Mitt Romney annoyed a couple conservatives Tuesday by saying, "It's very easy to excite the base with incendiary comments" at a press conference in Michigan. "In other words, he thinks they're stupid. Any other way to interpret?" The Weekly Standard's John McCormack tweets. "Wow, I wonder how the base will regard those comments," his colleague Stephen Hayes says. Guys, relax. Maybe it's not the base that's the object of Romney's scorn and condescension, but his opponent. "I'm not willing to light my hair on fire in order to get support," Romney said. He doesn't have to! Are you really going to vote for the hair-on-fire, incendiary-commenting Rick Santorum? Romney doesn't think so.
Romney held the press conference to address his recent verbal slips, tersely admitting they'd hurt him, The Washington Post's Philip Rucker reports. Still, he said, "In the final analysis, I anticipate becoming the nominee." That confidence seems to come not just from his confidence in his strengths, but in his opponents' weaknesses. One of Romney's little tics is saying that if people don't like him, they can vote for someone else. What's implied is that the other options aren't so great. "If people think there is something wrong with being successful in America then they better vote for the other guy," Romney told Fox News Sunday. "If you don't like my answer, you can vote for someone else," Romney, talking about taxes, said in Iowa in August. "Vote for either one of us and you’ll be happy," Romney said of Herman Cain in October. He took it pretty far in a September debate, before he'd lost any state primaries, saying, "There are a lot of reasons not to elect for me." Then he added the part that's usually left unspoken: "There are a lot of reasons not to elect other people on the stage." He really meant "a lot more reasons."