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.
What do you expect? Those other candidates are going to go after the front-runner. I think his waiting until the structure of the agreement was finalized reflects on "getting the facts" and not puting down a gauntlet come heck or high water. Same with not signing any pledges. He's ahead and will be the nominee.
Republicans are so characteristic in their politics. Yeah, let's let America crash first or redistribute wealth to the wealthiest Americans while the middle class and poor scape by. Corporations sending jobs over seas and then buy treasury bonds so they get paid twice once by not being taxed and again in interest on bonds. Ridiculous!
It's okay romneycare, you don't have to support anything because you don't hold office nor does most of us care about what you say.
As always you sat on the sidelines then you finally had something to say after all was done.
The teabaggers have become a third party and we need to destroy them at the polls come 2012. Piers had two of their so-called leaders on and one of them, meckler in CA, had quite a sinister little smirk when Piers mentioned that the teabaggers had embarrassed boner. armey is also on and he is another divisive devil. I wouildn't follow any of these fools out of a burning building. I wonder where they would be if our president was white! Right, sitting at home watching what the shrub started while they kept quiet. The rethugs were held hostage by these imbeciles along with the rest of the country.
just know GOP played drama....vote for direct Democratic party in 2012....
Simply put, Political Coward......Just like 2 % tim
I described Romney like Reed Richards (a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic the stretchy guy from the Fantastic Four) in terms of his positions. He changes postiions and is flexible with his ideals. I said this in 2008 and it is still true now.
Good for Mitt. He stated his philosophy, 'Cut, Cap, and Balance' when Washington abandoned the first proposal Romney made it clear that he did not. When the final legislation was available he read it and stated his disagreement with the terms. Romney doesn’t want to be, nor should he be, the person who ‘shouts out’ at every sound-bite broadcast across the nation. Quiet dignity is an admirable trait.
1). I don't like the way you look, talk, or think. And neither do any of the Republicans that I talk to regularly.
2). I would NEVER vote for you.
3). You are as "typical" as politicians get; you have done NOTHING to distinguish yourself from the people you criticize daily.
4). Voters told you what they thought of you during the last presidential primaries. What makes you think they've REALLY changed their minds? Why won't you listen?
5). If you really want to make a tangible difference, take some of the money you've fleeced from Americans and hire a dozen or so? What's stopping you from doing that?
6). How much of the millions you have "made" from "businesses" you have "run" resulted from fraudulent activites by your "friends" on Wall Street? Can we see a money trail that shows us EXACTLY where your money came from? If the answer is no, why not?
7). See items 1, 2, 3, and 4 again.
8). Please, just go sit down!!
mitness protection is about right when was the last time we had presiden whos first name is milford? anyone
Republicans should be nicer to Romney. According to polls he's their best chance at beating Obama.
Let the circular firing squads commence!
Those two Romney quotes at the end of the article aren't a contradiction at all. I am starting to think Romney is one of the only people out there in America with an IQ in the triple digits; certainly the CNN reporters are falling way short . . . His first statement about Obama making the recession longer and worse is obviously a reference against a hypothetical baseline: what the economy might have been like had there been competent leadership in Washington (which there wasn't). His second quote is a true fact: the economy has grown since the recession ended (just barely), though it would have grown much faster with a strong and knowledgeable administration in the White House.
All Romney has going for him is limitless mendacity and limitless opportunism.
Since Romney is the front runner right now he is trying to play it safe by not sticking his neck out. He wants to appeal to the hard line Republicans as well as be the boy toy of Wall Street. He is like the guy who is trying to mess around with two women eventually he will slip up and lose both.
1rst comment? nice
It seems strange for the Republican party to attack its best chance at the White House. Anyone else is a joke at this point.
This man is utterly useless and not at all qualified for the highest office in the land...
This greasehead has no chance of getting GOP nomination. He cant beat Bachmann.
Monday morning quarterback much???
Amazing how none of these filthy Republicans spoke up even a day ago...
Romney's true colors are coming out. He clearly believes the US government shouldn't be destroyed. In other words he's a liberal socialist Marxist and no matter how much lip service he gives to the Tea Party, it's still just fluff.
Give him time-he'll change his mind.....
Flip Flopper Extraordinaire.....
Mitt Romney would have voted for it if he was in office , what a hypocrite .
I hope somebody asks Mitt why none of his five sons did any military service !
Happy Birthday Mr. President !
Obama 2012 !
Mitt your own GOP is going to turn on you. Give it up!!
I'm 86 years old....I've seen a lot of administrations come and go but I don't remember any so confusing and just generally a mess.. I really believe as I've said many times that the Republicans put their feet and the Democrats feet all in the mud when they started letting that bunch of crazy public park clowns start to have a little power. Now even the Repubs don't know what to do as the T P's do their damdest to take over. I don't get it...they are not a legitimate party!! this is a two party government not three. The Repubs really blew it for all of us. I'll never forget the T.P sign"Take the Government out of my Medicare" What a bunch of squirrels!!!!!!!
Five hours and no comments? That is because Mitt is boring.