Matt Lewis

The Rev. Wright ad was a bad idea, but should Romney have repudiated it?

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Matt K. Lewis
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      Matt K. Lewis

      Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor to The Daily Caller, and a contributing editor for The Week. He is a respected commentator on politics and cultural issues, and has been cited by major publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Matt is from Myersville, MD and currently resides in Alexandria, VA. Follow Matt K. Lewis on Twitter <a>@mattklewis</a>.

The blogosphere is buzzing today over a New York Times report that a new group reportedly plans to run ads, “linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.…”

This strikes me as a bad idea. But not because hitting Wright is somehow “taboo.” Instead, it simply seems like a waste of money (reportedly $10 million.) With the debt and deficit ballooning — and the economy still not on solid ground — this hardly seems like an obvious way to help Mitt Romney win the presidency.

What is more, isn’t it reasonable to assume that almost anyone who might potentially be outraged by Wright already knows about the connection?

Having said that, I also wonder about the strategy of having Mitt Romney personally repudiate the idea.

Heretofore, Romney has done a great job of making his past problems with conservatives disappear. As I noted earlier, he was largely able to do this — not by tacking right ideologically — but by demonstrating his toughness.

To many grassroots conservatives these days, being perceived as tough trumps ideology. They want somebody who will take it to Obama. They see all the horrible things the left says about them and Romney, and they want to fight fire with fire. The last thing they want is for the guy at the top to call for unilateral disarmament in order to earn plaudits from the mainstream media.

The danger is that this reminds conservatives of John McCain’s campaign.