Mitt Romney had not commented on any of the many potential deals to raise the debt ceiling until Monday morning, when he came out against the first plan that actually seems likely to become law. Romney has made economic issues the focus of his campaign, but many think the timing on his statement looks cynical. At this point, Romney can't really change the elements of the deal--only help sink it just hours before the Treasury Department's deadline to avoid default.
Romney issued a statement saying:
As president, my plan would have produced a budget that was cut, capped and balanced--not one that opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table. President Obama's leadership failure has pushed the economy to the brink at the eleventh hour and 59th minute. While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama's lack of leadership has placed Republican Members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal.
The New York Times' Michael D. Shear says this statement allows Romney "to argue that he has not strayed from Tea Party conservatives who think the legislation does not go far enough in cutting the budget and restraining spending." Still, Politico's Maggie Haberman doubts that "after days of quiet on the topic... this will quell his critics, but it's the first real points he's putting on the board on the issue that has dominated the news cycle." In response, the National Review's Rich Lowry tweeted, "does anyone believe [R]omney really opposes the debt deal?" The Spectator's Alex Massie asks the same question:
As Ben Smith notes this is a statement crafted with an eye on the Republican primary, not the general election. As is so often the case Romney asks people (that is, the Beltway classes) to believe that his fakery is properly fake while hoping other people (the electorate) believes his obvious fakery is actually renewed and vigorous conviction. Half the time Romney says Trust me, I don't really believe this and half the time he says Trust me, I really do believe this. At some point this too must eventually become too cute by half.