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.
We understand– you see, WE DON'T SUPPORT YOU EITHER.
Did you really expect Romney to take a position until he knew it was safe to do so? Romney is not presidential material. He has no back bone.
I like that "Missing Leadership" – Should get T-Shirts made up with the face of each member of Congress and send it to them. Nah they wouldn't even get the message than. I am going to get one with Speaker Boehner's face and one with Rep. Cantor face for myself.
One word. Studebaker. Or, could this be over you're empty heads?
missing in action
Who cares what you support, Mittens the flip flopper.
Mittens forgot how the GOBP gutted the stimulus bill (too small already) for tax cuts instead. That's the part that didn't work. Tax cuts generally return less than $1 in economic activity for every $1 cut. Stimulus spending, on the other hand, generally produces more than $1 in economic activity for every dollar spent. Either the teatards are bad at math or they know good and well they're lying. Since for all his failings Mittens probably isn't stupid, that makes him a blatant liar.
By the way, Mittens, what is your plan for jobs and rescuing the economy? It's easy to run your propaganda spewing yap and spout cult platitudes about proven policy failures, yet you have no real plan. And what sacrifices should your fellow billionaires make along with the rest of us? Got an answer for that, Mittens?
I personally cannot support you.
Who cares anymore !!!! He will just accelerate our fall into the abyss of being " just another third world country". All of these guys are in the pockets of corporates. Just look at the recent Supreme Court ruling on corporate contributions !!!!!!.---
Mittens is going down like a coward in flames AGAIN this election cycle. He should have been named 'Coward' – if fits him. Too bad his track record as one-term governor of Mass. is so poor that IT doesn't even back him up. It's over, Coward. You're done. Go back to Mommy and get some milk and cookies.
Romney's Allentown comment was about specifics brought up by the journalist, like the stock market, which on that day was higher than usual. Clearly the point of the press conference was to point out Obama's failure to turn things around, and how bad things have become.
Mitt has one of the best economic records around, and has backed Cut, Cap, and Balance since before it was invented as a bill. In Massachusetts, Mitt wiped out the State debt and left a $700 million rainy day fund, enough to cover RomneyCare overages for about 50 years.
The average unemployment rate in Massachusetts under Mitt was 5.2%, and ended up at 4.7%, far lower than Rick Perry's Texas at 8.2% or Barack Obama's "America" at 9.2%.
These GOP campaigners aren't offering anything, just hoping the debt ceiling talk will go away and that's exactly what Palin is waiting for. Palin like the others think they can just watz right in and say I want to be President, sorry it doesn't work like that, you got to put some red meat on the table and not just the name President Obama. You can't "retreat" and then return after all the heavy lifting has been done by others and say you've been "reloading", real leaders don't "retreat" only quitters "retreat".
Did you notice how Mr. Clean stayed out of the whole process on the sidelines and now steps in from his Country-club to chid everyone else?
Another extremely wealthy businessman that has Not a clue about average Americans or the difficulties that they face every day.
Out of touch fraud.
Hey Mitt! You don't have to support it because you can't vote on it anyway. Who cares what you support?
Romney has stayed out of this debate. Why? It's frightening..!! Boehner and Associates are being worse than President Hoover. Stock Market is scared and heading down due to these terror messages. Just look- retirement savings are down, home prices are down, unemployment and foreclosures are high. This is not a time to cut spending or reduce taxes of high income people- who can afford to contribute. Spending cuts and reduced taxes at a time of recession will shake the economy down in 2011-2012. Then Romney's campaign will fail.
Romney has no plan, so he just talks trash. What a loser!
Mitt who? that is what i think of him...not at all. worst gov in ma. history...crook and job killer who cares what he thinks. oh and a liar too
I think the republicans see Mitt as the "place-holder" for Perry (oh no! not another Texas Governor!)
On, NOW you want to talk about the debt. You can't choose to be a leader after your Soldier's have done the dirty work.
Romney was Mitting in action, throughout the whole process
Flippity flop flop flop. This is the Mitt we have come to love. What an opportunist. Says nothing until it is over and it won't make a difference and then opens his big fat Mormon mouth. Is that what they teach you in Mormon school. Coward.
Easy to say when you're sitting on the sidelines, Mitt.
I just don't know who we can find to run for President. There is nobody in our party. It looks like I am going to switch and vote Democrat this time.
Romney is too liberal – that's the problem, plain and simple.
I guess we can blame it on the process . . . No matter how lacking the talent vying for the republican presidential nominee. It's all a part of the political game. I honestly can not for the life of me see any other president in the making accept the one we have now in office. He's far from perfect but considering our options, President Obama"s a God sent . . . Period! America, do yourself a favor, reelect Obama in 2012. Period!