Mistake Or Masterstroke?
Put me down in the "it's a big mistake" camp. The speech should have been given at the very beginning of the primary season, or after Romney won the nomination; it doesn't make sense to give it in response to Mike Huckabee's rise in the polls. Huckabee is vulnerable on all sorts of issues, and Romney has the money and the infrastructure to make sure that every GOP primary voter in America - let alone Iowa and South Carolina - knows all about the tax increases and the ethics complaints and the softness on illegal immigration and all the rest of it. Going after Huckabee on these issues probably wouldn't prevent the Arkansas governor from consolidating his current level of support, but the right line of attack should be able to stall his momentum in states like New Hampshire and Michigan and South Carolina, where Romney is well-positioned even if he loses Iowa.So here's the question for our readers, is the speech a mistake or a sage political move? Why?
But instead of making the conversation about issues where Huckabee is vulnerable and Romney isn't, the Romney campaign has guaranteed that for the next two weeks at least and probably beyond, the media conversation will be about, well, Mormonism. If there were more time before the actual voting begins, that might not be the worst thing in the world; they could get the wave of coverage out of the way, inoculate themselves to some extent, and then shift gears and start hammering Huckabee on taxes and immigration and so forth. But there isn't time: Christmas is coming, there's a very narrow window in which to define Mike Huckabee as a Mexican-loving crypto-liberal, and the Romney campaign has just ensured that everyone will be talking about the Urim and the Thummim instead of the Arkansas gas tax. Unless Romney gives the best speech in the history of speeches, I just don't see how that helps him win - in Iowa, New Hampshire, or anywhere.