"Tell me if you've heard this one," says Michael Brendan Dougherty at The Atlantic: "Mitt Romney walks into an Ohio phone bank then shoots himself in the face." On Tuesday, the GOP presidential hopeful visited a Republican call center in Ohio where activists were drumming up support for a deeply unpopular ballot measure (Issue 2). If passed on Nov. 8, the measure would ratify sweeping anti-public union measures (like tough restrictions on collective bargaining) championed by Gov. John Kasich (R) and other conservatives. But in one of those "incredible moments in politics," says CNN's Peter Hamby, Romney refused to endorse the measure while visiting the call center. "I am not speaking about the particular ballot measure," which "I am not terribly familiar with," he said when pressed. "But I certainly support the efforts of the governor to reign in the scale of government" and "the Republican Party's efforts here." Conservatives are furious. Did Romney mess up?
Romney blew it, big time: It would be bad for any top-tier Republican to throw Kasich's unions law under the bus, says Erick Erickson at RedState. But for a shameless shape-shifter like Romney to do so — and in front of activists trying to save the measure, no less — it's "a huge freaking deal." This is exactly why conservatives don't trust Romney. And it's not even good politics: "Typically, when a politician stands for nothing except his own election, he winds up not getting elected."
"'An incredible moment in politics.' Mitt Romney won't go there."
And he chalked up another flip-flop, too: This was "an absolutely mystifying hedge" because Romney "explicitly endorsed" the anti-union ballot measure in June, says Jed Lewison at Daily Kos. His excuse about not knowing the details is either a lie or an acknowledgement that he endorsed something he didn't understand. He would have been better off just saying nothing and letting his presence at the call center speak for itself.
"Conservatives slam Mitt Romney for hedging..."
Actually, this might just work in Romney's favor: The former Massachusetts governor's "finely tuned sensors for the prevailing political breeze" will likely help him in the long run, says Alec MacGillis at The New Republic. The ballot measure is doomed, and any "candidate who is already thinking ahead to a general election in which Republicans dearly hope to reclaim Ohio" would be wary of alienating the cops, firefighters, and teachers who would be hurt by this measure. As long as this doesn't cost him the GOP nomination, "Romney was smart to back away."
"Mitt on Ohio's union fight: A flip too far?"