Brett Baier does the grilling, and Romney does the spilling. The man whom Jonah Goldberg described as the “candidate that East German scientists would come up with in a lab” short circuits a bit on tough questions. He does finish strong.
Watching Romney’s testiness when Baier asks tough but fair questions, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity between Romney’s reaction and Barney Frank’s reaction during an interview with Savannah Guthrie earlier yesterday.
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Both Romney and Frank seem insulted to be asked about things they have actually said and done while in office. That similarity — which seems to come down to arrogance in the face of fair questions — is as far as the similarity between them goes, but it’s there.
On policy, Baier calls Romney out for hacking at Gingrich on immigration when Romney’s policy is nearly identical. Romney tries a laughably unconvincing dodge — “I can’t tell you what Speaker Gingrich would say” after attacking him for what he said.
Romney’s chief argument is his “electability.” That’s mainly because he cannot run on his record as effectively as he did in 2008, and at that time the GOP voters decided to send up one of the least inspiring Republicans in America against Captain Hopenchange. Hopenchange now has an awful record to defend, so he won’t be able to get away with the same snow job he got away with last time around, but we should be very careful with this whole “electability” argument regardless. Electability is ephemeral, based more on emotions and perceptions than hard facts. It changes with the breeze. Romney could lose his “electability” with a few more prickly policy-based interviews like this one, that expose his policy holes and lame yet hostile defenses of same. Gingrich could lose his “electability” too, one way or another. If either had strong and consistent records to fall back on, their “electability” would be less of a perception and more of a real thing. But they don’t.