Yesterday Mitt Romney appeared with David “Howdy Doody” Gregory. Overall I thought that his performance was ok, but, at the risk of sounding like the One, that’s not good enough. It was a little flat and didn’t convey the sense of urgency that the state of our country demands.
In addition, I’m concerned that he may be making the mistake of trying to appeal to “moderates” and “independents” by hedging his bets on certain issues. Consider this exchange about Obamacare:
GREGORY: Well, let me ask you about a couple of specific areas. On healthcare, you say that you would rescind the president’s healthcare plan on day one. Does that mean that you’re prepared to say to Americans, young adults and those with pre-existing conditions, that they would no longer be guaranteed healthcare?
MR. ROMNEY: Well, of course not. I say we’re going to replace Obamacare. And I’m replacing it with my own plan. And, you know, even in Massachusetts where I was governor, our plan there deals with pre-existing conditions and with young people. Everybody…
GREGORY: So you’d keep that part of the federal plan?
MR. ROMNEY: Well, I’m not getting rid of all of healthcare reform. Of course, there are a number of things that I like in healthcare reform that I’m going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their– their family up to whatever age they might like. [emphasis mine] I also want individuals to be able to buy insurance, health insurance, on their own as opposed to only being able to get it on a tax advantage basis through their company.
Up to whatever age they might like? What’s that supposed to mean? Also, if people with pre-existing conditions are covered, what we have cannot, in any meaningful sense of the word, be called “insurance.”
The folks at The Corner reached out to the Romney campaign for clarification, which makes me feel slightly better about the substance; however, I am still concerned about the campaign. Another writer at The Corner, Yuval Levin, points out that what Romney said this morning on MTP is pretty much what he has said all along. That is true, but the problem is that we can’t go into the next 57 days (or any of the 57 states) having to make constant “clarifications.” The message has to be simple and clear, leaving no possibility for people to avoid connecting the inevitable dots. Do you want to continue what we’ve been doing for the last four years, giving a guy who was obviously not up to the job a do-over, or is it time to acknowledge the bad hiring decision and go another direction?
This is not the time to try to be “nuanced.”