Mitt Romney didn't comment on the negotiations to raise the federal debt limit until 12 hours after the White House and Congress came to an agreement on something that could actually pass. Many commented that the decision to rise above the debate made the Republican candidate look calculating, but Politico's Ben Smith argues it was part of a larger campaign strategy to avoid the press--he's done just 24 public events since he officially joined the race June 2. And the strategy isn't without cost, it seems, as Smith dubs it the "Mittness Protection Program."
Bottom line: He has no margin for error for some conservatives. But the way he spoke out on it (or didn't) risks undercutting the basic premise of his campaign--that he's willing to lead because the president's not. It's THAT aspect his opponents have picked up on.
Romney's opponents were not exactly covering themselves in glory, and he's prone to making gaffes. Sometimes, less is more. In light of the toll that the debt-ceiling fight has taken on the politicians who were most involved, I'd say that's more true now than ever. President Obama's approval ratings hit their lowest level last week. ...Mitt Romney certainly won't win any "Profile in Courage" awards. But in terms of raw politics, steering clear of this fight seems like a shrewd move and the Mittness Protection Program not such a bad place to be.
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