Mitt Romney has to attack Newt tonight at the debate. If he doesn’t, and rests on television interviews and what his surrogates have done the past few days, Romney will be Tim Pawlenty, who was not willing to confront Romney on “Obamneycare” in person.
If I were Newt, here’s what I would do tonight when Romney attacks:
1. Romney is a John Sununu Republican.
Put John Sununu, Sr. on trial tonight. Sununu is the guy the Romney campaign enlisted to call you crazy and untrustworthy.
Make sure to tell the millions of viewers watching, who don’t know the history, why Sununu hates you so much: You tried to stop George H.W. Bush from breaking his “no new taxes” pledge. Bush did it anyway, with Sununu his point man as White House Chief of Staff, and it was a breach of trust which lost Bush the next election and severely damaged the Republican Party and conservative movement. You stood on the right side of history, and Sununu hates you for it.
Incredibly, Sununu this morning still is attacking you as having thrown conservatives under the bus on the Bush tax plan, which Byron York notes is ludicrous:
A key Romney ally, Sununu, helped devise what Republicans remember as one of the most disastrous political and policy decisions ever, while Gingrich opposed it. And now Romney is relying on Sununu to make the case against Gingrich.
Sununu also is the person who convinced Bush to nominate David Souter to the Supreme Court based on Sununu’s assurances that Souter was conservative. Souter wasn’t, and as Mark Levin says, Sununu never should be forgiven for the Souter appointment. Tell everyone that John Sununu will have Mitt Romney’s ear on judicial appointments just like he had Bush’s ear.
Mitt Romney is a John Sununu Republican, let everyone know it.
2. Romney was both for and against the Ryan Plan.
Romney is attacking you over your statement about the Ryan plan, taking out of context the statement about “right wing social engineering.” Insist on being able to explain the full context of your statement, it’s a winner which people will appreciate.
And then ask the millions of audience members who made this statement soon after Ryan proposed his plan:
The Ryan “plan is not the plan I’ll put forward, I have my own plan”
It was, of course, Mitt Romney, who ran away from the Ryan plan before he decided it was good for his campaign to support it. But it gets worse. Romney tried to play both sides of the issue, in that same interview saying he would sign the Ryan Plan and he would not sign the Ryan plan but propose his own.
You could say that Romney was against the Ryan Plan before he was for it. Or is he actually for it? Will Romney sign the Ryan Plan as is, that’s a question we should have answered tonight.
3. Romney’s secret immigration plan is Bush/Graham amnesty.
Romney has been attacking you for the comments you made at an earlier debate regarding deportation, in which you said that there should be no pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens (except for people who serve in the military, a wildly popular position), but that some humanitarian exceptions to deportation might be in order. Your position is shared by most Republicans and non-Republicans, and it is not amnesty because it provides no pathway to citizenship
Romney claims to insist on a full deportation policy with no exceptions, but there is every reason not to believe him based on his secret immigration plan:
Mitt Romney sat down for a 40-minute interview with the editorial board of The Washington Examiner this morning before appearing at the Republican Jewish Coalition. It was a wide ranging discussion and we will be posting a longer story and a full transcript later today. Romney’s answer on illegal immigration indicated he had a broad plan – one that we believe may rile some in the Republican base.
What is the plan? Romney still won’t say, but here is what set off alarm bells: Romney is consulting with Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham for guidance on immigration, two people who long have pushed the type of pathway to citizenship after paying a fine plan proposed by George W. Bush (emphasis in Examiner article):
“Virtually every Republican I know that’s spoken about illegal immigration says the same thing. I listened to Lindsey Graham the other day and he said, ‘secure the border, stop the flow of illegal aliens into the country, and then we can address the issue of what to do with the people who are here illegally today.’
“I do have my own thoughts on that. I actually have a plan in mind, I haven’t unveiled it. There are other people I’d like to sit down with and review it with me.
“I went down to Florida and met with Jeb Bush six, seven months ago, laid out what I thought would be a complete plan to deal with permanent immigration policies with regards to our legal system to simplify it. Number two, how to deal with those who are here illegally today. And number three, how to secure the border.
As the Examiner put it:
Lindsey Graham. Jeb Bush. If you are an “attrition-through-enforcement” conservative on illegal immigration, then this answer is probably setting off alarms.
We don’t know what Romney’s secret immigration plan is. Maybe there’s a reason for that.
So Newt, stay positive, but point out what most people don’t know. You will have an audience of millions, maybe even tens of millions. Far more than ever will see Romney’s attack ads or read Sununu’s cheap shots at you. Just do it.