Now even Republican 'allies' turn on Mitt Romney

Senior conservatives condemn campaign as 'incompetent' and 'deeply cynical'

The limping Mitt Romney campaign was yesterday on notice from some of its own that it had better pick itself up quickly after a string of flubs and stumbles if it wants to avoid losing a presidential contest that by all normal indicators – such as the rotten economy – it should be on its way to winning.

Trying to do just that, Romney HQ launched an effort to turn around the disaster of the past two days – the leaked video of their candidate disparaging Americans who depend on government benefits (almost half the nation) – by painting Barack Obama as coddler-in-chief and first defender of redistribution of wealth by government.

But quelling the rumbles of disgruntlement in the Republican ranks, which on its own threatens to inflict further damage, may not be easy. It was being expressed variously last night by pundits normally loyal to the cause as well as by party operatives who are worrying now not just about the presidency, but also about how the cold winds from Mr Romney could chill the campaigns of Republicans running for Congress.

"It's time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one," Peggy Noonan, the conservative columnist for The Wall Street Journal, wrote bluntly. "It's not big, it's not brave, it's not thoughtfully tackling great issues. It's always been too small for the moment." She went on: "An intervention is in order… Mitt, this isn't working."

The causes of the dismay are varied. They include second-guessing the Romney campaign for putting too few public rallies on his schedule and too many private fundraising events. Worse is the astonishment at the secret video released earlier this week by Mother Jones magazine, which saw Mr Romney writing off the 47 per cent of Americans who don't pay federal income tax as already in Mr Obama's camp. Addressing a donors' dinner in May he called them "victims" and said it was his job "not to worry about those people".

Mark McKinnon, a campaign strategist for John McCain in 2008, wrote on the Daily Beast website yesterday that it "was a moment that certainly revealed something about him. But not what I was hoping for. Just the opposite. It reveals a deeply cynical man, who sees the country as completely divided, as two completely different sets of people, and who would likely govern in a way that would only further divide us."

Party insiders are now banking on the three presidential debates, the first in Denver on 3 October, as almost the last opportunities for Mr Romney to better distinguish himself from the incumbent and win wavering voters to his side. Also to their advantage will be the money bomb that they and outside Super-Pacs are now preparing to drop on the President, notably in the nine or 10 key battleground states.

Yesterday the Republicans distributed a video seeking to besmirch Mr Obama for defending redistribution of wealth, which for most conservatives is akin to socialism. The video includes an audio recording from an appearance by Mr Obama in 1998 when he was a state senator in Illinois. "I actually believe in some redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody's got a shot," he is heard to say. Whether independent voters can be persuaded redistribution of wealth is so terrible a thing remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the Democrats were already seizing the opportunity to use Mr Romney's words about the 47 per cent at the donors' dinner to hurt him. "One thing I've learned as president is that you represent the entire country," Mr Obama said on The Late Show with David Letterman in reference.

"Romney seems to have contempt not just for the Democrats who oppose him, but for tens of millions who intend to vote for him," wrote William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard. Scott Brown, the Republican senator struggling to hold onto his seat in Massachusetts, moved to disown the top of his party's ticket. "That's not the way I view the world," he said of Mr Romney's observation. "As someone who grew up in tough circumstances, I know that being on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in."

Not everyone is willing yet to say game over for Mr Romney. Indeed while a Wall Street Journal poll released on Tuesday showed him down 45 to 50 per cent against Mr Obama, an Associated Press survey published yesterday suggested the two men are still statistically tied. Both polls, however, were taken before the secret donors' tape debacle.

How Carter's grandson had a role in video

It may be remembered as the tape that fixed the result of the 2012 election. For certain, it has hijacked the narrative for these few days in mid-September. How did all this happen?

The recorder was set on a table behind some crystalware, angled to catch Mitt Romney as he answered questions at a dinner for Fat Cat donors in a private home in Florida in May.

By who, is a mystery, but we know that a grandson of Jimmy Carter, James Carter IV, found segments of the recording. He thought Mother Jones might be interested and offered to liaise between the tape's author and David Corn, chief reporter at the magazine. When the latter began releasing portions on Monday, Mr Carter saw the impact and told his granddad what he'd been up to. "James: This is extraordinary," the former President responded. "Congratulations! Papa."

David Usborne

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Goalkeeping howler allows Man City to scrap a draw – but Premier League title is Liverpool's to lose
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
scienceTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
News
Ethical matters: pupils during a philosophy lesson
educationTaunton School's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Senior Infrastructure Consultant

£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...

Public Sector Audit - Bristol

£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal