In Iowa this past December, Mitt Romney successfully kneecapped Newt Gingrich with a barrage of negative and arguably inaccurate advertisements. Then after Newt rebounded in South Carolina, Romney engaged in an advertising campaign that Gingrich referred to as carpet bombing to annihilate Newt in Florida to the extent he has not yet recovered. Given these results, one might think that this is a winning strategy for Romney. But a closer look uncovers that this strategy has cost Mitt more than money, with every attack the Republican front-runner has seen his favorable ratings plummet. In a new survey, 54% of Republicans said they hold a favorable opinion of Romney, while 67% said the same in January. Among all Americans, 34% described the candidate as likable, down from 41% last month.
Romney is quickly creating a persona of a ruthless, vicious executive who will destroy those who would stand in his way through any means, honestly or if necessary, dishonestly. Now he has turned the big guns of the Romney machine on Rick Santorum, attacking him on his record on earmarks. In my opinion this is a huge mistake as this attack will cause Romney’s favorability rating to sink even lower and by targeting Santorum’s record on earmarks, he is inviting his opponents to counter attack Romney on his own horrid record on earmarks.
We have already highlighted Romney’s earmark abuse during the Salt Lake City Olympics here. Now we are learning how Governor Romney worked closely with the mostly Democrat congressional delegation from Massachusetts to secure federal earmarks.Under Romney’s leadership, Massachusetts sought tens of millions of dollars in earmarks for transportation projects. The AP has highlighted his record in a recent article.
A prime example was the $30 million his administration requested to renovate the historic Longfellow Bridge over the Charles River between Cambridge and Boston.
Romney’s transportation secretary, Daniel A. Grabauskas, asked a House committee to include the money in a transportation spending bill – the same earmark-packed bill that sparked public furor and became a symbol for Washington’s spending habits when Congress passed it in 2005.
Romney’s new attack on Santorum is ill-advised. First because this tactic is reducing his favorability ratings and hurting his chance to defeat Obama in November, and secondly because when it comes to earmarks, he is the proverbial stone-thrower who resides in a glass mansion.