Mitt Romney isn't beating President Obama in polls, even though the economy sucks and mobs of people are burning the American flag outside a whole bunch of embassies. Pundits are scrambling to explain this unexpected state of affairs. Here's what they've come up with. And, as you might expect, most of these theories don't have anything to do with policy or the economy.
Theory: He's a bad candidate because he's a businessman at heart..
Explanation: Romney's a CEO kind of guy, not a baby-kisser. "Lousy candidate; highly qualified to be president," an anonymous Romney adviser told Politico. "He’s missing the normal-guy gene," a "top Republican" said. When Romney insulted London right before the Olympics, he was just being an analytical CEO, instead of a people-pleasing politician. Romney has flip-flopped and adopted conservative positions because, like a businessman, he thinks he should "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."
Theory: He's not quick-witted.
Explanation: Romney made mistakes in the debates because he's not good at thinking on his feet. There was his $10,000 bet, there was the time he said "maybe" when asked if he'd release 12 years of tax returns. "The debate team had discussed it," a Romney adviser told Draper. "We thought the answer was supposed to be either yes or no, but not maybe." A former strategist explained: "Generally speaking, if you ask him to execute a strategy of 'do no harm,' he can do that. By contrast, if you ask him to move the ball forward, that becomes something outside of his comfort zone." Likewise, an "a top member of Romney’s organization" told Politico: "As much as we complain about politicians, we like a good politician. He doesn’t have the hand-on-the-shoulder thing. He’s not quick-witted." (Photo via Reuters.)
Theory: He won't reveal his secret economic plan.
Theorist: Bloomberg's Josh Barro
Explanation: Romney aides told Politico they're working on a 200-day plan to get the economy going once he's in office. "Romney should announce this plan!" Barro writes. "His strategy of secrecy is obviously failing. He needs a bold, unconventional move if he wants to win the election and actually telling people what he would do if elected might be it. A specific economic plan would help Romney make the case that, unlike the paralyzed incumbent, he will be a dynamic job creator -- and it's the best rebuttal he can offer to the 47 percent fiasco."
Theory: He didn't pick Rob Portman as his running mate.
Theorist: The Washington Examiner's Byron York
Explanation: Romney is losing Ohio. Portman is from Ohio. And Portman is "relaxed, sharp and persuasive" on the stump, plus people like him. Ohio Republicans think picking Portman would have given Romney a few more points in the polls in Ohio. And Paul Ryan? "For a while after the Ryan choice was announced, the GOP went on offense on Medicare, with some Republicans believing they had finally cracked the code for attacking Democrats on what had been an unassailable Democratic issue." But Democrats are being Republicans on the issue by double digits. (Photo via Associated Press.)
Theory: He is too small.
Explanation: Romney should have made a sweeping indictment of Obama's foreign policy in the wake of the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, and he should have offered the Clinton Global Initiative a foreign policy vision more grand than reforming foreign aid. "It makes you think how far ahead Romney would be if he were actually running a campaign. His unwillingness to go big, to go for the larger argument, is simply astonishing," Krauthammer says. "When you’re behind, however, safe is fatal. Even his counterpunching has gone miniature."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.