Romney 'squandering an historic opportunity,' scathing editorial says
July 5th, 2012
10:18 AM ET
11 years ago

Romney 'squandering an historic opportunity,' scathing editorial says

(CNN) – An editorial in the Wall Street Journal fiercely criticized Mitt Romney Thursday, days after media titan Rupert Murdoch, who owns the paper, suggested the candidate replace his staff.

The editorial took particular aim at Team Romney's handling of the Supreme Court decision that upheld the health care reform law as a tax, and was therefore ruled constitutional.

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It starts off pointing to Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom for straying away from the party line earlier this week, when he called the health care fee a "penalty," rather than a tax.

"For conservative optimists who think Mr. Fehrnstrom misspoke or is merely dense, his tax absolution gift to Mr. Obama was confirmed by campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul, who tried the same lame jujitsu spin. In any event, Mr. Fehrnstrom is part of the Boston coterie who are closest to Mr. Romney, and he wouldn't say such a thing without the candidate's approval," stated the editorial board, which typically leans conservative.

Romney, who signed off on a similar health care law as former Massachusetts governor, attempted to clarify his own position in a CBS interview aired Wednesday. He said the penalty was in fact a tax, as ruled by the Supreme Court–unlike his Massachusetts law, which he said was a penalty.

"States can implement penalties and mandates and so forth under their constitutions, which is what Massachusetts did," he said. "But the federal government does not have those powers, and therefore for the Supreme Court to reach the conclusion it did – that the law was constitutional – they had to find it was a tax, and they did."

However, the Wall Street Journal said Romney "offered no elaboration" in his interview, and "the campaign looks confused in addition to being politically dumb."

The editorial argued the campaign's latest snafu was a sign of larger ineptitude within what they described as Romney's "insular" team. It insisted the candidate's hesitation to forcefully come out and call the penalty a tax sooner was "slowly squandering an historic opportunity."

"Mr. Obama is being hurt by an economic recovery that is weakening for the third time in three years. But Mr. Romney hasn't been able to take advantage, and if anything he is losing ground," the editorial read.

The article was published just days after Murdoch, followed by former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, took to Twitter to say President Barack Obama's team will be hard to beat unless Romney hired new team members.

Romney campaign spokeswoman Saul reacted to Murdoch's tweets Tuesday, writing: "Gov. Romney respects Rupert Murdoch and also respects his team and has confidence in them."

- CNN's Kevin Liptak and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Rupert Murdoch
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Bob

    The Wall Street Journal's comments are at least as stupid. This is petty semantics. Call it a tax or call it a commerce regulation – either way, a good faith argument can apparently be made. So skip the faux outrage. If you don't like the Affordable Care Act, just say you think it's unwise and work for repeal. But this phony outrage over semantics just reinforces an impression the GOP panders to stupid people.

    July 5, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  2. Core republican Values

    I agree completely. Romney is our last chance to put the 99% in their place, shining our shoes, feeding our horses, and cleaning our pools.

    July 5, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  3. chuck weidemann

    Romney "respects Rupert Murdoch" ....the phone tapper,ruthless businessman that he is! Now look who Romney doesn't respect....the president of the United States....or the chief justice of the United States. That should tell you something. How about that Diamond guy from Barclays bank that had to step down from Romney's fund raising event in England because he was manipulating bank Romney "respects" him too!!!

    July 5, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |

    When your campaign staff suggest that you're an Etch-A-Sketch, someone needs to be fired Willard. I thought you liked firing people who provide bad service to you?!?! Stand by your words and fire your campaign staff.

    July 5, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. Governor 47th in Job Creation (excluding jobs off-shored to China)

    uh huh. Just wait until reporters dig into stericycle and Willard's Cayman accounts...Willard's personal accounting does not add up, let alone his wishes for larger defense and tax cuts for the wealthy.

    July 5, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  6. Logic N LA

    Two intersting points are made in this article. First, that a paper supporting him chastised Romney and his ability to run the campaign. and Two- that despite real fact,s that the GOP walks in step with deceptive comments. The later being not follwed by obviously subversive Republicans workign for Romey- you know the kind, ones with a mind of their own.

    July 5, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. Publius Novus

    The WSJ, along with its constituent party, the GOP is wacked. Who cares if it's a tax or a penalty? The individual mandate–a creation of the Heritage Foundation–is charged against people who attempt to freeload on the system by gaming insurance. They bet that they won't get sick or injured and require expensive healthcare. If they win the bet, they don't pay anyting–good for them. If they lose the bet, you and I pay. The individual mandate is a good-faith effort to make sure that if the freeloaders lose the bet, the freeloaders pay a liittle more and you and I pay a little less. Tax, sxhmax. penalty, schmenalty. Semantics.

    July 5, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  8. Etch-A-Sketch Mitt RobMe Say_Nothing -Do_Nothing_Flip_n_Flopper VULTURE CAPITALIST

    Etch-A-Sketch Mitt RobMe says he "likes firing people that provides bad services to me", so he should fire his campaign staff and OUTSOURCE their JOBS to INDIA & CHINA...and take a profit off their huge salaries and let the CHINESE come run his campaign! LOL

    At least he is already OFFSHORING his campaign fund raiser to LONDON to pally with corrupt disgraced Barclays CEO Bob Diamond and COO Jerry del Missier!!!

    That's what Etch-A-Sketch Mitt RobMe business record is ALL ABOUT & what he is good at....a Vulture Capitalist who likes raiding US compainies for record profits at the expense of hard working tax-paying American Workers!!!

    July 5, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  9. Steve Nezianya

    When they pay it in Mass it is a penalty but when they pay it in Iowa it will be a tax. That is so dumb.
    Romney, make up your mind already!

    July 5, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  10. Leo

    The fact is that in a video interview Romney stated that his Mass health care mandate was a "penalty" for those who refused to take personal responsibility. I do not understand why republicans continue to defend "freeloaders". My hospital charges insured patients 4 times the actual cost of their services to cost shift and cover all those who cannot pay. UNIVERSAL coverage is the ONLY solution! Why do you think everything costs so much? Hospitals must cost shift or go out of business. The alternative some republicans favor – letting people die if they cannot pay, is uncivilized and evil. On the battlefield "we leave no one behind", so too must it be with health care. Their is no US and THEM, only us!

    July 5, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    However, the Wall Street Journal said Romney "offered no elaboration" in his interview, and "the campaign looks confused in addition to being politically dumb."
    "...politically dumb." That's is a pretty draconian remark. Isn't Romney supposed to be the guy who is some osrt of economic savant? By definiton, a savant is someone is an absolute genius at one thing, but pretty much dumb and ignorant when it ciomes to anything else.

    July 5, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  12. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Where are your tax returns, Mitt?

    July 5, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  13. Dave

    I would not listen to Murdock. Romney is a far better candidate for President than our current President is. Romney actually has a record of success. Obama has increased debt, deficits and unemployment.

    July 5, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  14. Anthony

    If the mandate is a tax, then Romney and Republicans have wasted two years pursuing a Supreme Court invalidation of Obama's law. Remember that Romney said that Obama would have wasted his presidency for nothing if the Supreme Court had struck down the law? The same can now be said of Republican effort to overturn the law in the court. If the mandate is a tax, then Romney increased tax in his Massachusetts plan, because the Massachusetts plan also has an individual mandate.

    WSJ is wrong. The problem is not the staff. The problem is the candidate. No Republican candidate should be losing to Obama in a Fox News poll. But Romney trails Obama by 5 points in the latest Fox News poll.

    July 5, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  15. Larry L


    Wise comments Bob. I believe the GOP has made a big mistake in targeting the fearful and undereducated slice of the right-wing. Being "outraged" about a term from a plan that mirrors Romney's suggested replacement plan is ridiculous. Romney's suggested plan simply lists the current law – but fails to explain how we'll pay for it. He says the "free market" and "unspecified cuts". Translated that means "I'll give the money to corporations and cut Medicare".

    July 5, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. ge

    romney -finishing off the middle class,the ones bush let get away

    July 5, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  17. NOT2BLUE

    Jesus Christ and the 12 disciples could not advise a chronic flip-flopper like Mitt. He will eventually wind up making every last one of them look like fools including every last person who votes for him. His double talking will eventually be what does him in. I hope it's not after he becomes the leader of the free world.

    July 5, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  18. Nick

    @ Core republican Values:

    Exceptionally well stated.

    July 5, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. MaryM

    The only thing that changed is the Supreme Count changed the name of a penalty to Tax. If that pushed anyone over the edge then you are so dense and gullible I can see why all these republican congressmen can appeal to you.

    July 5, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  20. Vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    and just WHO owns the Wall Street Journal? You may have your answer right there!

    July 5, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  21. sayer

    Mitt, why don't you bring all of your money back to the U.S.? If you are a patriot and love your country that is in need financially, that is what you would do.

    July 5, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  22. Dave

    Flip-flop, flip-flop... Romney gets more pathetic every day...

    July 5, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  23. John

    What about the middle class such as myself that doesnt qualify for medicare, is healthy, can pay for own doctors visit once a year but cant afford medical insurance regardless of the price?

    July 5, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Talking about amatuers, why is Saul, Romney's campaign manager, tweeting about Welch and Murdoch, they aren't running for anything and they're on your side, he should be tweeting to Romney to get his message out.

    July 5, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  25. Deb in MT

    "...If they win the bet, they don't pay anyting–good for them. If they lose the bet, you and I pay..."

    Well said, Publius. Or–IOW–"Private reward; Public risk", kinda like all the Wall Street shenanigans over the past few decades that nearly sank this economy in 2008. Same old, same old. Willard would love it, of course, being the guy for the 1%ers and all.

    July 5, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
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