Last night Ann Coulter, in her usual shy and retiring fashion, appeared on Sean Hannity's TV show and let loose in a burst of frustration about Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokeswoman.
The subject was the Romney response to the flat-out lie that Mitt Romney had killed the wife of steelworker Joe Soptic. Here's the segment, with Coulter boiling over at about 5:52 into the tape.
What set Coulter off -- and she is decidedly not alone -- was Saul's response to the ad. Instead of sharply pinning the lie to the wall and nailing the Obama campaign for the responsibility, Ms. Saul blandly replied that had Soptic's wife lived in Massachusetts she would have had insurance -- meaning RomneyCare.
Well aside from reminding conservative voters -- aka "The Base" -- of the major league specific they dislike about Romney -- RomneyCare -- the seriously concerning issue here was Saul's failure to take the fight straight to the Obama campaign and the President himself.
Precisely as Coulter said, the ad is "despicable." Romney was long gone from Bain, not to mention that Soptic's wife had her own health insurance. The ad is a lie. And as Hannity noted, it is now blowing up in Team Obama's face because they have denied any connection to the ad -- now also proven to be a lie, as Hannity also discusses with Coulter. Airing a taped conference call from earlier in the year with Soptic and Onbama campaign aide Stephanie Cutter.
I should say here that somewhere along life's trail I've met Andrea Saul. She's a good person. That, alas, is not the issue. I've never met Romney aide Eric Ferhnstrom either, and surely he's a good guy.
This isn't the point.
These people are now going in front of cameras representing the soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee. For two-plus months, other than Governor Romney himself and his soon-to-be running mate, they will be the face of the Romney campaign.
Again, Coulter from last night:
"It is not worth fighting for this man if this is the kind of spokesman he has who responds to an ad like this by citing health care in Massachusetts…. No, I'm serious about this!.... There's no point in your doing your show, there's no point in us going to a convention and pushing for this man if he's employing morons like this. This ad is the turning point. And she has nearly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat!"
One needs to remember here that Ann Coulter quite famously walked herself waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out on a limb during primary season to enthusiastically support Governor Romney. So these comments are not coming from some still-disgruntled supporter of another candidate.
Presidential campaigns are about as close as one can get to war. Minus the physicality, they are a war -- of ideas. They are stark fights for raw political power. To change the metaphor, they are the Olympics of politics. Either one is trained to get that gold medal -- the White House -- or one will lose to a superior competitor. Period. There is no do-over.
By Labor Day each campaign has to be sharp as a knife, Ideologically, strategically and tactically honed as close to perfection as it is possible to get. There is no room for intellectual or political sloppiness.
Three times now, the Romney campaign has come face to face with a crucial moment and stumbled. The first time was Ferhnstrom's televised remark that really the Romney campaign was just like an "etch-a-sketch" ideologically. Still in the primaries, the remark gave Romney opponents days of material. The second time came with the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision. This time Romney aide Ferhnstrom blithely went on television to say that Romney agreed with President Obama that the individual mandate was a penalty, not a tax. Coming within a hair's breadth of removing one of the best gifts any presidential candidate could get -- a Supreme Court decision that officially turned Obamacare into the biggest tax increase in American history. Romney himself had to take to the airwaves to undo the damage.
Now comes the third time. Ms. Saul and her response to the Soptic ad.
Politics, as they say, ain't bean ball.
Clearly, the reason for Ann Coulter's passion last night is because she, like millions of Americans, understands the stakes. There simply is no margin for error anymore.
Somebody needs to fix the Romney press operation. Pronto.
Ann Coulter is right.
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