It started out simply enough. A new Priorities USA ad tells the story of a man, Joe Soptic, who lost his job — and thus his health insurance — after Bain bought out his plant. Years later his wife died what may have been a preventable death of cancer.
It's not a very good ad. Romney's not a killer, although this ad suggests that he uncaringly caused this woman to be without health insurance and subsequently die. In reality, Romney never knew the woman or her husband, of course.
But still, the ad made a minor shockwave, and so a Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul went on Fox to challenge the ad.
And then it happened . . . let’s go to the quotes
“To that point, if people had been in Massachusetts, under Governor Romney’s health care plan, they would have had health care,” Andrea Saul, Romney’s campaign press secretary, said during an appearance on Fox News. “There are a lot of people losing their jobs and losing their health care in President [Barack] Obama’s economy.”
Now, instead of the ad, her quote has become the story.
Why? Because she's speaking of the virtues of Romneycare, the basis for Obamacare.
And the right is livid. Take Redstate blogger and CNN analyst Erick Erickson:
Conservatives have put aside their distrust of Romney on this issue in the name of beating Barack Obama. They thought he and his campaign team had gotten the message and the hints. Consider the scab picked, the wound opened, and the distrust trickling out again.
About the only thing more stupid in terms of building bridges with the right would be to say something nice about fetal stem cell research.
Start your watches for that one!
He also tweeted:
Now, he's probably wrong about that, but this is a pretty bad unforced error.
UPDATE: I should probably point out that Andera Saul's faux pas wasn't really a mistake. Romney, on the campaign trail lately, has been making nods toward talking about his health care "success" in Massachusetts:
"[A]t the top of my list of programs we don't need is one that costs $100 billion a year I'm going to get rid of and that's Obamacare. And by the way, that doesn't mean that health care is perfect. We've got to do reforms in health care and I have some experience doing that as you know. And I know how to make a better setting than the one we have in health care."
But even attempting to thread that needle has the right in conniption fits. He can't talk about Romneycare without it being a tacit endorsement of Obamacare, they argue (somewhat convincingly).
In any event, it seems that Romney's new strategy strongly displeases the right, and that can't be good for Romney.
UPDATE: Rush joins those who are livid. If Romney had any hopes of moving to be a centrist position… on anything… it's clear he's going to face the wrath of the right.