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Straight-shooting Republicans keep hitting themselves in the foot

February 13, 2012 |  2:03 pm

Mitt Romney in Maine
If you want keen observations on Campaign 2012, you'll want to read the columns by my colleague Doyle McManus.

For example, in Sunday's column, McManus pointed out that the drawn-out and increasingly negative Republican presidential race will take its toll on Mitt Romney among independent voters.

Lo and behold, on Monday The Times reported on new poll results:

President Obama for the first time has opened a sizable lead over his most likely Republican opponents, thanks to growing support among independent voters, according to a new Pew Research Center poll….

Obama led [Rick] Santorum by 10 points among registered voters nationwide (53%-43%) and led [Mitt] Romney by 8 points (52%-44%). Obama’s lead over Newt Gingrich, who has faded in the GOP race, was 18 points (57%-39%). In previous polls in November and January, Romney and Obama were roughly tied. Obama has moved up because of support from independent voters, 51% of whom now back him against Romney, a gain of 11 points since last month.

Now, had you read McManus, you would have already had that information, gleaned from an insider: 

"The long primary fight is driving independent voters away from Romney," the Obama campaign's senior strategist, David Axelrod, told me last week.

The question, though, is why?

I mean, it's strange, really, how an entire party can be driven to political suicide by a small number of fervent "true believers."

Democrats saw it many years ago with George McGovern. Republicans went through it before with Barry Goldwater.

And here we are again. The Republican Party of today appears increasingly tone deaf when it comes to appealing to independent voters, much less swaying any Democrats.

Take this statement from House Speaker John A. Boeher on Monday, regarding the Republicans’ acceptance of the Democrats' goal of extending the payroll tax cut for middle-class Americans:

"This is not our first choice," said Boehner and his leadership team, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), in a joint statement. "But in the face of the Democrats’ stonewalling and obstructionism, we are prepared to act to protect small businesses and our economy from the consequences of Washington Democrats’ political games."

Sorry, John, you lost me at "not our first choice." 

Now, I'm sure many Americans will appreciate the Republicans' efforts on behalf of small businesses -- whatever that means -- and they'll also appreciate how hard it must be to put up with those stonewalling Democrats, who have the nerve to want to keep a tax break for regular working folks.

And I'm also sure that Sarah Palin and Santorum and the other tea partyers who live in what is apparently a parallel universe will vote Republican in November, even if that means voting for Romney.

But the race is won in the middle, where the independents hang out, and nothing the Republicans are doing right now has much appeal to those folks.

But don't take my word for it.

Just read Doyle McManus.

ALSO:

Carmen 'I am a liar' Trutanich

Obama, Romney and the battle of the bands

Santorum blames his wife for his criticism of those radical feminists 

-- Paul Whitefield

Photo: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns in Portland, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

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