Democrats target Romney, draw from Bush vs. Kerry

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Top Romney strategist Eric Fehrnstrom said Obama, faced with a stagnant economy, is grasping for ways to win. “Now, they are employing a ‘kill Mitt‘ strategy,” he said. “I suspect they’ll go through many other strategies before they realize this election is a referendum on Obama’s failed leadership on jobs.”

For now, the Obama camp is focusing on portraying Romney as a finger-to-the-wind politician who changes his convictions to meet the political circumstances. They cite his embrace of mandatory health insurance when he was governor of Massachusetts and his criticism of Obama’s health care bill, which relies on the same mandate, or his previous stance in favor of abortion rights against his current opposition to abortion.

“I will give him this, he is as vehement and as strong in his convictions when he takes one position as he is when he takes a diametrically opposite view,” Axelrod said last week. On Wednesday, Axelrod pounced again, declaring on CBS that Romney appeared to have “no core to him.”

No doubt Romney stands as the Republican to beat for his party’s nomination. He has maintained a steady position as other Republicans rise and fall around him. Democrats in Obama’s circle believe that barring an unexpected development, Romney will be the nominee. As a result, their sideline denunciations are designed to begin a story line they intend to build upon in the general election.

Gerry Chervinsky, a Massachusetts pollster who conducted public surveys during the Kennedy-Romney contest and during Kerry’s presidential bid, said attacks on Romney’s shifting stances aren’t likely to damage him because he confronted them in 2007 and 2008 when he first ran for president.

“The Romney business issue, however, I think would score points,” he said. “Teddy (Kennedy) had excellent info and made terrific TV spots and definitely left the impression that Romney’s business record was based on laying people off to make big bucks.”

Once the ads ran, Romney was unable to recover and lost to Kennedy. But the damage was not permanent. Romney ran for governor in 2002 and won.

So far, with the exception of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Republicans running against Romney have not tried to turn Romney’s business experience against him.

During a debate last week, Huntsman described Romney as “somebody who breaks down businesses, destroys jobs as opposed to creating jobs and opportunity, leveraging up, spinning off, enriching shareholders.”

“The whole discussion around this campaign is going to be job creation — how can you win that debate given your background?” Huntsman asked him.

Romney parried the question, noting that Bain Capital had launched Staples and Sports Authority.

“We didn’t take things apart and cut them off and sell them off,” Romney said. “We instead helped start businesses.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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