Matt Lewis

Romney may pay for going AWOL on debt debate

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,” Theodore Roosevelt famously advised. But as is the case with many maxims, there are opposing viewpoints. With the nation deeply embroiled in debt debate, GOP front runner Mitt Romney appears to be following different advice: Keep your head down and your mouth shut.

This is not an absurd strategy. One of the advantages, after all, of running for president as an “unemployed” person (as opposed to running as an incumbent), is the ability to avoid controversial stands. Why get down in the weeds if you can remain above the fray?

The trouble is that Romney’s campaign does not exist in a vacuum. His opponents, many of whom have taken stands on the issue, are working feverishly to attribute his front porch campaign style to a lack of political courage. And their attacks may eventually resonate. Given the tea party zeitgeist, one wonders whether it’s possible to win the GOP nomination by avoiding the most contentious debates of the day.

Ironically, the most risky strategy one could employ in this milieu might be to be overly cautious. And based on the image below (which was emailed to me by a Romney foe) it won’t be easy for Romney to continue ducking such contentious debates…