From “In the end, it’s Mitt,” Mike Allen and Jonathan Martin and Jim VandeHei, Politico:
It isn’t the chair or the ho-hum convention. Or the leaked video. Or Stuart Stevens. Or the improving economy. Or media bias. Or distorted polls. Or the message. Or Mormonism.
With Republicans everywhere wondering what has happened to the Mitt Romney campaign, people who know the candidate personally and professionally offer a simple explanation: it’s the candidate himself.
Slowly and reluctantly, Republicans who love and work for Romney are concluding that for all his gifts as a leader, businessman and role model, he’s just not a good political candidate in this era.
It kills his admirers to say it because they know to be a far more generous and approachable man than people realize — far from the caricature of him being awkward or distant — and they feel certain he would be a very good president.
Campaign officials, in the end, think likability is the least of his issues. The much bigger one is this sense that Romney is not comfortable in his skin, at least the conservative, no-compromise skin he had to put on to win the nomination.
His past willingness to change or shade his views for apparent political advantage resulted, over time, in one of his biggest political vulnerabilities. One close confidant said Romney sees the process like buying a company from a reluctant seller: Just do and say what you need to do to get the deal done, and then when it’s done, do what you know actually needs to be done to make the company a success. Emphasis added.
And there, I think, is the bottom line why Mitt is losing. The political consensus in this country supports programs like Social Security and Medicare. Yes, we know they have to be fixed, but we don’t want their problems to be used as an excuse to get rid of them. So you have a guy who’s perceived as willing to say anything to get elected, combined with a sense that he and his Ayn Rand-worshipping running mate are more radical than the vast majority of Americans, a ticket that wants to dismantle both the New Deal and the Great Society.
Mitt’s being told to be more specific, but if you don’t trust someone to begin with, what does it matter how specific he is? You think he’s going to do what he wants after he’s elected, and that what he wants will heavily favor the already rich. We are reluctant sellers who are not going to turn our company over to Mitt.