Washington (CNN) – It was roughly nine hours before the voting began in the U.S. House of Representatives on raising the debt ceiling when a message from Mitt Romney hit the in-boxes of political reporters across the country.
"I personally cannot support this deal," the statement read.
The Republican presidential front-runner had taken a stand on the agreement reached to increase the debt limit. The problem was, conservatives said, Romney was one of the last GOP contenders to do so.
Matt Lewis, a blogger with the conservative website The Daily Caller, posted an image of Romney's face on a milk carton. Above the face of the former governor was the glaring caption: "Missing Leadership."
In Politico, Ben Smith wondered whether Romney had entered the "Mittness Protection Program."
One of Romney's rivals, a noticeably more aggressive Jon Huntsman, was also milking the issue. He all but asked: "Got Mitt?"
"To dodge the debate, or to wait until the debate is over, effectively, and to take a side, I don't consider that to be leadership," Huntsman said.
The Romney campaign has said for weeks the GOP contender favored a bill, dubbed "cut, cap and balance," that tied a debt ceiling increase to steep spending reductions and a balanced budget amendment.
"The answer for the country is for the president to agree to cut federal spending, to cap federal spending and put in place a balanced budget amendment. And that is the answer for the debt limit," Romney said at a campaign event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, last month.
But critics cried that was not a clear position on whether to raise the debt ceiling.
Another GOP contender, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, took a stand in her first TV ad nearly a month ago.
"I will not vote to increase the debt ceiling," Bachmann said in the ad.
But flying below the radar might pay off in the long run. Note the latest Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania, a Democratic firewall state, where Romney is beating President Barack Obama by a slim 44-42 margin.
Republican strategist Ron Bonjean argues Romney is playing the issue just right.
"Washington, D.C., right now is like political quicksand for 2012 political candidates. If you get involved it's going to be hard for you to climb out of it," Bonjean said.
But Romney's unrelenting conservative critics complain the front-runner's lack of clarity on the issue is another installment of "Malleable Mitt," a candidate who insisted at a CNN debate in June the president had made the economy worse.
"What this president has done has slowed the economy. He didn't create the recession, but he made it worse and longer," Romney said at the debate.
He appeared to contradict himself later that month. "I didn't say that things were worse. What I said was, the economy hasn't turned around," Romney said at a campaign stop in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Romney is ramping up his campaign in August, with a slew of stops planned in Iowa and New Hampshire. Voters in those states will have plenty of opportunities to try to pin him down.
Willard is in Mittness Protection. Hilarious! Romney better watch out. Huntsman is going to prove himself to be the more moderate republican and steal away Romney's support.
It's pretty easy to take a stand when you aren't responsible for anything like most of the 2012 Republican candidates. For them it's just talk and posturing. If the debt ceiling hadn't been raised and the economy tanked, they wouldn't have had to take any responsibility. They could just keep talking and spinning. They don't have to actually deal with the specifics of budget cuts. The devil is in the details.
And a balanced budget – what does that mean? I'm not sure I even know anyone who doesn't have a house payment, a car payment, or a credit card payment. Despite living on borrowed money, they think they have their budgets balanced. Businesses constantly borrow money for inventory, purchases, expansion, etc.. Actually that's the whole idea of leverage. So how can businessmen complain about the government borrowing money (and I'm sure they do) when that is an accepted practice for them?
Romney is a snake oil salesman to me, but at least he took the time to think about what was in the deal rather than blurt out his view before the terms of the deal were even known. But in the end, he joined a long line of Republicans who were all for turning the greatest country in the world into a deadbeat.
This is not at all pretty impressive Mitt. You are regarded as a front-runner (at the time being) in numbers, but not in actions!
I don't know what they are so upset about , The Republican rise the dept ceiling with out no spending cuts 19 time under President Regan and 7 times Under President BUSH. The Tea Party and the Republican were just playing Politic and trying to make the President Obama to look bad. But It fail because It make the Tea Party and the Republican party look even worse.Mitch McConnell say It him self that the Republican pain job was to have President Obama A one term President. When Is It the Republican Job to make President Obama a one term President ,that up to the American People. And i think he doing the best JOB he can with No help from the Republican Party ,that keep saying NO to everything he want to do. Or complain about everything else. What the American People should do Is get the Republican out of control of the House and make sure they lose seat In the Senate, and Reelected President Obama so he can get American People back to work. You know the Republican are not going to do It. They all ready Promise to to get American People Jobs when they ran on It 2010 and they have LIE to the American People again. And than you have the bad JOB they did on the hole dept ceiling deal. The Tea Party and the Republican Party Job Is To Protect the Rich and BIG BUSINESS, and the hell with the rest of us.
I do like the milk carton bit, might as well give us something to laugh at and it's better than anything else the GOP candidates have come up with, although they are all a joke unto themselves! What a bunch of clowns.
Romney is very qualified to become president and extremely smart. He has three decades of turning around poor performing organizations in the private sector (including the Salt Lake City Olympics which were in the ditch) and making them successful. The U.S. has never had someone like him as president and we need someone like him right now.
Mitt Romney took his time so what it was a big decision. It might be a fiasco down the road.
Now hold on a minute. Are we really saying that the ex-governor of Mass. should have done something about the debt cieling? Cause if we are than that is un-fair. I am no fan of Romeny but it is pretty weak attacking him about something over which he has absolutely no control. This is one Democrat who definately won;t bother Mitt Romeny over this issue. Especially not when there are so many more to choose from.
Good timing, Mittens,you constantly prove what a backseat driver you are. That's not leadership. Our Congress is a mess and even Wall St. is scared. My stocks tanked, thanks GOP! The economy will never recover under GOP control. We're about to see another half million jobs go away and then they'll blame Obama.....just wait. What a joke!
Now that the crisis is averted for the moment, the Repugs turn on each other like Siamese Fighting Fish in an insufficient tank.
In the meantime remember: Social security is earned(not an entitlement). If that bothers you, consider this-with continued layoffs and underemployment, Social Security recipients are the new Bourgeoisie. Live with that, Baggers.
Can we just put ALL the GOP contentors on milk cartons?
Flip to the flop, also known as, Mitt Romney is starting to mollycoddle the Teabaggery nonsense. What a shame. The GOP's best bet is Huntsman.
Of course, there was no bill to support or oppose until the final bill emerged. Further, all Romney was saying what he would have done, had he been President. One of the realities of this deal was that it had to be something that President Obama would not veto. So, all Romney (or any candidate for president) could legitimately say was that he would have used the threat of the veto power to leverage even greater cuts than those that showed up in the final bill.
So Mitt waits til the last minute and then came down on the side with the far, far right that want to eliminate social security and medicare.
Somehow we are all suppose to end up rich like Mitt so we don't need these things. Mitt just can't understand why everyone isn't rich.
This come from the same guy that wants the rich to only pay taxes on what they spend.
I'm confused. Is this bozo running for Madam President or just plain old 'Madam'?
That’s all just cover for the lack of leadership we currently have in the White House. In the end Smokin Joe had to get the deal done with McConnell as an impudent and incompetent Obama took notes from the sidelines. As far as Romney, most conservatives agree this was a bad deal not worthy of support but it’s the best we could do with a President that runs the country like his own person fiefdom or charity.