Things were not going well already for the Romney campaign, locked in a seemingly unbreakable three point deficit in the polls and worse in the electoral college, and the addition of Paul Ryan to the ticket did little or nothing to move those numbers.
The one bright spot the Republicans had was that Ryan had shifted the debate on to the economy, which is where Romney had desperately wanted it to be all the time, rather than on his wife’s horse, his tax returns, his religion and his invention of Obamacare while in Massachusetts.
That was working well - until yesterday. Senate candidate Paul Akin and his “legitimate rape” comments have brought the national conversation back on to social issues and the seeming inability of Republicans to handle women’s issues without sounding like neanderthals. Akin’s now likely withdrawal from the Senate race isn’t gong to help anything as it just keeps the topic hot just days before the convention starts.
If Akin does resign, the Tea Party and the Religious Right lose their one candidate that they handpicked against the wishes of the establishment and managed to get him nominated. They will not be happy.
The Religious Right, while not ever getting their preferred candidate nominated, have usually been placated by getting some of their more extreme positions included in the Republican Platform, like support for a Human Life Amendment, which Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have previously implicitly or explicitly endorsed, but suddenly repudiated yesterday. These things are usually ignored by almost everyone including the media, but will be scrutinized and discussed next week.
Oh, and a hurricane hitting the Tampa area during the Convention is a distinct possibility.
So, the debate is, can the Republicans pull this off? Do they have enough ammo to put the debate back on their preferred track again? Can they make the social issues go away or should they just wholeheartedly embrace them? Will the average five point convention bounce occur this year?
P.S. Please note that I refrained from using the phrase “Perfect Storm” in a difficult decision.
P.S.S. I realize that some will see this as a rant, but I tried to avoid that while setting up the current situation accurately. Ryan didn’t close the gap with Obama/Biden to any expected degree. The conversation has been changed due to Mr. Akin’s comments. The support for Romney from the Tea Party and the Religious Right has been at best lukewarm, and the current issue scratches that scab.
I frankly don’t see much positive momentum going into the Convention for Republicans, so I just described it as I see it.