prompted a clumsy response from Romney who gaffed about fearing pinkslips and remarked "I like being able to fire people...". Of course he was referring to his preference to be able to choose his healthcare provider but American politics is all about the soundbite so contextual or not, these words will haunt Mitt Romney for the rest of the campaign. It's true this early blood-letting may inoculate him to a certain extent on the Bain issue, but his gaffes are a gift to the Obama team who are already gearing up to contrast the vulture capitalist with a middle class defender.
It's almost too perfect how Romney's business background and Bain baggage seem to compliment the democratic strategy of painting the GOP as defenders-of-the-rich fat cats who care more about profits than people. As conservatives come to this realization and Romney solidifies his lead, we will naturally see the source of these attacks shift from republicans to democrats.
The effect of this heated intra-party warfare will be to deliver Obama an opponent who has largely been defined by his own party (and himself to an extent) as the candidate of Wall Street. Of course much will happen between now and November but the way things are shaping up it may end up being the best year for democrats since 2008.