Who’s afraid of Mitt and T-Paw…

May 20, 2011

It turns out that Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty are the scariest pair of presidential prospects in the GOP field today, judging from a new Democratic ad and remarks by some Democratic Party hierophants.

Priorities USA Action, a political group founded by two former aides to President Barack Obama, targets Romney as a flip-flopper in a South Carolina TV ad that wields Republican Paul Ryan’s Medicare reforms like a political cudgel.

The 30-second black-and-white spot begins with Newt Gingrich’s “Meet the Press” remarks opposing what he called radical right-wing social engineering on Medicare. The ad then recounts Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s defense of Ryan before turning finally to Romney: “Mitt Romney says he’s ‘on the same page’ as Paul Ryan … but with Mitt Romney, you have to wonder: which page is he on today?”

The New York Times says the ad will run this weekend while Romney visits South Carolina.

Pundits view the ad as evidence that Democrats have locked on Romney as the GOP frontrunner, at least for now.

Ed Rendell, a leading Democrat who served as Pennsylvania governor and DNC chairman, put it this way on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”:  “What really is instructive here is that this group’s trying to knock out Mitt Romney in the primaries. We don’t want to face Mitt Romney. A Romney-Pawlenty ticket is the most credible general election ticket.”

A monster twosome, perhaps. But that doesn’t mean top Republicans aren’t still baying at the doorsteps of Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie in hopes that one or both will take the plunge.

As Democrats entertain voter fears with visions of a Republican plot to rub out Medicare, the GOP field may hope another third-rail political issue – Israel – will work to their advantage after Obama identified the Jewish state’s pre-1967 borders as the starting point for negotiations with the Palestinians.

The GOP may need a new issue, too, if its grip is loosening on one of the top conservative social topics: gay marriage. A new Gallup poll shows that most Americans believe same-sex matrimony should be recognized by law as having the same rights as hetero unions. Republican voters haven’t dropped their opposition. But support for gay marriage among those all-important independents has jumped 10 percentage points in the past year.

Meanwhile, potential White House wannabe Jon Huntsman is traveling the roads of New Hampshire campaign-style. But the Utah Republican is still dealing with his own main issue: his stint as Obama’s ambassador to China.

On ABC’s Good Morning America, Huntsman sought to put daylight between him and his former boss by cutting a different course on foreign policy: “I would have chosen from the beginning not to intervene in Libya. I would say that it is not core to our national security interests.”

And what about the note he sent Obama after being picked as ambassador — the one that described the president as “a remarkable leader”? Huntsman: “He chose me, a Republican. And I wrote that to him by way of a thank you note … it was my way of expressing what I thought about his selection.”

Reuters Photo Credits: Rebecca Cook (Mitt Romney); Brian Snyder (Tim Pawlenty); Tami Chappell (South Carolina Flags); Luke MacGregor (Monster Balloon); Gil Cohen Magen (Map of Israel); Bob Strong (Gay Wedding)

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Who’s afraid of Mitt and T-Paw, Newt and Huntsman?

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Glad to see serious (though flawed) GOPers running. The more Palin, Trump and Newt just muddy the waters.

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