On “Morning Joe” this morning, panelists including Joe Scarborough slammed Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s rape comments and said that Romney should come out stronger against them and ask for Mourdock to pull the ad featuring Romney’s endorsement. In other words, they all have more standards than Romney does. Romney’s appeasement of the base is showing again in his lack of leadership.
SCARBOROUGH: It is remarkable what Republican candidates have said this year.
BRZEZINSKI: I know.
SCARBOROUGH: Regarding abortion, regarding rape, regarding contraception. I’m a pro-life guy.
SCARBOROUGH: But they are driving away so many swing voters. This Mourdock statement in Indiana, just beyond the pale, dragging God into it. And, I mean, he’s not alone. You’ve got other Republicans out there just saying the craziest, most offensive — just think–what goes through their mind? Do they go, you know what I want to be when I grow up? The next Todd Akin. They’re morons.
BRZEZINSKI: The party has to just take the hit and get rid of these people. Just completely separate themselves. And Mitt Romney is in a very awkward position.
SCARBOROUGH: I commend — I certainly commend the Republican leadership for immediately distancing themselves from Todd Akin.
SCARBOROUGH: The senatorial committee led by John Cornyn, they have stayed away from him.
BRZEZINSKI: I remember that. That was–
SCARBOROUGH: They are under extreme pressure from a lot of powerful people. And they understand, when guys say things like this, they need to be thrown out. But this is what happens when you get guys like Mourdock who a lot of mainstream Republicans were worried about.
BRZEZINSKI: Yeah. Mitt Romney is in an ad with him.
SCARBOROUGH: I wonder if Lugar would be in trouble right now.
MEACHAM: We’ve seen in modern political history, we’ve seen parties that allow their extreme elements to seem to dominate the party. We’ve seen how well that works. The Democratic Party in the ’70s and ’80s, that was the truth. That was the prevailing wisdom. And if this fringe continues to take up so much space, it’s going to hurt the republicans for a long time.
HEILEMANN: Could I just point out one thing? Though you’re correct about what John Cornyn and the Republican Senatorial Committee did with respect to Todd Akin, they came out and supported Mourdock yesterday, full-throated support and no backing away whatever.
BRZEZINSKI: Not necessarily. We have — I think we’re waiting to see what happens. You’ve got The Huffington Post right there–
SCARBOROUGH: So we have a split in the party. The Huffington Post headline, “McCain Jumps Ship. Mourdock Must Apologize.” And Indiana’s Republican nominee for governor, one of the real conservative guys, Mike Pence, urged Mourdock to apologize. According to a campaign spokesman, Mitt Romney, though, said he doesn’t share Mourdock’s views on abortion, but so far Romney is declining to ask the senate nominee to remove a campaign ad from the air featuring Romney’s endorsement–
BRZEZINSKI: It’s not that clear?
SCARBOROUGH: Of Mourdock’s senate bid, I think they need to do that today.
BRZEZINSKI: They need to be clear.
SCARBOROUGH: They need to do that today. They need to be clear.
Last night, McCain started the tear in the party by saying that Mourdock needed to apologize. That drew attention to the fact that even some Republicans found Mourdock’s comments intolerable, which means that Independent voters certainly will. The Republican Party can’t afford to lose Independent voters, so they can’t afford to let those Independents know just how crazy they’ve gone. The only thing that would have saved them from yet another embarrassment is strong leadership from Romney. Had he immediately distanced himself and demanded Mourdock stop running the ad, things would be much different.
But if the Republican Party could do that, then Mitt Romney wouldn’t be the empty appeasing puppet who just wants power and glory and doesn’t really have any ideas. Nor would the Republicans have had to settle on the least offensive choice from a primary of clown candidates. Romney was chosen from the elite and foisted upon the desperate tea crazies. He’s been trying like heck to please them ever since.
Today the split that John McCain started is indeed making Romney look weak and fringy. Why couldn’t Romney see what the right thing to do was days ago when this first happened?
Probably because Romney has no guiding principles. He waits to see how other people react to something before he knows if it’s wrong or not. Until they signal 5 alarm fire, he assumes he’s in control and everything is fine. That alone should make people very nervous about his ability to be Commander in Chief.
When Joe Scarborough is calling you out for not being clear and for hanging around fringy morons, and you are following behind John McCain, you are not a leader.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.