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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam