Some prominent Mitt Romney supporters are saying the presidential hopeful's campaign should stop sending mixed messages about the Supreme Court's health care ruling.
Romney and his staffers have been going back and forth on whether to call it a tax as an attack on President Obama or not a tax, to preserve the argument that Romney never raised taxes in his state despite having a similar health care law.
Head spinning a bit? We'll backtrack.
On Wednesday, Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, said the federal health care reform mandate constitutes a "tax," contradicting the way his senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, of the Etch-a-Sketch gaffe fame, characterized his position earlier this week. But the similar individual mandate and fee he signed into law when governor of Massachusetts is not a tax, he said in a separate interview, citing the Supreme Court's decision last Thursday.
In March, Fehrnstrom made headlines for saying in a CNN interview that the transition from the primaries to the general election was "almost like an Etch-a-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again."
Some people are calling the tax chatter another Romney flip-flop. Others are calling it the Etch-a-Sketch redux. Others, like editor of The Nation Katrina vanden Heuvel, are saying this incident makes the previous gaffe look like solid campaign strategy.
Romney now says health mandate is a tax. Making that Etch a Sketch look downright steady,stable and full of integrity.—
Katrina vandenHeuvel (@KatrinaNation) July 05, 2012
And now, plenty of people, including his supporters, are hitting Romney on the issue and letting him know that either he needs to get himself aligned with his staff on these issues, or scrap some of the staff and get a new game plan as they charge into the general election.
Media baron Rupert Murdoch, never shy on his views, tweeted that while he supports the former Massachusetts governor he believes Romney needs to shake up his staff to have a chance to beat Obama's seasoned campaign staff.
Met Romney last week. Tough O Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros. Doubtful.—
Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) July 01, 2012
And apparently, that tweet upset the Romney campaign, which prompted Murdoch to follow up with a tweet on Monday. He said he wants Romney to win, but instead of the campaign upset about the criticism they should heed some of the good advice Murdoch feels Romney is getting about trying to get his campaign in order.
Romney people upset at me! Of course I want him to win, save us from socialism, etc but should listen to good advice and get stuck in!—
Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) July 02, 2012
Murdoch's tweets of fury were followed by agreement from Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, and then a blistering editorial from the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal.
Welch tweeted that he hoped Romney's camp would heed Murdoch's advice, noting that the Obama campaign staff is a well-oiled machine at this point.
Hope Mitt Romney is listening to Murdoch advice ont campaign staff..playing in league with Chicago pols..No room for amateurs—
Jack Welch (@jack_welch) July 02, 2012
And the Wall Street Journal went further with an elaborate editorial that declared the tax or not a tax issue is indicative of larger campaign problems. The editorial says what could have easily been a choreographed way to attack Obama has essentially turned into a political defeat for Romney.
"Why make such an unforced error? Because it fits with Mr. Romney's fear of being labeled a flip-flopper, as if that is worse than confusing voters about the tax and health-care issues. Mr. Romney favored the individual mandate as part of his reform in Massachusetts, and as we've said from the beginning of his candidacy his failure to admit that mistake makes him less able to carry the anti-ObamaCare case to voters ...
His latest mistake is of a piece with the campaign's insular staff and strategy that are slowly squandering an historic opportunity. Mr. Obama is being hurt by an economic recovery that is weakening for the third time in three years. But Mr. Romney hasn't been able to take advantage, and if anything he is losing ground.
The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it's Mr. Obama's fault. We're on its email list and the main daily message from the campaign is that "Obama isn't working." Thanks, guys, but Americans already know that. What they want to hear from the challenger is some understanding of why the President's policies aren't working and how Mr. Romney's policies will do better."